Those aren't my words (sadly) but Brooker's uncanny description of Jade Goody's mother Jackiey. There's no doubting this Guardian journalist and co-creator of Nathan Barley has a way with the entertaining insult. From Nigella Lawson to Jamie Oliver to Jeremy Kyle, if their mug has appeared on TV then Charlie Brooker is almost certain to be slagging it off in some of the most inventively evil prose imaginable. Adrien Brody is 'a cross between Ross from Friends and a disappointed sundial'. I mean, really, that's genius. When Brooker's good, he's really good. I almost choked on my tea. 'Anne Robinson's face now appears so tight and Botoxed she seems to be pushing it through the taut skin of a tambourine'. I laughed until my ribcage ached.
The whole book isn't this funny, though. Which is good in a way because it gears you up for the really hilarious bits (and stops your cheek muscles from going into spasm). A quote from SpikeMagazine.com points out that he's not 'a one trick pony', but he kind of is, to be honest. That's not necessarily a problem, though - it depends on the trick. If you found a pony that did nothing but wash your dishes, you might not mind if it only knew the one trick. To compare Brooker to Chris (typed Christ first of all) Morris, his Nathan Barley writing partner, is to lose sight of the fact that Morris is a true innovator without whom etc etc, while Brooker is basically a curmudgeonly git, albeit the funniest one in the universe. He's like those two old men in the audience of the Muppet Show, with their white whiskery faces, heckling away. It's not just the gogglebox he loathes, but a variety of other random elements that impinge on his universe. He's spot on most of the time, except for the fact he hates kids and Macs, two things I'm especially fond of. It's unsettling to find yourself (or your likes) on the sharp edge of his tongue. He's bang on, though, about Richard Littlejohn, and George Bush, and Daleks patrolling the streets. Then he inexplicably goes ligging at Glastonbury with Aisleyne from Big Brother, and in one fell swoop shatters all the respect you built up for him over the past three hundred pages. It's like when Woody Allen decided, hey, the Oscars are cool after all; Bob Dylan getting into bed with Starbucks. A four-star read overall, then, with plenty of five-star sentences. And if you like this, try film critic Joe Queenan's 'If You're Talking to Me, Your Career Must be in Trouble', a kind of softcore ancestor of the rampant misanthropy that Brooker does so very, very well.
Unlike most of the other amazon reviewers here, I'm not going to attempt to come up with a blisteringly fantastic Brooker-esque metaphor to describe how captivatingly despicable this book is. I understand that I'll never be that clever a writer, and am in fact rubbish. This review is testemant to my miserable writing skills, which are evident in the way I just mispelled "testament". And "misspelled".
Anyway, Brooker is brilliant. Bitter, twisted and brilliant. Dawn of the Dumb is an excellent compilation of his best Guardian articles, and I was very pleased to find it under the tree this christmas. Read it during the ad breaks (to be clever), on the toilet, or when you're feeling drunk and misanthropic. Or just, you know, when you would read any other book.
These old articles show Charlie Brooker at his best. Witty Charlie showed anger to power and he came across as a real underdog. In fact, back then, it looked as if 'one of us' got lucky, got his foot inside the door, but he's still saying it as it is. Brooker was one of my favourite writers and I looked forward to his next round of witty anger.
Unfortunately, Charlie Brooker was never a true vintage, but fools bladder, and so, as he aged, he turned rancid and morphed into a nasty rich man, (or was he revealing his true colours?), Ill explain. But first, allow me to describe the old Charlie Brooker's style.
In his first ever his Screen Wipe program on BBC, Charlie Brooker defended a poor girl working in a takeaway, on the minimum wage, and he rightfully scolded the snobbish best'ard criticising her. These days, celebrities, comedians and MP's attack the poor and fetishize hard toil for the workers, and it's even seen as trendy. And here's Charlie Brooker defending a poor takeaway girl. Excellent.
I can't remember the exact scene, but Charlie Brooker, standing up for the girl, and with the BBC behind him, says to the snob, something like, "Well what else do you expect, a tit feed"? 'Do you want her to tit feed your baby"? " You're a pr'ck and she's on minimum wage"!!! Something like that.
Anyway, this was Charlie's Style.
Fast forward about 15 years into the future and Charlie Brooker writes a tasty piece about a worker in a store, he jokes about the wage slave, looking like a wage chimp! Charlie even made it sound funny, he worded his observation into a funny joke!!
Gone was the nobility of the sitarist, gone was the telling it to power. Like in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Charlie Brooker has changed. The sharp Charlie has been replaced by nastiness. He smells.
After this Guardian piece about the slave, Charlie Brooker's fans wrote on the comments wall, about the article denouncing Charlie Brooker. Hundreds of fans pointing out to Brooker that many graduates failed to get a proper job and worked on minimum wage to make ends meet, they have little choice, and that they are not slaves at all and they are far from failures. The fans just pointed out the obvious. Some even pointed out that Charlie Brooker was once there also. And some pointed out that Charlie Brooker was only popular because we imagined that he was one of us.
The next week Charlie Brooker wrote a grovelling article apologising and saying that doesn't really look down on working people.
But the damage was done. He revealed what he truly thinks.
This is what success brings? F'kc that my friend, F'k that!
on 25 September 2008
Brooker is currently the best-loved pop culture pundit amongst the jaded workshy internet-hogging sullen misanthrope demographic. This is an indesputable fact. He has sat aside the collective imagination of this unhappy group like a grumpy colossus since the launch of the spoof listings website TVGoHome back in what now feels like the mid-1800s, and he continues to do so with his Guardian articles and the brilliant Screenwipe show, which I'll wager most of you have seen on the Guardian website and youtube respectively rather than in actual grubby print or on actual proper telly. This all feels very word-of-mouthy and grass-rootsy, with friends slinging URLs at you every time he says something particularly interesting or rude, and part of the reason for this popularity is that, despite his grumbling and slightly forced self-deprecation, Brooker seems like a likeable, smart guy and has an unmatched talent for a pithy little vignette.
Seriously, it's completely unmatched: I've never read anyone who can produce a one paragraph nugget that manages to be as clever, scatological, sharp, heartfelt, and funny as Brooker. When most columnists try this sort of recipe it comes out indigestible and smug, like trying to swallow a lump of self-satisfied rancid grease; Brooker pulls it off effortlessly and still manages to seem human. This is probably the reason for his enduring net popularity, as in the land of short attention spans and thousands and thousands of competing distractions short, brilliant quotes are the primary currency - and he has them in abundance.
Which is the problem with the book, really. It's like printing out an entire website to read through it page by page rather than being linked directly to the funny picture of the cat with the amusing caption. It's impossible to write the brilliant little gems mentioned above every single week, and between them his writing is either ephemeral at best or completely irrelevant at worst. For every brilliant insight and one-liner, there's pages and pages of wibbling about, say, 2006's Big Brother - perfect for a weekly column, but its inclusion in a book seems a little eyebrow-raising. The fact that its readable at all two years later on is a tribute to Brooker's skill, but still you get the feeling that you've been swindled a bit by some sort of bait-and-switch scam. Yes, I know it never claimed to be anything other than a collection of articles, but "Dispatches from the Idiotic Frontline" to my mind suggested something more trim and toned and toothier. Perhaps this is just an inescapable result of taking Brooker out of his natural environment and cramming him willy-nilly into a book or perhaps they just wanted to bulk the book out some, but the "kitchen sink" approach doesn't really do the reader many favours.
A genuinely mixed bag, this: undeniably a good read, but you feel sort of like you'd rather have just googled "best Charlie Brooker quotes" instead. On the plus side, Brooker is one of the most genuinely enjoyable columnists you can read today and you get the feeling that much, much better is still to come.
It seems that readers of a certain age believe that Brooker is some kind of genius because of the deluge of vitriol he produces and his rather overwhelming "I hate everything!" attitude. This book is a collection of his newspaper columns, arranged in chronological order, and is better when dipped into than read in one go like a novel, as the anger and range can be a little overpowering when consumed in long sittings.
However, it cannot be argued that Brooker is an excellent journalist who just happens to be hysterically funny. When I read this book on holiday there were several occasions where I had to put it down as I was laughing so much, and on the rare occasion he finds something he likes you actually find yourself yearning for something to come along which angers him as this is when he is most entertaining. I particularly loved his analysis of the character of Paul Danan in "Celebrity Love Island", the alternative title for which made me laugh half a cup of tea out of my nose and cannot be reproduced here.
on 29 September 2010
It's hard to know how to comment on this book. On the one hand, I thought it was screamingly funny when I started reading it. Charlie Brooker is the master of the original and entertaining insult and he's prepared to describe segments of society as stupid, boring, useless and generally give voice to all the frustrations we feel with the rubbish we face every day and say the things that we would love (but simply wouldn't dare) to have said ourselves. He does it very well. Extremely well, in fact. I can't think of anyone who does it better.
The problem is that that's pretty well all he does and by the time I got halfway through this collection of articles I was desperately willing him to say something new rather than simply come up with another outrageous metaphor for how stupid Big Brother contestants are. So I really enjoyed the first half of the book but the second half was a real struggle. With hindsight, it would have been a good book to dip into. As it is, I ended up feeling that it was very samey -- you don't notice this in a weekly newspaper column as you have seven days to reset yourself but presented all at once there feels like there's a distinct lack of variety.
Poor old Charlie Brooker. He's a man out of time, trapped in a world he understands little and likes even less. Here is an essentially decent, liberal man who feels the need to defenestrate himself for our reading pleasure each week in the dear ol' Grauniad.
Reading this book is really like reading a potted social history of recent times, or at least for most of this book the televisual part of it. CB takes random and withering potshots at most of the deserving targets of our pathetic adulterated culture. Thankfully, most of the time, he manages to score direct hits. And how.
This book is not really to be read cover to cover, instead to be dipped in and out of because these columns were produced to be satisfying little gobbets; little secret missives that we read and where we knew that finally, here was someone who saw our risible so-called celeb-culture for the hollow, dead-eyed, grasping sham it all undoubtedly is. And worse, he loves TV the same we that we do (you can tell). As a result he is all the more coruscating when he thinks it falls short of what it should be. his rants about TV companies, their dalliances with premium rate phone lines and journalistic integrity were just beautiful.
And while I don't quite agree with the 'Macs are Fisher Price activity centre's for adults' line, it was was still funny enough to make me spit out hot tea through my nose as I laughed. Damn you, Charlie Brooker!
on 21 November 2007
Charlie Brooker is the finest writer of comedic similes that England - and probably the world - has ever produced. By the time I reached the words "hot rubber coin" in this book (and you should buy the whole thing just to find out how horribly apt this phrase is), I thought I might dislodge a vital organ, I was laughing so hard. Never has such beautiful writing been funnelled through such a raw, stinging aperture, and blasted at the reader with enough force to cut steel. Brooker is a literary berzerker. He's like a cross between PG Wodehouse and "D-Fens," the white-collar psychotic played by Michael Douglas in "Falling Down". His mantra seems to be: "If you don't laugh, you'll cry." And the more iniquitous the world gets, the harder the laughter has to be. Dawn of the Dumb not only succeeds in its primary aim - to skewer the stupid, marinade them in their own bathos and roast them over a slow flame - but also manages to make sarcasm the highest form of wit.
Dawn of the Dumb, the latest collection of Charlie Brooker's writing from the Guardian and the Observer confirms his position of the master of the celebrity insult. Only a man who can describe racing pundit John McCririck as lookign like a partially shaved womble deserves to be awarded that status, and that man is Brooker.
His talents don't end pouring scorn on Z-list 'celebs' (and A-Y List ones too if they deserve it). If you like your humour blacker than pitch, cynical and served with a side order of general loathing he is also your man. With some of his columns causing uncontrolled public chuckling, Brooker is a genuinely funny writer about a wide variety of subjects (although if you have no interest in contemporary popular culture and specifically TV you might want to give this a miss). He's also an equal opportunity insulter, with anyone and anything considered by him a legitimate target for his laser sharp and withering scorn.
Of course his eternal cynicism or his sense of humour will not appeal to everyone. These things are subjective after all. Equally some of the collected columns and articles are stronger than others. Finally it should be said that Dawn of the Dumb is not really a book to be read from cover to cover in one sitting; it is more the sort of book you dip into whilst on a break from reading something else to have a giggle and find yourself secretly agreeing with Brooker's views on life.
Charlie Brooker is a writer for the Guardian Newspaper-amongst other things. He writes sentences just like i did a minute ago , except most of his (Even i have the odd moment of comedic inspiration) are roughly 35.6 X funnier than any of mine. Brooker has a weekly TV review column called "Screen Burn"- which are compiled in a very fine book also called "Screen Burn " - but Dawn Of The Dumb while including many of his TV rants also includes numerous columns he has written for the Guardian on world matters, including his infamous tirade against George Bush where he basically said it would,nt be a bad thing if he was blown up by a terrorist. The main thing about Brooker though is what ever he writes about is done with lacerating humour and verbose spite but verbose in a good way. The man wields his pen ( metaphorically i suppose as he probably uses a typy thing like me) like a scimitar.....dipped in strychnine
Brooker is the print version of Chris Morris( They wrote media satire "Nathan Barley" together) in that he has a wondrous way of subverting language, deconstructing words and meanings and then re-assembling them so the connotation is still abundantly clear but is spleen burstingly funny with it. He also refreshingly for a critic of a broadsheet , is ready to embrace much of populist culture so his musings on " X Factor", "I'm A Celebrity Get me Out Of Here", "Celebrity Big Brother" are most welcome. Only Ally Ross of "The Sun" so lavishly savages popular TV while at the same time acknowledging how grossly entertaining much of it can be. That he is also allowed to target his acidic word cannon on politics and other serious stuff is a magnificent bonus.
Charlie Brooker could be viewed as a misanthropic bundle of barbed wire were it not the fact that 99% of his targets fully deserve the critical disembowelling he dishes out. The other 1% probably deserve it too but I'm too stupid or blinkered to realise it. Anyone who thinks Colin Fry off "The Sixth Sense" looks like a "Failed prototype Chuckle Brother" or Paul Dannan looks like "Jude Law crossed with the Crazy Frog" and is a "Bell end of considerable magnitude" is worthy of the highest regard we can give him . So clearly in lieu of our inability to bestow awards or honours on him (Though he would undoubtedly view them as despicable contrived glitter trinkets dispensed by crusty establishment wastes of internal organs) the least we can do is buy his bloody book.