Private Investigations

Events Trends & Culture - March 20th, 2009
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by Robert M. Poole

ALWAYS BE NICE TO BANKERS. ALWAYS BE NICE TO PENSION FUND MANAGERS. ALWAYS BE NICE TO THE MEDIA. IN THAT ORDER. – Lord James Hansen

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Media and its reporters these days are often regarded suspiciously at best, and as vermin at worst. The term ‘paparazzi’ actually comes from the name of a news photographer in Federico Fellini’s classic 1960 film, La Dolce Vita. The character Paparazzo had been supposedly so-named by the director from an Italian dialect meaning ‘mosquito,’ describing an annoying noise.

The fast-dwindling sales and circulations of newspapers in the internet generation suggests the need for this media is falling, replaced by blogs, fan-sites, and direct advertising from artists and creators to their fans. And perhaps this convinces certain media to push harder for their exclusive exposé, intruding in the private lives of celebrities to the detriment of everyone.

Having worked on both sides of the divide, I value the media more than ever. Never has a time existed with so much creative material being provided to the public. How can anyone know where to begin? The filter of the media, if it can be trusted and its opinion remains unbiased, is vital to make choices. And in the download internet generation, creators being nice to the media to be highlighted seems more important than ever.


MUSIC: Hitomi Yaida—The Best Of (Aozora Records)

Osakan Hitomi Yaida gets a deserved summary of her seven albums with this double disc distillation that leaves few stones unturned in her significant back catalogue. Dubbed a ‘heart rock’ artist by her fans, her reputation as a singer-songwriter was enhanced by her early forays in the UK, where she toured and put out early singles under her nickname ‘Yaiko.’ A French language and literature student, she proved herself quite a wordsmith, a rare artist able to mix English and Japanese effectively on tracks like the melancholic piano-rock of チェイン (Chain). She even named one album Air/Cook/ Sky—an anagram of ‘Yaiko rocks.’ Yaida’s first two albums both hit number one in Japan, and since then she’s established herself as an ambitious and creative artist, unafraid to tackle new sounds, as on 2005’s folk-rock of マワルソラ. A fine retrospective of an artist with clearly more to give.

PODCAST: On The Hour

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In just 12 episodes from 1991 to 1992 on BBC Radio 4, On The Hour’s blend of surrealism and sharp comedic political commentary rewrote the books on satire. Headed by then little-known Chris Morris and supported by Stewart Lee, Richard Herring, Armando Iannucci, and Steve Coogan, the fake news shows cut to the heart of supposed media manipulation, exposing listeners’ gullibility to the disdain of some and the mirth of others. Broadcast with such realism it was sometimes hard to grasp the concept behind absurd stories like “Ireland has burst.” The show directly spawned TV classics like The Day Today and Brass Eye, which only upped the ante to a state of controversy with the infamous promotion of drug use in the episode “Cake”. Lost in legal wranglings for years, the tapes have been restored and even feature the very first appearance of Alan Partridge—on the sports desk no less.

SCREEN: Crunchy Roll

Launched in August 2006, Crunchy Roll has developed into the premiere one-stop shop for anime and east-Asian TV fans worldwide, and 2009 sees the new-look version developing its content again. With five million users to their name, the site got the go-ahead in January 2009 from TV Tokyo to stream episodes of popular anime Naruto, with English-subtitles, just one hour after broadcast. It marks a move from user-uploaded content to copyright-approved content from some of the giants of Japanese anime, such as Gonzo and Toei.

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Founded by a group of University of California-Berkeley students, Crunchy Roll is now home to several notable anime series, as well as dramas and films. The latest, Naruto, is based on a manga from 1999 in which the hero, Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja, aims to gain the respect and the leadership of his village. With 220 episodes in its first run, it’s the sequel Naruto: Shippuden that currently airs.

For sports fans, Crunchy Roll streams the animated version of Slam Dunk; an original manga that sold 100 million copies in Japan. The anime actually ran on TV Asahi from 1993 to 1996 and tells Takehiko Inoue’s story of a basketball team from Shohoku High School that combines various misfits into a contender for the national championship.

As well as anime, Crunchy Roll offers films such as Ki Seong-soo’s 2003 Korean comedy Please Teach Me English and the award-winning offbeat thriller Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) by director Park Chan-wook, the third installment in The Vengeance Trilogy, following Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and Oldboy (2003).