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Interviews with Grant MorrisonBarbelith Interviews » Interview with an Umpire
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BY: I suppose I should talk about some stuff that's not comics. How much time do you have by the way?
GM: As long as we get back for The Celebrities!
Kristan: (laughs)
GM: The most important thing in our lives.
BY: I've not actually watched it. I saw a little bit the other day.
GM: Are you insane? (laughs)
BY: I watched Big Brother. I mean that's the benchmark isn't it?
Kristan: Big Brother's too-
GM: You think of big brother and think, 'Ah fuck it, that's yesterdays news!' (laughs)
Kristan: Its seems very bland in comparison.
GM: This is the first time we've had personalities because all these people went to stage school-
BY: What about Celebrity Big Brother?
GM: I saw that. It was okay but this is - They're losing their minds. It's brilliant. They're forming into these...It's like Lord of the Flies, you're just watching people utterly disintergrate.
BY: I'm gonna have to watch it now!
GM: All these different personalities are appearing. Because they're entertainers, they're trying harder to be more interesting. They're really interesting to watch.
Kristan: They're also worried they might come across really badly.
GM: They're trying hard not to appear bad but it's making them worse!
Kristan: They're not actually succeeding.
BY: How real are the conditions? I mean is it not-
GM: Nah. They've got rice and water to live on. They shit in their own hats and everything. (laughs)
BY: Aye but the camera crew; are they there? Or is it just cameras sitting there?
GM: There are cameras everywhere! They're cameras prying from every angle.
BY: It'd be good if it was animals actually filming it.
GM: (laughs)
Kristan: It's quite remotely done. The only time anyone intervenes is if it's something dangerous and the camera might actually kill them. Like a poisonous snake-
GM: Sometimes snakes come in so they have these guys run in - perverts in the trees - and they crack it like a bullwhip and it's brains come out and hits a tree.
BY: I'm kinda intrigued now because I saw it and thought, 'Christ, y'know, not again!', another reality show.
Kristan: It's quite well done.
GM: It's fantastic.
Kristan: It's different from the other things about space and how-
GM: The way people are fracturing. Watching the different allegiances that form. People protect one another one night and then they're killing each other the next night. And you think, 'How could this happen? How could these people be assuming so many roles?
Kristan: They're doing all the things you sorta hoped they would do. Y'know when you watch Big Brother you kinda hope its all going to start breaking down and go a bit mad and just go that wee bit over the edge? Well they are. To be honest last night's one, particularly, was everybody shouting from the beginning to the end. It's high-octane viewing. You have to watch it expecting to hear people shouting for an hour. It's worse than the soap operas.
GM: Uri Geller eating the bugs - It was like the ending of Requiem for a Dream.
BY: Eating the bugs?
GM: He had to eat bugs! He's a vegetarian. There he is just sitting there going through all these cosmic traumas while he's tucking into these living things. These things are alive! - they're actually crawling on his plate. He has to do this challenge so everyone else can eat - it was the best television I've seen in ages. Apart from the one the other night where Darren Day came out in a dress and bra and heels. This thing though (the bug) - he just kept cutting into it and they kept zooming in to its final death throes!
Kristan: He felt he had to do it and because he obviously has these so-called powers of being able to put his brain on to something else.
BY: Did he not throw?
GM: He nearly did! He had that intensity. Y'know, (makes ready to throw up noises)
BY: (laughs)
GM: He had that kinda...mmmhh..fuck..mmhh..and they just let him off with a commercial break and we were like, shaking!
Kristan: He refused to kill anything and they kept introducing things which were alive and because he had set himself into it (the show) so much he killed this little long thin grub thing.
GM: (laughs hysterically)
Kristan: He threw it in-
BY: How did he kill it?
GM: He just chucked it!
Kristan: But then it got worse. This big old thing came out. It was about this size, this white old larvae and it was moving and he's going, Oh! It's not alive is it? Oh! Oh!' But then what he say is, "Do I have to eat it all? They're like, 'No, no, no, no, no. You don't have to eat it all. So he has to eat a piece. But a piece means killing it
BY: A leg o' grub?
Kristan: It's all just segmented blubbery bits. But then you just see this spoon, and he just hammers right into it!
GM: He looks like he's really getting into it. The bloodlust. 'Anything bigger?'
BY: Bizarre. I'll have to watch it. But he's not on it any more. So has it dipped?
GM: Well it gets worse as one's leaving every night.
Kristan: Yeah. Cos Nigel Benn was on it as well. Nigel Benn (boxer) was a horror.
GM: He was threatening women. He was getting out of control. It was because he was the only black guy and all the unconscious racism emerged. They were all forming groups against him. And he was getting more and more aggressive and living up to this stereotype.
Kristan: Anytime anyone said anything out of order to him he'd instantly get his dukes up. He was doing it all the time to women, to everybody. He always got his fists up.
GM: They made Tara Palmer Tompkinson ('It' girl) carry a huge steel box all he way through the jungle just shouting at her.
BY: I don't believe a word of this.
GM: You don't know what you've been missing.
Kristan: Yeah, they made her carry it because it's like, 'You're my bitch now', or something like that.
GM: You're watching human lives disintegrate into complete cartoons.
BY: So, do you see.....- I'm trying to think of something sensible to-
GM: Yeah - pull us out of that one!
BY: This can't go in the magazine article - it can go on Barbelith! 'Yeah boss, we just spoke about The Celebrities in the Jungle programme....'
GM: (laughs) 'That's all he's interested in!' (laughs). 'Talks a good game!'
BY: 'Writes a good game'. Aye. Fiction. Is Reality TV a new form of fiction?
GM: It's just taking its place. That's why it's getting more fictional. The dramas are getting more absurd. But it's a poor substitute. I keep talking about these great plays they used to have. I grew up watching David Rudkin and Dennis Potter. Where is that now? So I guess there's not that much in these programmes but they're fun to watch. In the celebrity culture where everyone is obsessed with celebrity, (and all the superheroes are now obsessed with celebrity) it's just part of the deal.
BY: I think you're right about it being a poor substitute. It is entertaining and you can be succoured into it but-
GM: You're watching emotional thing happen. Before it was dramatists shaping it into meaningful forms and structure and giving it emotional resonance and catharsis. With these things you don't get any catharsis. You get a lot of screaming and throwing books at the television.
BY: Like Drugs.
GM: Yeah. It's very like drugs. I guess that's the way it works because you start craving. I can't wait for tonight's episode. It never seems to last long enough. It's exactly like drugs.
BY: But I felt like that after this year's Big Brother. I didn't want to watch Big Brother the second time round, but I did. And I didn't want to watch it third time round but I did. And each night I watched it I was waiting for it to end, y'know, it made me feel sick, I was getting withdrawl symptoms or something. I don't know what it was. Maybe it wasn't pure enough! (laughs) It wasn't entertaining me but I felt compelled to watch. And as you're saying I think it is the short straw because I was fifteen and I was watching The Singing Detective, y'know.
GM: Now, that would be considered challenging or cryptic or any other number of ridiculous words.

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