David Thomas: The girls will pose while the boys will fight

Share

As I write these words, I do not know which particular semi-naked starlet, teetering up to the Baftas, will have caught the picture editors' eyes for this morning's editions. Nor can I possibly predict the specific pop-star spat, outrageous display of public drunkenness, or daft political gesture that will cause the headline-grabbing ructions at the Brit Awards tonight. But girls will pose, boys will fight, and the tabloid beast will certainly be fed.

As I write these words, I do not know which particular semi-naked starlet, teetering up to the Baftas, will have caught the picture editors' eyes for this morning's editions. Nor can I possibly predict the specific pop-star spat, outrageous display of public drunkenness, or daft political gesture that will cause the headline-grabbing ructions at the Brit Awards tonight. But girls will pose, boys will fight, and the tabloid beast will certainly be fed.

It's all good grist to the celebrity mill. But as the awards season gets into full swing, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the ever-expanding razzmatazz of British entertainment-industry back-slapping, is in inverse proportion to the influence of the industry on the world stage. The prizes grow ever more glittering. But the business is fading away.

The woes of the British record industry have been well publicised. From the moment the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on 9 February 1964, to the mid-Eighties commercial heyday of Duran Duran, Dire Straits, and U2 (Irish, I know, but made famous by Chiswick's very own Island Records), British music dominated the US charts. Today, it is virtually non-existent on the other side of the Atlantic. As far as Americans are concerned, our most successful artist under 40 is probably Charlotte Church.

The increasing irrelevance of British music is no accident. Not only have our creative obsessions - from Britpop to boy bands - become parochial, but the home-based companies that once spawned and supported British artists have either disappeared or been swallowed up within multinational corporations.

The disappearance of an independent UK record industry means that our music is effectively controlled from New York and LA. And US corporations seem to have decided to work on the same principles as their movie-biz colleagues. They will allow domestic markets to have their own local products. But they will reserve full-scale international exposure (dependent on their investment) for artists and products from the USA.

The lack of marketing clout is one reason why so many of our Lottery-funded films have performed atrociously at the box office or been left unseen on distributors' shelves (a total unwillingness to impose the creative disciplines that make Hollywood product saleable to a mass audience is another). With a very few exceptions the British film industry still consist of people who can't get a Green Card. If they were really any good, they'd be making it in Hollywood.

And that is a disgrace. The entertainment industry is going to be one of the two or three biggest businesses of the coming century. And the language in which it will do business is English. It's bad enough that there is no corporation here to match Time-Warner, Fox/News Corp and Sony. But what's really pathetic is that we don't even have as much control of the market as German companies such as Bertelsmann, or France's Vivendi, the recent purchasers of the Universal group.

The reasons, as in so many businesses, can be found in a combination of managerial incompetence and government interference. The only global brand we possess, BBC, is hamstrung by its non-commercial status. If allowed proper access to capital markets as a PLC, it would be able to fund proper global programming, or full-scale movie production. And please, let's not be sentimental. The Beeb is like the NHS: if the rest of the world really admires it so much, why don't they have one too?

The Brits and the Baftas are symptomatic of an industry that congratulates itself because no one else has any interest in doing so. The headlines are fine. But bottom-lines would be finer.

dwpthomas@aol.com

React Now

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

Retail Business Architect

Flexible for the right candidate: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: I have a fa...

Calypso Developer

£500 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Calypso Developer Calypso, J2SE, XML, ...

IT Developer/Analyst

£35000 - £36000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A market leading financia...

Pricing Manager, Finance, Edinburgh, £250-350p/d

£250 - £350 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is cur...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Clockwise from top: Zafran Ramzan, Razwan Razaq (main picture), Adil Hussain, Umar Razaq and Mohsin Khan were sentenced for grooming teenage girls for sex in 2010.  

Nothing can make up for the trauma of Rotherham's abused young girls, but many more heads must roll

Jane Merrick
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush  

Suddenly everyone goes beserk about Kate Bush, and I’m the one left out...

Archie Bland
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis