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8 January 1998 Edition

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Television: Protesting not enough

By Sean O'Donaile

Any Republican worth his/her salt, or James Connolly badge, should be well used to a lifetime of protest, dodging plastic bullets and batons from your friendly bobby, standing on white lines, roof tops and traffic islands, highlighting everything from the Ballymurphy Seven to Brits Out. Hence one might have a somewhat cynical approach to Channel 4's ``Smash It Up'' last Tuesday, which highlighted ten varying tales of protest.

Lily the Lollipop Lady was suspended from lollipop land for five months for associating with ``those layabouts'' with funny hair and dogs in their coat pockets, as they tried to prevent the demolition of Wanstead Green for yet another motorway. Obviously unused to such actions Lily nevertheless felt strongly enough about the issue to let the hairy people use her lollipop as a shovel to move earth in a bid to stop the digging, and was charged with ``bringing her uniform into disrepute''.

Ian Bone was a member of those famous revolutionaries `Class War', whose campaigns included ``String up the yuppies'' and ``hospitalise a copper week''. Ian was proud of the fact that on the Trafalgar Square Poll Tax riot, they only smashed up BMWs and Mercs and left Minis and Ladas alone - much of the chagrin of the Lada owner who could have done with the insurance money. Ian's dying wish would be ``to see Buckingham Palace in flames''. Class War has now been disbanded ``to reinvent the revolution''.

No one can deny the educational value of protest and such was the case for Betty Cook, a miner's wife who was batoned by police on the picket line during the strike of `84. Betty eventually became a feminist, went to university and left her hubby in his slippers, after realising her marriage of 30 years was ``not a proper life''. The gay rights activist featured was probably denied the right to marry, especially after he was charged with ``orally manipulating an erect penis'' by London's finest.

This programme made the error of not looking into these protests in any detail and the nearest we saw to an Irish protest was a 10 second clip of Cepta's half dozen. On the second day of Prince Charles treacly visit to Dublin, Cepta happened to come across some irate protesters and her children's tea was sacrificed for Ireland's greater glory. Somehow all the eggs managed to miss although to this day she can't recall why the sixth egg was never thrown - someone must have chickened out!

On Tonight with Vincent Browne, RTE - Sunday, Vincent cut through Bob Geldof's waffle like a scythe, accusing him of being ``in the heart of the Establishment''. Geldof strenuously denied this but described the Welfare State as ``unaffordable and inappropriate'' and the ``redistribution of wealth is not the answer''. He still feels ``my anger at the unfairness of it all'' - Cockaboloo. His political naivety was astounding or was it conservatism? - either way it was horsesh**. He left Ireland because the Government wouldn't give him eleven phones for a pop newspaper. He railed against the church-ridden Irish society, yet Browne pointed out how comfortable he felt in the hereditary monarchy of England.

His finest moment was appearing on Top of the Pops when he wore a tricolour on his jacket - oh you closet Provo you! There was no doubting his youthful anger, stemming from his mother's death and an uneven relationship with his father and he has produced some fine music. Unfortunately we've had to listen to his psycho-babble ever since, including his departing note that ``I'm a mass of contradiction in my fore conscience''!

If you're looking for some brain dead New Year's telly, UTV's Neighbours from Hell is for you. Fred and Siegfried live next door to each other in Putney and don't see eye to eye, especially as German Siegfried has built a ten foot Berlin style Wall to protect himself from Fred, who ``doesn't mind dealing with Germans on his package holidays as it's part of the deal'' but on home turf there'll be no ``f****g Nazi's'' getting one over on Fred, who was charged for marching outside Siegfried's garden with a Union Jack singing `land of Hope and Glory'. Fred protests his innocence and says if he's barmy ``then so is the Queen Mum''. Yes Fred.

Alan has taken offence to Gordana the muralist, who has painted giant sunflowers on her wall in Northern Green. ``Crikey,'' says Alan ``it's just not cricket'' - a day in West Belfast might sort Alan's head out.

Speaking of sad urbanites King of the Hill, Network 2, comes from the makers of Beavis and Butthead but is not quite as tasteless. Hank is a slob in a white vest, who drinks beer with his Bob and Rick, shoots off his .38 revolver at parties and doesn't like ``those darn hippies''. His wife has a bun in her hair and square glasses and prepares the dinner, while always polite. His son is an overweight Butthead who collects dead ants and burgers and his neighbours are the sort of people who tell you to ``get offa my property''.

This doesn't stop them from visiting Hank's garden parties where they sample his 183 varieties of beer and talk about the ``damn Commies'' and who's got the best lawn. Way to Go!

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
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