"I hate it, I loathe it, I despise it, I feel contempt for it," said Mark Kermode on 5 Live's Kermode and Mayo's Film Review. "Everything about it rattles every one of my cages.... This is absolutely the most loathsome consumerist male dream. I detest the mindset that this film occupies."
It's fair to say that Kermode wasn't especially taken with Entourage, the movie version of the hit TV series in which a group of young guys travel to LA and live the celebrity dream.
Clive James once wrote that a bad review is when "the spleen gets a voice". Certainly, there is something cruelly satisfying about a negative review – don't tell me you haven't delighted in the critical eviscerations of EL James's Grey – though not, of course, if it's your work being put through the shredder.
On radio and television, critics are generally more polite, partly because they want to be liked but also because poetic vitriol is more difficult to concoct off the cuff. Unless, of course, you are Kermode.
This seasoned film critic is hardly known for mincing his words though his eight-minute Entourage rant – which went viral as soon as the show had finished –wasn't your regular hatchet job. Putting the boot in can be fun but, in this case, it was clear that he took no satisfaction in taking it apart. He was neither snarky or self-satisfied. He was just bloody furious.
"It's just this pornographic, consumerist, hate-filled piece of propaganda which says this is what you should aspire to," he continued. "This level of utter vacuity, this foul, soul-sucking, horrible vacuum of vile emptiness is what you should aspire to. And you wait for the bubble to burst, and it doesn't... Compared to this Sex and the City 2 is a call to arms for the dispossessed masses of the world."
Few radio arts shows reach such levels of fury and passion as Kermode and Mayo's. And yet such fervour – the sense that a work of art's success is vital to the nation's well-being, and its failure is an affront to all that is good and decent – is precisely what is needed. At a time when arts and culture programmes on mainstream television are gasping for breath, radio's contribution is more vital than ever.
It's a shame then, that much of it is so very polite. A case in point is The Radio 2 Arts Show with Claudia Winkleman. Winkleman is a lively, likeable host but the tone, particularly when it comes to interviews, is too reverent (there is earnest talk of "the process" and "the journey") without digging deep. Worse still is that it is peppered with music breaks made up of the usual MOR playlist, which rather undermines the notion that we are listening to a discerning arts programme.
Thank God for Front Row, the daddy of all radio arts shows thanks to the intelligence of its presenters along with the clear grafting of researchers behind the scenes.
Alongside terrifically in-depth features on the artist Barbara Hepworth and the writer Nell Zink, the latest episode found presenter Samira Ahmed and critic Tom Robey mulling Alex Gibney's documentary on Scientology, Going Clear. The film got a resounding thumbs-up, on the basis that it's "the film that Scientologists don't want you to see, which is exactly as it should be". I'm sold already.
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