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Thread: Succession

  1. #1
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    Yesterday we finished watching the second series of this programme. For those who don't know it's about the power struggle to take over a media empire run by tyrannical philistine Logan Roy who appears close to death. Of course he is based on Rupert Murdoch (although his Australian origins are swapped for a Dundee childhood) and (although I don't know that much about the Murdoch family) his poisonous brood and wives presumably owe something to those of Murdoch himself. Certainly the mainish character Kendall has this smooth business school privilege mixed with just the right amount of spoiled weakness to suggest what I remember of James Murdoch. Some scenes recall real life events - Logan Roy apologising for his company's actions to congress mirrors Rupe's appearance in the UK parliament after the phone hacking scandal for instance - and others - the destruction of incriminating evidence a la Conrad Black - are maybe borrowings from the crimes of other media tycoons. Another character is clearly Bernie Sanders and so on. It's written/created by Jesse Armstrong who was behind Peep Show I think and there are a number of other Brits involved which gives the show a slightly different flavour from, say, Mad Men or other obvious comparisons, even though ninety percent of it is based in New York. Also, possibly because of his comedy background, there is a lot of humour in the show - in fact, it's very funny, although sometimes I wonder afterwards if they maybe went for something funny for the immediate hit possibly at the expense of the credibility of the show as a whole - in fact the weaknesses are the way that certain things strain credulity and, arguably the fact that some story lines around the periphery are not explored as much as one would like, but still, if you are interested in back stabbing, cynicism and a blatant attack on Rupert Murdoch and his insidious, evil and sustained attack on public discourse over the last thousand or so years then you should give it a go I reckon.

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    I really need to watch this. Unfortunately it's now one of those situations where so many people have told me to watch it that I've got my back up about it. (The same way a lot of people probably felt about The Wire and Game of Gnomes.)

    Jesse Armstrong was also one of the co-writers of The Thick of It, which is — along with Peep Show — my favourite British comedy show of recent(wish) years. Oh and also co-wrote Four Lions. The clever bastard.

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    As usual, Adam Curtis has lots to say.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurt...d-648a7ea15290
    Some good early footage and speculation about why murdoch is like that

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    Quote Originally Posted by sufi View Post
    As usual, Adam Curtis has lots to say.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurt...d-648a7ea15290
    Some good early footage and speculation about why murdoch is like that
    RUPERT MURDOCH - A PORTRAIT OF SATAN

    Fantastic title.

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    So I guess you could argue The Thick of It is the most direct precursor of this (though actually I've never seen that much of it).
    I would say that I like the way it attacks the Murdoch empire, but not by satire (or not only), it gets round that thing of satire reinforcing those it is supposed to attack by having people outside the clique just literally say the kinds of thing that we all know to be true about Fox and The Sun and so on.

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    Nice one Sufi

    But Lady Carr began to worry. She took Rupert Murdoch out to lunch in Mayfair. She reported that he had little small talk, no sense of humour and that he had lit up a cigar before the first course.
    We laugh at the upper classes for thinking that this kind of thing (the cigar) is important but maybe it can be a good guide to character after all.

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    The Thick of It doesn't often directly attack the media — more indirectly, through the way that politicians play ball with or manipulate it. I suppose there's an implied critique of the media having 'forced' politicians to act in this sleazy, shallow and superficial way. Alistair Campbell (surprise surprise) hated it because he said it didn't show politicians as being principled at heart, having convictions that might sometimes come into conflict with the party line, etc. But other insiders have apparently said that it's a spot on (necessarily OTT) depiction of what politics is like.

    One thing I really like about TTOI is when they show that, while there are outright unscrupulous power-hungry bastards in that world, there are also people who aren't necessarily bad, just operating under extreme conditions, and muddling their way through, almost certainly on the road to an ignominious end.

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    In the name of balance I should mention that there was some incident in his youth where Murdoch used his powers for good to save some guy who was being unfairly accused of a crime basically cos of Australian racism against the country's original inhabitants. It always stuck out to me cos nowadays you could pretty much guarantee he would throw his weight on the other side of the argument.

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    This is the story I'm on about. The thing is that I don't think Murdoch is racist or homophobic or whatever as a matter of principle, I just think he does whatever he reckons will make him money and power. But this case is surprising cos it doesn't seem to fit with that pattern.

    https://www.scmp.com/article/400961/...och-saved-life

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    https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v26/...ravo-l-artiste

    "In the 1980s, people like me thought that Murdoch was Dr Evil. It turns out that he isn’t, not because the man whose papers now support Labour is in secret a cuddly social democrat – a glimpse at the Post or the Sun or Fox News will take care of that fantasy; or because the man whose employment policies in the 1960s in Australia were memorably summed up as ‘no blacks, no poofters, no suede shoes’ now has black grandchildren, a Chinese wife and two mixed-race daughters; or because on one big, crucial question facing the future of Britain, that of the euro and the EU’s democratic deficit, he is, for once, on what seems to me to be the right side ... The real reason Murdoch isn’t Dr Evil is because being Dr Evil would get in the way of business. As Wolff puts it, ‘who doesn’t believe that, if his politics ceased to serve his strategy, his politics would change?’ He needs to be on the winning side, and needs to be able to change sides at will to keep it that way. This is the main reason why, in words of Chris Patten’s that express a deep weight of personal experience, ‘his help is only available when you don’t need it.’"

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    The Sun was implicated in Caroline Flack's death, right? And immediately began to delete articles from their website that had been cruel to her, and are now trumpeting a (from them) craven "You are not alone - The Sun for mental health" line.

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    I haven't really read about the Caroline Flack stuff (I'd never heard of her until the other day to be honest) but I remember that thing when Frank Bruno was admitted to a mental hospital and they led with a headline beginning "Bonkers Bruno" and basically it was all kinda written for laughs about the hilarious mad things he'd done. Then they started getting flack (ha) for that and the next edition they'd completely switched to a sympathetic viewpoint as they actually realised how popular Bruno was. I think it even got more sympathetic with each edition, then they launched a donation line or something to raise money for mental health... which they quietly dropped and stopped mentioning a few days later having raised about £43 or something. I read a report on the whole sorry saga in Private Eye. That's what so weird, it's all so blatant, it's right in front of everyone's eyes, you can see them screeching out one position and then switching one hundred and eighty degrees within a few hours and attacking people who said what they said previously... and no-one cares at all.

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    The Sun had a circulation of 1.4 million in 2019 — but that was down from 3 million in 2010.

    "Between 1994 and 1996, The Sun's circulation peaked. Its highest average sale was in the week ending 16 July 1994, when the daily figure was 4,305,957. The highest ever one-day sale was on 18 November 1995 (4,889,118), although the cover price had been cut to 10p. The highest ever one-day sale at full price was on 30 March 1996 (4,783,359)."

    Dunno if this is as heartening as I want it to be, given the left-wing press is also haemorrhaging readers — perhaps those so inclined are simply finding their right-wing sensationalist garbage online these days?

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    The Mail has lost a million since 2010

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...by_circulation

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    But I'd put that down to people reading more stuff online rather than any increasing disgust with the gutter press. That's what I've always completely assumed anyway.
    I don't know how long the dead-tree press will hang on anyway, it seems UK is part of a small group of countries where it still exists. One time when I went to Russia I was carrying a paper and this guy we met said "Such an English thing to do" or words to that effect (as far as I can tell papers - of course - became a mouthpiece of the state under communism and people lost interest in them to the extent that it never recovered again afterwards even when they were nominally more free), in Portugal I have literally never seen anyone I know read a newspaper. They do exist but I think the circulations are small and they just don't have the sway that they do here (or did). That's two countries I do have direct experience of, I'd have thought France and US were similar to UK in that they have traditionally powerful or well-regarded things that still hang on but are surely decreasing in influence and so on almost by the day.

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