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TheChainedWolf


Member

Posted Fri Oct 24th, 2008 10:18am Post subject: Criticism of the series
I was listening to a podcast of The Media Show on BBC Radio 4. On this weeks edition, there was a woman called Natalie Haynes, a writer and comedian, who attacked not just Stephen Fry in America, but also The American Future: A History by Simon Schama and Jon Snow's American Journeys.

She attacked them for all being the same, saying that Fry's show had mainly be broadcast because of:

a) The American election

b) The fact that while Stephen has just a very small link to the country, his name is bound to boost the sales of any DVD/Book with his name connected to it.

Haynes went on to state the fact that Stephen Fry in America and The American Future: A History by Simon Schama both presented segements from Arlington on Veteran's Day, meaning that unless Schama's programme was recorded year's in advance, he and Fry must have met.

She also attacked the fact that the thing that seems to take the most importance is who is presenting the show (Fry, Schama and Snow), and that despite the fact that this election could see the first black President, there are no documentaries about America presented by black people, or women for that matter.

You can listen to her views on The Media Show website and the podcast, which can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/mediashow/ with her segement starts at around 25:38.

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gadgetgirl


Member

Posted Fri Oct 24th, 2008 10:44am Post subject: Criticism of the series
I think these refer to that kind of sniping:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk2Xb95ACUQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO_jmUDaHSA (about 1.09 in)

"It's just a terrible waste of a life"

That would be me.

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stephenfryagain


Member

Posted Fri Oct 24th, 2008 4:00pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
First, Its a television show, not a documentary. Fry, nor Snow claimed to have gone to Arlington alone, or to be the only crew filming there that day (Arlington is a big and busy cemetery).

Second, they all offered a unique perspective *because* the show focused on the respective hosts.

Third, none of them did any real justice to the nation. But, then how could they restricted as they were by broadcasting schedules.

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piggywhale


Member

Posted Fri Oct 24th, 2008 6:30pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
Thanks for sharing, Chained Wolf. It's particularly interesting for me to hear that there's also a tension/ racial awareness(if, that's the right word) between White and Black in UK too (you have to pardon my ignorance, I do not know much about the UK as I'd have liked ). It really struck me to hear a comment that there should be a Black person presenting a documentary on America. Still cannot follow a logic. Why, exactly? Would it give a better light on the subject of American people in general?? Would an English black person see America differently from an English white person?

I believe that each individual, when s/he comes to visit America, will have different opinions & insight into the people and the culture here. I rather think Stephen Fry is a fantastic choice of presenter for the show. He sees America & Americans in a more positive light than many other I have encountered. It gives a warm glow feeling when I see the show, which I really hope British people will feel the same way too.

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gadgetgirl


Member

Posted Fri Oct 24th, 2008 6:50pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
I see from wikipedia (if we believe that) that she was in Footlights too. A touch of jealousy? Honestly, I can't take this sort of criticism seriously. Whether Fry or Schama met is not relevant - their perspectives are very different I'm sure and, I expect despite not having seen Schama, both interesting. The colour or sex of the presenter being important is one of the most irritating types of "positive discrimination" cheap comments that these critics seem to come up with.

I have seen some criticisms on here which might be legitimate - I would love to see more of each state for example, but the race/sex of the presenter and not their viewpoint or personality is irrelevant to me. Now if they got someone on who was an expert in race relations specifically looking at racial tension in the election, that might be interesting (as well as what we already have).

PS this is not meant to be as harsh as it seems on re-reading. Not sure how to reword it though. Sorry, tired.

That would be me.

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IdeaCollector


Member

Posted Fri Oct 24th, 2008 7:48pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
I just saw this on an art site and it made me laugh and think of this topic.

Critics are like eunuchs in a harem: They know how it's done, they see it done every day, but they can't do it themselves.

HA!

I used to be EternalStudent on these forums until the switch over. So don't get excited..I'm not someone new and exciting. I'm just me :P

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TheChainedWolf


Member

Posted Fri Oct 24th, 2008 8:10pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
I just saw this on an art site and it made me laugh and think of this topic.

