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

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

Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager - Software & Services

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Exhibition Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...

Recruitment Genius: QA Technician

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of re...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, an experienced and hig...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Children shouldn’t even know the word 'diet' — obesity and lack of body confidence are symptoms of the same cause

Natasha Devon
Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Deadmau5, Kanye West and Jay-Z at the Tidal launch event in New York  

Tidal: An overpriced music streaming service that only benefits the super-rich members of a messianic-like cult? Where do I sign up??

Michael Segalov
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat