28 July 2012

Voxpops, Olympics, 'multi-cultural crap'?

There’s no satisfying swish of celluloid falling to the cutting room floor in the age of digital film, but the pride in weaving together snippets of miscellaneous opinion into a seamless multimedia thread is still palpable. Having provoked Bloomsbury to hold forth into our digicams on the Olympics yesterday, today we were editing the footage into a news-style vox pop piece.   

Inevitably, everyone interviewed thought the transport would be a disaster. The difference was whether they shrugged in a wearily British kind of way, and decided to put up with it, or foamed and raved. Somehow train delays are something we learn to tolerate, but the Olympic road lines - the Zil lanes - drive people into (a traffic jam and) a righteous, apoplectic fury. Being held up on a train is annoying. Being held up in traffic jam is an affront to your individuality, it seems. 
Speaking of British, we watched the Olympic opening ceremony in a pub round the corner from PMA. (It’s been our only night out so far. ) When I got home, I muted the BBC’s commentary, which began to sound a bit like a Trivial Pursuit question writers’ editorial meeting, and followed what people on Twitter were saying instead. Much wittier, and a fantastic way to keep abreast of opinion. 
A news story of a sort broke, too. MP Aidan Burley described the ceremony on Twitter as ‘leftie multi-cultural crap’. (If this is the same Aidan Burley who got into trouble for going to a Nazi-themed stag party, I’m not sure his view is very reliable when it comes to judging the sane boundaries of left and right) When someone makes a prat of themselves on Twitter, the response is brutal. It’s going to be fascinating to see how Twitter fits into the journalistic landscape in future.  

One of the fascinations of interviewing the public vox-pop style is that you can never judge tell what you’re going to get from the appearance of potential interviewees. (And you do need to make some appearance-based judgements to try to get a cross section of opinion.) Assumption and prejudice are always challenged. 
The bulky, hairless man, with a dog which is a disturbing hybrid of barrel and alligator, turns out to be a fan of Yukio Ninagawa’s Japanese Cymbeline at the cultural Olympiad. The statuesque lady reading ‘Homes and Gardens’ magazine in Tavistock Square has tickets she actually wanted to buy for the wrestling finals. I’d like to think that this would be just as true of anywhere else, but I’m not sure. The fact that most Londoners can simply be themselves in whatever way they find fulfilling is, I think, a wonderful thing. The variety of life here is astounding. That seems to me to be one pretty good reason for London to have the Olympics, and something the opening ceremony managed to convey, in its peculiar jumble of vignettes. That’s not crap. It’s not even leftie. Get used to it, Mr Burley.   

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