Nathan Barley: old comedy turned out to be a documentary about our future






Fabulous, fantastic series. I’m sort of desperate for a DVD that will play in a North American DVD player.

Two tiny tidbits that might even push this show into “fantabulous” territory:

A. “Nathan Barley” is one of the first film credits for the internet’s own boyfriend, Benedict Cumberbatch.

B. Nathan Barley was part of the inspiration for Jimmy Olsen in Grant Morrison’s epic series All-Star Superman


Brilliant! I was surprised long before I’d seen it to find it dismissed in most corners, even amongst Morris and Brooker fans. Having spent the 90s amongst multimedia artists in one city, and the naughties in the music underground in another city, I instantly found Nathan Barley laugh-out-loud relateable. I think it cut too close for many of it’s viewers.

Also, I think I recall reading that the Black Mirror episode “The Waldo Moment” was an idea which was going to be used on Nathan Barley. It wasn’t well received as a Black Mirror episode either.

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Rad flick! Cool toons too! Loving the vibe!

On a serious note, doesn’t it make you pause and think about other generations of media and the reactions they have received?

I am willing to bet money that scoff was thrust at the bloggers and podcasters of our age at the dawn of the blogging and podcasting era, just like Times Magazine was scoffed at in 1923 by members of established Daily Telegraph, which in turn were mocked and taunted by other well-established European media outlets of the day of Daily’s birth.

The fact is, any new development in the media world is met with sarcasm and despise, until it may ultimately prevail and take over. (This applies to other areas of evolution as well.) Not all of them make it to the top but all of them receive the same welcome: all are seen as silly idiots wasting away mankind’s future, Idiocracy style.

I know, it is hard to tell which ones would make it and which one wouldn’t. However, wouldn’t you think it is kind of harsh to judge emerging ideas before they had a chance to stand the test of time? Remember, progress* won’t stop just because we think that our way of thinking and our business models deserve to remain. For proof, I suggest you see your local MPAA representative for tips on business model preservation.

The next generation is coming and there’s nothing we can do about it. It is going to be different, and we may not like it. The chances are we may perceive it as shallow, depraved and unethical. But so did the generations before us. It is just the way of life.

*Progress may or may not be actual advance of media intellectual level, but it is always the advance of whoever brings masses what masses what to know.

My God, this man is Boing Boing.

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That’s it £500 to the first person to lob a shoe at popobawa4u!

What sad is you see the Barleyism’s in 40+ year old middle managers in tech firms. They are not overly obnoxious but they latch on to the buzzwords, styles (pink shirts, pointy shoes) and in recent years have all become converts to the Church of Steve Jobs

I don’t think of Nathan Barley as a critique of new media, but rather I think of it as a critique of self-promotional gits. There is a level of immediacy to anybody with minimal resources being able to instantly distribute whatever they think conveys the zeitgeist, in hopes of creating a sensation. So there is the risk of it being used to spread “the now thing” at the expense of well-thought out communication of information.

The democratization of cheap and free tools for creating and distributing media has been revolutionary. But culturally, most of the people using these have been conditioned by the old broadcast media model - that an elite minority of people are rewarded for creating content to be consumed by the masses. So you can see an explosive proliferation of new bedroom musicians, yet an alarming number of them still appear to promote themselves as stars as if this is still an obscure activity. As well as lots of others with rudimentary skill who eagerly push their latest project out there for “fans” or in hopes to pimp themselves to the older world of established broadcast publishers and broadcasters (all of whom have been made irrelevant). For those accustomed to having the voices of the masses filtered through the biases of broadcasters and commercial interests, the signal-to-noise ratio of modern communication seems to have gotten much worse. Meanwhile, broadcast dinosaurs exploit these new channels of free content creation to sell back to the masses. And those who go out of their way to be exploited tend to make fools of themselves.

Um, I worked in shoredich, where this is set, when the show came out and I’ve got to say, it was pretty much bang on at the time it came out. From the characters, the web and the trendy mag stuff, to people literally riding around on kids bikes, this show was pretty much a documentary back then. It felt very relevant. Does that mean that this culture has spread the world from shoredich in the last 10 years?

It was contemporaneous as well as prophetic.

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