Thursday, 13 January 2011

A Year in Books 2011 - Screen Burn




One of the interesting thing about visiting friends is when you need the bathroom check out their toilet reading.. well okay it is not that interesting but it is how I ended up reading Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn.


It was on the bog that I picked up a copy of Screen Burn and found myself in the embarrassing situation of staying in the bathroom much too long and laughing too loudly.


At the time I didn't know too much about Charlie Brooker , I'd not seen the tv go home website (reigniting the old not the 9 o'clock news trick of setting up fake tv schedules in the style of the radio times ... although a lot ruder) and as I didn't read the Guardian I'd missed his tv review column.


Since then I've caught a few of his tv version of the review column and strangely he is now better known as turning Davina McCall into a zombie for the high concept zombies in the big brother house "Dead Set" and getting married to Konnie Huq whose presence on Blue Peter did a lot to increase the audience figures for dads watching with their kids.


The book Screen Burn is a selection of Brooker's Guardian Column from 2000 - 2003. Charlie Brooker's writing literally boils with rage at some of the tripe that is served up on our tv screens in the name of popular entertainment. He is merciless in his vitriol as he goes after both the popular (Davina McCall gets it repeatedly) and the obscure (unlike other reviewers he seems to take pleasure in trawling the outer reaches of satellite tv). However what stops it being just a raging rant is that he is also very funny, and with all good comedy, it really is just an extreme of what we are all thinking.


A pattern soon emerges, a description of the programme, an exasperated rant on why oh why it was ever made, ending with Brooker wishing some cartoon violence on either those involved or himself just to end the suffering. It is the one criticism that this pattern may work over a weekly /daily column , but in a book there at times does become a bit predictable.


It isn't all bile , some programmes provide him with an oasis of enjoyment, and the really interesting thing is reading his reaction to programmes that go on to be massive , 24 , Big Brother etc. and also the endless programmes that never got past the first series and are now lost to obscurity.


You can buy Screen Burn here , the perfect toilet book

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