6 March 2010

Someone else has noticed the obsession with graphics on BBC news programmes

Today's 'World Book Day' feature in The Times Review section invited sundry celebrities and authors to recommend 'One to give' to someone else.

Any disappointment I might have had that no one mentioned any of my books quickly turned into delight when I saw that I may have a supporter in my campaign against the BBC's obsession with graphics and PowerPoint style presentations in their news programmes.

At least, that's what novelist Philip Pullman seems to be referring to in the highlighted section of his contribution below. And, as I agree with pretty much everything else in his Saturday morning rant, I thought it worth reproducing in full:

This is a book that doesn’t yet exist. It would describe in great detail the profound irritation, often amounting to rage, generated by films made with shaky hand-held cameras, by the over-use of “dramatic” close-ups, by background music under speech, by incessant background music generally, by TV news programmes that think it will be clever to illustrate every image in a news report (“The wheels have come off the Chancellor’s Budget plans” — so we have to see some wheels. Newsnight is the worst offender here), by the jump-cuts and smash-cuts in action films — often several per second — that substitute rapid movement of the point of view for meaningful action, by “unusual” camera angles that show what the scene would look like to a fly on the ceiling or a mouse on the floor to no narrative purpose whatsoever. I’d give this book to every producer or director whose work has annoyed the hell out of me.

And, while I’m at it, I’d give a similar book to every novelist who resorts unnecessarily to the present tense*. It’s a simpering, wincing, arch, fey, kittenish sort of affectation that ought to be stamped on firmly
(my emphasis & asterisk).

(* To which I would add the rise of history in the present tense, which seems to have become the norm in programmes like Melvin Bragg's In Our Time on BBC Radio 4, not to mention the 'open-mouthed school of acting').


Frugal Dougal said...

Fast-changing graphics stimulate the amygdala, which not only promotes an emotional response but shuts down the executive centres in the frontal lobes. It's a form of brainwashing.

pintosal said...

Similar comments apply to 'serious' programmes like Horizon.
Does anyone yearn for a return to the simple informative style exemplified by Bronowski's The Ascent of Man?
I watch less and less TV and end up more and more on Radio 4.