Rupert Murdoch expressed the hope yesterday that his all new, all shiny, all ethical Sun on Sunday would print two million copies. Two million? Why would anyone in the public eye need a newspaper interview any more in order to discharge their publicity duties?
When it comes to being in a film, or having a book or TV show out one is contractually obliged to do a certain amount of publicity. I will happily consent to radio or TV interviews. People can see me and decide I am an entirely intolerable piece of offal they never want to have anything to do with again on the basis of watching and hearing me. That’s absolutely fine. But at least it won’t be because of a misquote, a vicious aside or some skewed distortion from the bitter mind of a print “profile writer”, filtered through envy, dislike and that special brand of dyspeptic, growling misanthropy and “I see through you” cynicism in which British journalists specialise. And yes, I do reserve the right, from time to time, to announce that I’m doing a public signing in a shop, a show at the Albert Hall or that I have a film out. It would greatly annoy the most loyal of my followers if they heard from anyone else first, which incredible in their detective work as they are, they so often do. They seemed to know I was playing Malvolio in London’s Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre this coming summer before I did.
What price freedom from gossip?
Maybe celebrity interviews and trashy gossip are the price we pay for funding foreign desks and “proper journalism”. That has always been the excuse. Video never did kill the radio star, and I don’t suppose Twitter will kill the columnist and professional trafficker in opinion and comment and gossip, but what of Maria Colvin and brave reporters like her, or genuine investigative journalists who spend years chasing down corruption and wicknedness in the world? I don’t have an answer to that.
Is the internet getting all a bit … oh I don’t know, shopping mall-like and over-organised?
On a wholly different note, is it just me, or are the big internet players all getting rather nasty and styleless at the moment? Google is irritating the crap out of everyone with its new rules and protocols. It has also, quite literally, been caught with its hand in the cookie-jar. Spotify has lost all the world’s affection and respect by locking itself into Facebook. Facebook continues to startle everyone with new depths of asinine redesign and security madnesses. And Twitter, Twitter has taken Loren Brichter’s (@lorenb) quite brilliant original Tweetie client, turned it into the “official” Twitter app for desktop and mobile devices of all stripes and is slowly stripping it of all useful functionality and the almost lickable glide, ease and sweetness of use that first brought it to everyone’s attention. Maybe Dick Costolo (@dickc) and Biz Stone (@Biz) of Twitter and other players in these huge entities all feel that it is payday – time to cash in. Maybe they know something we don’t about the future of banking and need liquidity now.
More hopefully, fresh bands of guerilla app developers and social network designers are already working on The Next Big Thing in the background and in a few year’s time having an FB or Twitter identity might well be as embarrassing as having a MySpace or AOL account is now. I do hope so.
Oh dear me, I do go on don’t I? Embarrassing or not, I’m having a fine time here in New Zealand. The weather is … fascinating. The work is long and hard and hugely satisfying: if I tell you any more I will be imprisoned for improper disclosure, the contractual equivalent of flashing in public. I apologise for not being able to Skype or DM friends at sensible times of the day, but New Zealand is, after all, 13 time zones away from the meridian line.
Days may go by in the next week in which I will barely tweet at all. Or there again, my next tweet may embroil me up to my neck in the soup once more. That’s the beauty. One never knows.