Critics are like eunuchs in a harem: They know how it's done, they see it done every day, but they can't do it themselves.

HA!

Yes, that did make me laugh. Partly because I'm a bit of a critic myself sadly, and that statement is true in some cases.

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gjhsu


Moderator

Posted Fri Oct 24th, 2008 8:37pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
I just saw this on an art site and it made me laugh and think of this topic.

Critics are like eunuchs in a harem: They know how it's done, they see it done every day, but they can't do it themselves.

HA!

Brilliant.

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gadgetgirl


Member

Posted Fri Oct 24th, 2008 11:39pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
I just saw this on an art site and it made me laugh and think of this topic.

Critics are like eunuchs in a harem: They know how it's done, they see it done every day, but they can't do it themselves.

HA! X-D X-D X-D

That would be me.

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Mares


Member

Posted Sat Oct 25th, 2008 3:26am Post subject: Criticism of the series
As someone who has indigenous ancestry, I'd appreciate an opportunity to ask this woman, why she hasn't thought about a documentary presented by an indigenous American, traveling to the UK, and presenting their opinion of the English settlers (well, they were, and for more than one hundred years prior to the country gaining independence, some Dutch among them), and holding current British citizens (and again, Dutch as well) accountable for those terrible wrongs? How about adding to that, the blame due to the French (in Canada), who created the practice known as "scalping", and who taught it to the native peoples as a means to prove that they'd killed an those who lived in what later became known as the American territories? That ended up being something that was used to justify the claim that the indigenous were blood thirsty.

Or how about a Black British citizen hosting a documentary critical of the African leaders who sold their fellow Africans into slavery to Arabs, Portuguese and the Spanish who were the ones who invented the trans-Atlantic slave trade? Or even why Spain has refused, to this day, to apologize for their creation of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and why not agree to make restitution to the descendents of those slaves, and to the indigenous in what is now called Latin America, especially after strip mining all the gold they did, to line the pockets of the Spanish crown and it's aristocracy, and the genocide they committed that wiped nearly all of them off the face of the earth? To the indigenous in the American southeast and west, for their attempts to commit a similar genocide against them?

How about a woman, hosting a documentary, critical of women in power, who have proven that they can be (and have) been as willingly corrupt, and in no way better than male leader in providing true equality and fairness to the population?

Until she makes that and other similar cases, addressing those, and the other atrocities and hypocrisies that originated in the "Old World", it's my not so humble opinion that her remarks are nothing more than sour grapes.

BTW, not down on the English, I'm 1/4 English, from my maternal grandmother, and my maternal grandfather, 100% Abenaki, would have grown up in an orphanage, where it not for his adoptive parents, who were 100% of English ancestry, as white as white could be, and the most wonderful people you could hope for. Their name was Carpenter, who adopted him when he was four years old, and loved and raised him, just like their 11 blood children on their farm.

One of the early English setters in what became the US, was a man named Roger Williams. He, and others set out from Massachuetts, because they felt the puritans were too harsh and rather hypocritical, and settled in what became Rhode Island (the smallest state in the nation, but the one with the longest name, the State of Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations). Williams gained the trust of the Wampanoag, and Narragansett peoples, he lived with them, learned their language, eventually writing the first book completely in the Narragansett language, and was an advocate for them. There were many good and decent English pilgrims and settlers, and not all of them, nor all Americans deserve the bad rap for the worst things that happened here.

I'm sorry for sounding earlier as though I was ranting against all the English, but I do get ticked off when anti's, like the woman who was criticizing Fry in America, because it didn't serve her own ends.

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Ctrl+Alt+Del


Member

Posted Sat Oct 25th, 2008 7:57pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
I see from wikipedia (if we believe that) that she was in Footlights too. A touch of jealousy?

I think you're taking a rather massive leap of assumption on this one. It's a minor biographical detail that has far more chance of being irrelevant than being the sole or primary motivating force behind her criticism. Loads of people have strode the Footlight boards over the years, some of whom went on to great success and some (probably quite a bit more) who didn't. I sincerely doubt any of them are sitting at home positively seething about the careers of members 17 years their senior.

