Sunday 24 September 2017

Radio: How to turn the airwaves blue and Grey

New direction: Nora Owen, ex-minister for justice, was moonlighting as a 'sex editor'
New direction: Nora Owen, ex-minister for justice, was moonlighting as a 'sex editor'

Eilis O'Hanlon

An enthusiastic Shane Coleman got straight to the point on Newstalk's Sunday Show: "Describe it to someone who hasn't seen it."

Thankfully, he was talking about Blackadder, this week's entry in the programme's 'Cultural Toolbox' slot - rather than the ubiquitous Fifty Shades Of Grey, which concerns toolboxes of an altogether different kind. Phew.

Nora Owen, former Justice Minister, thinks future marketing students will study the campaign to sell this movie as a textbook example of how it should be done. But the truth is that it barely needed any peddling at all, as most shows were only too willing to jump aboard the bandwagon.

Owen herself was enlisted as Newstalk's 'sex editor', as Breakfast sent her along to watch it on their behalf. She threw herself into the task with aplomb, concluding that it was a "romcom with a little bit of juiciness thrown in", though she was a little baffled by some of the details.

"The only use I've ever had for cable ties," she observed at one point, "is for erecting election posters."

Now there's a sentence with the potential to go wrong, if ever there was one.

Ivan Yates finding excitement in the most innocent of words ("wood", for example), but as the film's Irish cinematographer noted on The Picture Show: "Every word you use with Fifty Shades seems to be a double entendre."

Whatever about the content, the film's "visual integrity" has been much admired, which is, as Molloy put it diplomatically, what critics tend to say "when a movie isn't up to par". There was another example of that on Today FM's own Sunday Show: "The soundtrack was amazing".

That the story is a "fantasy about luxury" rather than sex, and that the heroine's physical desire for the hero quickly turns to "economic attraction", was rightly noted.

Hot Press critic Roe McDermott added her own spin on 2FM's Louise McSharry Show, as she picked up on the fact that the book contains plenty of interior monologue from the female lead, explaining her thought process - whereas the film, in omitting that, merely ends up looking like a sequence of scenes of a creepy man doing weird things to a woman who is repeatedly saying "no". Which is hardly encouraging.

Even Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4 got in on the act by quizzing a "professional dominatrix" on the appeal of spanking. She recalled how, in ancient Rome, the uncle of a bride would spank her before the wedding, in order to "increase fertility". Any excuse.

The only show which didn't fall for the hype seemed to be Chris And Ciara on 2FM, whose regular review slot opted not to mention the film at all. If only the, ahem, "comedy" sketches on the same station's increasingly woeful Breakfast Republic had done the same.

Instead, there was a laboured analogy between Fifty Shades and Harry Potter (wands, geddit?), and a belief that the word "book" can be made to sound dirty if sniggered over often enough.

This is where your licence fee goes, people. Listen and despair.

Sunday Independent

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