Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Cause and Effect?

I've more or less finished the first ghostwriting project, and the client wants to go straight into the sequel, so I must be doing something right. Now, if only I knew what...

Just to echo something in the paper this morning- the presentation of TV history by newsreaders/other presenters doesn't always work. I can't really comment on the David Dimbleby series in question (to the extent that I'm not 100% certain that I haven't got confused and it's the other brother) having turned over in a strop after ten minutes over annoying things like beginning a history of the British Isles with the Roman invasion, but all too often there are problems associated with a lack of real expertise, such as a lack of connection with the argument as it stands, or an insufficiently critical approach to thinking about the past. This isn't always the case, and whichever Dimbleby it turns out to be is certainly a great broadcaster, but really, would they ask Simon Schama to run political commentary and present the news?

A thought on history, its uses, and TV more generally. One of the main facets of historical study is gaining an understanding of causation, or how to pick apart how things influenced other things to happen in the past. As such, it puts me in a position to notice some of the shoddy thinking at the heart of certain other programmes, notably those in the 'self help' genre. I turned one on the other night for ten minutes or so, because it was on immediately before something I actually wanted to watch, and even in that time we had things like 'This person didn't give up. Therefore to be successful you mustn't either.' Irritating, badly reasoned, and also, as it happens, wrong. You never hear in these things about the people who didn't give up, and still didn't get what they wanted, or about the ones who gave up at one thing and then threw their efforts into something that they were actually quite good at, do we?

3 comments:

Jodie said...

Preach! Also did you see the Dan Snow British navy mini series a month ago?

englishcoach said...

Personally, I wouldn't even ask Simon Schama to present a history programme, because I find his broadcasting manner extremely irritating - he went to the waggly head school of broadcasting. And there he is on Radio 4 drumming up interest in politics, so there you are. Dunno what that proves.
Dimbleby (it's David BTW) is just so enthusiastic , and it's not really pretending to be history, it's looking at nice pictures. Or books. Or statues. Which were made in the past.

stu said...

The trouble is, I found the accompanying book on the shelves of the university book shop's history section. Apparently, TV history is now good enough for supposedly serious academics.

I don't know why I'm surprised by that. I know one person who got a course outline from the 'Horrible History' series of books.