Saturday, 29 December 2007

These Pages Are Naked

This is an article that was received by Faustus a couple of weeks ago. It certainly made him chuckle and it even made him think a bit. So, in the spirit of debate, it is herewith offered. The point that Faustus took from it is that it questions the rationale behind some of the commissioning decisions we've been seeing. Anyway, with thanks to the author:

I was a small boy in a strange land.

I approached a crowd of people wearing beautifully crafted suits and talking on Prada phones. As I stared up at their excited faces I saw they were all from the BBC: Producers, Development Executives and Commissioners of every kind.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “The Emperor is coming and he’s going to shower us with gifts.” came the reply from one ecstatic face.

And in that moment the crowd parted and I saw the Emperor for the first time, seated on a golden carriage. The crowd became enraptured, shouting and cheering, each vying with each other for a closer look at their mighty ruler.

They began throwing money at him, gold and silver of every kind. The Emperor smiled benignly and ordered his carriage to a halt.

The crowd waited with bated breath as the Emperor stood, reached into an old leather pouch and produced two huge manuscripts, so thick that the crowd could only gasp in awe. He held them high in the air, “My loyal subjects." he boomed "I have finished my latest works of genius.”

A huge cheer erupted from the crowd. “Enjoy” and with that the Emperor threw the manuscripts in the air, their unbound pages scattering in the wind.

Each member of the crowd began to desperately clamber for the pages, greedy like hyenas, collecting huge armfuls at a time. Screams of ecstasy could be heard from all corners of the crowd as they devoured every word.

A page fluttered in my direction, catching my hand. I turned it over, the page was blank. Odd! I thought. I reached for another page blowing in the wind, it too was blank. And as I looked at the crowd I realised that every single page they had collected was completely void of words.

“These pages are naked…” I said to myself quietly.

Upon which this strange world came to an icy halt and the crowd turned in unison, staring at me with incredulity.

“What did you say boy?” came a disapproving voice.

“These…These pages are blank” I squeaked meekly. “Can, can nobody see it but me. There’s no drama, no jeopardy, no real words at all…”

Gasps of shock erupted from the crowd. But then suddenly one of the younger Producers looked at the paper in his hand. “He’s.. he's right… there is nothing there.” A Commissioner nearby noticed the same thing. The realisation spread quickly through the crowd, their looks of incredulity suddenly turning to ones of anger.

But the Emperor did not become leader by chance, clearing his throat he addressed his people.
“Have I not served you well these past fifteen years? Have I not brought rewards for you all, awards, bragging rights, the smug glow of knowing you are part of the intellectual elite."

The crowd looked at each other, reluctantly agreeing before the Emperor continued...

"For these manuscripts are the same story I have always told, if you cannot see it now, you will have been wrong all these past years. You will have to admit you have been fooled and held to ridicule for the many hundreds of thousands of pounds you have showered on me in the past."

This seemed to quieten the crowd, sending them into deep contemplation. Suddenly the Emperor pointed his great finger at me.

“The boy is blind. How could he possibly see the greatness within these pages, did you not hear him speak, he’s… working class…”

The crowd gasped and I heard a shout of “The Emperor’s right, how could the boy possibly know anything.”

And that’s when I felt the first stone, a sharp crack on my forehead followed by the warm sensation of blood trickling down my brow and into my eyes. A second stone quickly followed, then a third. I saw the baying crowd through a haze of red. Shouts of “Heretic” and “Neophile” followed stone after stone. Darkness came swiftly, light never to return.

And now, as I look down from heaven on this strange land, the Emperor is still seated on his throne and I read with a heavy heart that after the audience apathy and critical lashing inflicted on the Emperor's last two shows, the crowd have arranged for several lorry loads of licence payers money to be delivered to the Emperor’s Palace with a polite request for him to develop “something epic” for 2009.

How the Emperor must have laughed…

Written by: Issit Justme (22.12.07)


Gail Renard said...

What a wonderful gift you've given us, Faustus! But as ever with success stories in our industry, the tale for our times doesn't end there. Here's its exciting sequel:

The grateful Emperor was given so many lorry-loads of licence payers' money, that he was able to build a new palace, in the far far kingdom of Salford. He made many subjects redundant yet no one heard them complain because their microphones had been confiscated.

On his way to Salford, the Emperor espied a beautiful princess (it's gotta be a princess; no self-respecting girl dreams of being Emperess.) And lo, the Emperor gave the Princess's glad father many lorry-loads of the aforementioned money to woo her to his palace, even though no one else was bidding and he could have had the Princess for £12.50, tops. The Emperor and his bride lived happily ever after, at least till the next Emperor Charter review. Fin.

Faustus said...

You know, I think this series has got legs!