Tag Archives: Chris Morris

The Alan Moore Jerusalem interview tapes, #1: Brexit, democracy and Stewart Lee

24 Sep
Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee: “the funniest man in the world,” says Moore

I recently spent six hours with Alan Moore. I wrote this feature about it. But the total interview transcript ran to 30,000 words. So, on my blog, in daily instalments, I’m going to be posting the edited highlights – as far as possible, all in Moore’s own words.

First up: Alan Moore on Brexit, reassuring Stewart Lee, and the small matter of exactly how to fix our broken democracy.

Alan Moore: “One of the things that upset me most about the referendum is that Stewart Lee, the comedian who I think is the funniest man in the world, phoned me up two days later seeking reassurance and cheering up. And I thought, ‘Oh fuck. Stewart lee is phoning me, with all my dystopian misery, because he wants cheering up!’

“He told me that he already phoned Chris Morris [writer of Brass Eye], and that Morris had said that he was practically terrified… that he looked out of his window, and he saw a wood pigeon, pecking about on his lawn, and thought, ‘That wood pigeon does not, and will never understand that we are withdrawing from the European Union.’ And he says: ‘And I took comfort in that.’ That is the most worrying moment, when you’ve got the best satirical comedian phoning you up for reassurance.

“I hadn’t realised how surrounded by idiots I was. That’s perhaps a harsh judgement [on the Brexit referendum], but it’s one that I’ll stick by.

“There’s a good line in Private Eye [the UK’s foremost satirical news magazine]: ‘Britain votes to exit frying pan’. I have spoken to the people I know who did vote Leave, many of whom the morning after said, ‘I don’t know if it was the right thing, it was kind of a protest vote’. A lot of them didn’t understand that if enough of you vote for a thing, it will happen! I think it’s completely idiotic. I do have a couple of friends who voted out for political reasons, and I respect that.

On whether he voted: “Of course I didn’t. I’m an anarchist. I don’t believe in democracy, and I think that this shows the massive flaws. If you’re going to have democracy in an ill-informed, massive population you’re always going to get shit like this. That is my opinion.

“And, I’ve often said, you cannot have democracy and Rupert Murdoch on the same planet. It’s like, how’s that going to work? The only way that democracy would work is if we were to adopt the Athenian direct democracy system.

“Now, I’m not championing the Athenians: they kept slaves, they weren’t perfect. But if they had got an issue that affected the whole country, they would appoint by lottery a jury, of say 50 people, from all walks of life, probably actually except the slaves, but the principle is: you’ve got a decision of national importance to be made, you have 50 people, then you have two people giving the pros and the cons, like in a court. Two experts explaining thoroughly the reasons for and against. Then you let them vote, then immediately you dissolve the jury; they dissolve back into the normal population.

“So straight away you remove the possibility of an administration voting for extra perks, pay rises, because they are not going to be the administration, it’s in their interests to vote for what is best for the broad mass of the population which they will be returning into. That would work.

“People have said, ‘oh well, direct democracy is just endless referendums’. No. You don’t need to ask everybody in the country, as long as you’ve got a representative section. That would work, and that would be a form of democracy that anarchists could vote for, because it would not be about appointing leaders. So, that is what I would favour.

On whether abstaining from voting is losing the power to effect change: “I would say that I believe all political action, for my own part, should be direct; I believe I can probably have, personally, more of a political effect than by simply voting for somebody.

I’ve been saying, for some years now, we need to change the whole political system from the ground up: modifying it, that won’t work. And there are other people saying this now. I was originally saying, first off, we need a national living wage, for everybody, irrespective of whether that person is in or out of work, that will end the poverty trap. It will be expensive, but not as expensive as Trident [the UK’s submarine-based nuclear weapons programme]. Also the administration costs that you would not have to pay anymore, that would pay for a lot of the benefits.”

Jerusalem is out now in hardback from Knockabout in the UK and Liveright in the US. To read the second part of Moore’s theories on government, click here. For the full interview feature, click here.

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Charlie Brooker on why he hates writing, warp factors, Twitter and Transformers

11 Nov
Charlie Brooker (photo from London Screenwriters' Festival, by Chris Floyd)

Charlie Brooker (photo from London Screenwriters’ Festival, by Chris Floyd)

My sixth despatch from the recent London Screenwriters’ Festival is the fearlessly acerbic critic-turned-creative Charlie Brooker. You don’t need any commentary from me – just sit back and enjoy the rant.

On why he “f***ing hates” writing: If I appear to write a lot, that’s interesting. I have a terrible fear I’m not doing enough. I f***ing hate writing. I love the ideas side, and I love having written, but I hate the process of writing. There’s occasionally a eureka moment, but my life is a constant struggle to enter that and avoid the myriad distractions, like an acorn rolling by. I love my job, but it’s also like a fucking curse. The biggest high of it is “thank God I’ve finished that”. It’s just like the feeling of having done a massive poo.

On Touch of Cloth: I was going to say it’s like Airplane for cop shows, but I realise that’s Police Squad! So it’s The Naked Gun, but for Britain. It’s a collaboration – we run a writers’ room for it. We bought a script by the man who made Messiah, which was very bleak, and then used that as a basis for drawing knobs on, basically, because we were aping those dark Sunday night dramas that everyone seems to love but that I think are pornographic and weird, and dull.

We also got a compilation made of scenes from crime dramas, like morgue scenes, and when you watch nothing but these similar scenes, you spot the same tropes and clichés and become inherently funny. It was vital that in our world, none of the characters could acknowledge that what was going on was at all weird. Like in Naked Gun, where Leslie Nielsen takes it all seriously. The director would shout before every scene, “Don’t forget, you’re doing a serious drama – this is a real body, it’s the body of a child.”

On Black Mirror: The kind of sci-fi I like is allegorical, like The Twilight Zone. Not people with croissant-shaped foreheads talking about warp factors. Rod Serling did The Twilight Zone because he wanted to do plays about racism and McCarthyism, and couldn’t get them on air. That was my focus for the show.

Technology is never the villain in Black Mirror. It’s always, here’s a powerful tool – I don’t mean the character! – here’s a powerful technological tool, and we let the character pick it up and hit themselves repeatedly on the head with it.

We’ve just been shooting a Christmas special, with three episodes, like a Twilight Zone anthology. Jon Hamm’s starring in that because he’s a big fan of the show. It’s about what if you could block someone in real life like you do on Twitter, so they just become an anonymous blob – they can’t hear you or talk to you; and you play out the consequences of that. What I like is TV shows where you get to the end and you feel f***ing devastated. Now they’re all about easily entertaining people. How dare they!

On Nathan Barley: Oh god, writing with Chris Morris was terrifying. I was terrified he’d show up like his Day Today persona, and tell me to f***ing shut up, but he was jolly and friendly and very collaborative. But he’ll interrogate every aspect. He takes ages. We had a meeting before 9/11 and it actually went on air in 2005. We had meeting after meeting to discuss how to do it.

On Twitter: There’s this babble of voices, everyone feeling they have to chip in their two pence worth on how awful it is that Ed Milliband’s just done a poo on the High Street. And I do the same – why? Then everyone feels they have to outdo each other and exaggerate, and it all piles on top of each other, and before you know it everyone is performing, badly, and you’re struck by the existential pointlessness of it… So I wrote a column about it, going “here’s what I think about this! Look at this!”

On why it can be more creative to work on a low budget: The last 20 minutes of every big-budget movie is like you’re staring into a washing machine full of cars and robots and things all smashing together.