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Ctrl+Alt+Del


Member

Posted Sat Oct 25th, 2008 8:04pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
Second, they all offered a unique perspective *because* the show focused on the respective hosts.

Here, here. The age of the objective documentary is dead and gone (or at the very least in the last twitching stages of death throes) and has been replaced by the personal reflectivity documentary. The documentary under discussion is not 'about America', it is about how Fry himself sees America and how the paper-thin slice of America he interacts with sees and responds to him (and even this takes a sturdy second to the first point). It's the same as the Bill Bryson books that seek not to describe a place (Australia, the Appalachian trail, England, Midwest America etc etc) but to instead describe HIS experience in them, often in the context of an ex-pat American.

Haynes would have perhaps come off as more reasonable had she taken the position that various celebrities are so full of themselves that they imagine the public actually cares about their opinions and experiences that they make books and documentaries....but of course the public DOES care, has cared, and will care. Everyone knows this of course which, I suspect, would make for quite a short interview with Ms. Haynes.

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CarolineK


Member

Posted Sun Oct 26th, 2008 6:32pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
Oh, God, could she possibly be more facile in her thinking! After all, there needs no ghost come from the grave to tell us that interest in the US rises during an election year, nor, indeed, that a TV series entitled "Stephen Fry in America" would focus a bit more on the Stephen Fry than the America. The series is not called "America: And, Look, Isn't That Stephen Fry in the Corner? Oh, Well, Never Mind Him, We're Here on More Important, and Less Celebrity-Centered Business. Pshaw!"

It's really quite silly. Mistaking the purpose of the production and then taxing it for not fulfilling the purpose she's made up. And am I the only one here thinking a short, semi-serious series on America from the point of view of a black Englishman (who shall also be thin and tall and quite charismatic and have a very triangular sort of face and sticky-outy ears, I presume) is almost too condescending for words, right now? Makes one shudder. Oh, the cudgelling unsubtletly of it all!

Having said that, wouldn't it be terribly exciting if the BBC were to mount an effort to produce a major documentary project on America? One of those 30-piece whoppers. My geek glands are drooling

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gadgetgirl


Member

Posted Sun Oct 26th, 2008 7:22pm Post subject: Criticism of the series
I see from wikipedia (if we believe that) that she was in Footlights too. A touch of jealousy?

I think you're taking a rather massive leap of assumption on this one. It's a minor biographical detail that has far more chance of being irrelevant than being the sole or primary motivating force behind her criticism. Loads of people have strode the Footlight boards over the years, some of whom went on to great success and some (probably quite a bit more) who didn't. I sincerely doubt any of them are sitting at home positively seething about the careers of members 17 years their senior. It was meant as a flippant comment, I wasn't being particularly serious. It was a catty cheap shot and I'm sorry. I did note that my post came across harsher than perhaps I meant. And now I feel guilty, for being mean to someone who was being mean. Aarrrgh!

That would be me.

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McGrew


Member

Posted Tue Oct 28th, 2008 1:07am Post subject: Criticism of the series
Has some pretty interesting (negative) points at

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/oct/07/stephenfry.usa


in his 'digested read'. Notably, that the 'tour' is a tour that none of us could possibly have made (meeting people we could not meet without the BBC greasing the way -- that is, that it is something of a rich-man's tour)
and that the set-pieces are rather painfully obvious set-pieces (the
fellow who just happened to want to tramp through the woods
to find a stone with "WV" on it was one that bugged me. There are
actually signs that say "Mason-Dixon line" on roads, you know, and
let's not get into that when the Mason-Dixon line drawn, West Virginia
didn't exist.) I don't agree with much of the critique (but I don't
agree that critics should all be hung upside down and drained of all
bile :-).

But anyway, another view.

Charles

PS - kind of surprising that ol' QI himself didn't mention that Arlington
national cemetery, indeed in Virginia, is on land seized from the
Lee family (as in Robert E. Lee.) Or is that in the book but not in
the show?

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