David Lister: Sport and the arts can live together happily – yes, even during the Olympics

The Week in Arts


The British Film Industry is in a lather.

It is worried that next year could be one long disaster movie, with film fans deserting the cinema for the Olympics, the Euro 2012 football championship and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The Oscar-winning producer Lord Puttnam has called for a financial injection, a series of special events and media promotions to ensure that people don't desert the cinema. The chief executive of the Film Distributors' Association, Mark Batey, seems to agree, adding: "Next year will be very challenging."

I generally support everything David Puttnam says, his being one of the sanest and most inspiring voices in the arts. But on this occasion I fear that he and other film industry bigwigs underestimate the ability that we film and sport fans have to multitask.

It's hard. It's tough. It demands a summoning up of the spirit and a girding of the loins worthy of David Puttnam's own Chariots of Fire, but I think that we film and sport fans can muster up enough energy to watch the Olympics, watch Euro 2012, and still get to the cinema. Those who want to should even have the stamina to attend a Diamond Jubilee street party as well.

What is it about the Olympics that inspires such panic and such visions of chaos? Not only is London going to grind to a halt, apparently, not only does the whole of the arts world feel obliged to mount expensive extravaganzas in the hope that people's eyes will be on art not sport, but now joining the spectre of 24-hour traffic jams and countrywide Shakespeare recitals is the spectre of empty cinemas and a bankrupt film industry.

What it really raises is a worse spectre, one which was once prevalent but I hoped had been long buried – the conflict between sport and the arts. It used to be held as a truism that you were on one side or the other. You liked sport or you liked the arts; you were good at sport at school, or you preferred the arts. It's absurd. There are plenty of us who love both sport and art.

And we can juggle things sufficiently to handle watching both Usain Bolt and Johnny Depp in one week, actually in one day. There are also, of course, plenty of people who don't like sport. So quite why the Olympics or football should stop them from going to see films is a mystery.

The key to people going to cinemas, be it during the Olympics, a football tournament, the Diamond Jubilee, or any time at all, is to have good movies on. If we have a weekend like this weekend on next August, with The Ides of March, The Help, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Tintin et al, it will take more than a rash of gold medals or a ticket to the beach volleyball to keep people away from the multiplex. Well, possibly not the latter. But either way, the Olympics shouldn't be a scapegoat for the art not being good enough.

It's important to make your walkout count

Making an exit is as big a statement as making an entrance. When you walk out of a play, it has to mean something. You must choose your production wisely, make a protest that is going to resonate; either walk out through genuine shock (hard these days), or boredom (easier), or from deeply held political beliefs.

So it's hard to get one's head round the walkouts that have been taking place in Stratford-upon-Avon at the Royal Shakespeare Company's revival of Marat/Sade. Yes, there is nudity, some sexual explicitness and grotesque behaviour. But none of it is exactly new. This play had shock value when it was premiered by the RSC in ... 1964, and the nudity belonged to one Glenda Jackson. The play is hardly an unknown quantity now. Were the walkers exiting for nostalgia's sake? Or perhaps when a play is revived, some of the audience think they should revive the walkout, too.

Let's start a Pete Campbell fan club

There was an intriguing interview published this week with the actor Vincent Kartheiser, better known as Pete Campbell in Mad Men. Pete Campbell is anxious, feels overlooked, and is a bit jealous of Don Draper. Vincent Kartheiser came across in his interview as someone who is anxious, feels overlooked and is a bit jealous of Don Draper. Hats off to the casting director. This was clearly inspired casting.

I was puzzled, though, to read that both Kartheiser and his interviewer felt that viewers had a visceral dislike for the Campbell character. Kartheiser describes Campbell as "a douche bag". However, he believes Don Draper to be just as bad and is flummoxed as to why that character gets more admiration than Campbell.

Me, I've always warmed to Campbell's insecurities and general chippiness mixed with an eagerness to please. I warm to him even more now I discover that he is an extension of the actor playing him. I must get an "I like Pete Campbell" badge.



React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower