Editorial — Return of the Editorial, Issue 16 (Part Deux)

I love globalisation. No, I’m not referring to G8 summits with their water canons, baton charges and anarchists — although, they do have their moments — I’m referring to Hollywood globalisation. The global village is shrinking to the degree that Hollywood has no option but to release its blockbusters coincidentally ‘round the world — everyone will be viewing a bootleg before the day’s out otherwise. The big blockbuster season falls smack bang in the northern hemisphere’s Summer, around the time of Independence Day. So instead of viewing Shrek 7, Harry Potter XXIV, and the Fabulous Four IV during our holidays we see them during the Yanks’ breaks. I’m sitting here writing this article during my ‘day off’ on the Queen’s Birthday… and for the life of me I can’t figure out why we don’t ditch Liz’s big day for Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Groundhog Day, Hanukkah and every other festivity Hollywood holds holy. Let’s dispense with the charade and lock steps with the only culture that matters.

The only problem with Blockbuster Season is the broadsheet media’s preoccupation with the intrinsic worth of the sequel. If I have to read one more article in the grown-up papers about big-budget sequels stultifying creativity… well, so help me. If it wasn’t for preternatural levels of creativity Sylvester Stallone 27th outing as Rocky wouldn’t get beyond the opening credits — I rest my case… court dismissed. Anyway, the day of the goatie ’n’ beret auteur is well and truly over. No one cares about an Iranian shaky-camera production about some Uzbek peasant and her tender friendship with a dead camel… except perhaps for David and Margaret (“simply breathtaking, I’m giving it five stars”, “yes, me too, five stars”).

Bah humbug, sequels are the ant’s… the duck’s… the dog’s. If it was good the first time then, please, just keep wheeling it out… jump the shark… jump the couch… until you run out of Roman numerals.

Which is all by way of a long-winded means of warming up anyone left reading this column into believing this editorial — effectively a cheap facsimile of last issue’s — remains somehow worth the paper its printed on.

Last issue I rolled out the red carpet in preparation for our Outdoor/Alfresco/Smoke-Free issue. This issue I’m shampooing and de-rucking the carpet because the VIPs have arrived and are sipping Bolly in the foyer.

Over the last couple of months we’ve had a great time unearthing the alfresco success stories — operators that have set their sights outdoors and are reaping the rewards. What was evident to me was that the hotter competition for the alfresco dollar means people are hankering for indoor comfort outdoors — they want to stay warm/cool (depending which side of tropics you’re on), dry, fed, watered, and entertained. We’ve covered the full gamut of outdoor offerings, from the über-swanky to the grungy, but each example represents considerable investment of thought and emotional energy.

Unfortunately, the thunderhead that hangs over this issue is Big Tobacco’s continued reluctance to embrace our Clean Air (Menthol) Alfresco Issue. After last issue’s compelling cri d’coeur (that’s French for ‘I’m cheap, please bribe me’) I was gob-smacked to not be bundled into a 50-foot-long black limo and told ‘we know what your kid’s favourite cereal is’ or shown a suitcase full of cash (‘that’s what a lot of money looks like… impressive huh?’). There wasn’t a furtive underground carpark encounter with a disfigured Deep Throat with a buzzing trachi voice vibrator, not even a mystery fax from Small Tobacco… nothing.

Maybe (BT) Big Tobacco believes there will be lingering suspicion of its moves to bankroll venues’ new outdoor decks. Ah baloney. No one cares… except for a couple of paternalistic bureaucratic stuff-shirts. If some BT largesse means we get to keep Madame Brussels well, bring it on. In fact, I might just turn up in my (fully-sponsored?) camel suit to celebrate.

Stop press: venue managed to gain a sneak preview of the follow up to the government’s ‘shock and awe’ anti-smoking campaign. This time they’ve employed a two-packs-a-day real-life smoker, Alfie, to dissuade youngsters from taking up the habit.

“There’s nothing grown up or clever about smoking.”

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