Media Witchcraft

The National Media Museum in Bradford is an odd place. All shiny and new, it has some genuinely interesting exhibits about how TV works, with a blue screen area for you to film you and your friends, if you have any, walking with dinosaurs, jumping out of planes and then just reading the news if you have no capacity to expand your imagination by more than a simple stretch. Frankly if someone gave me a blue screen to play with then I would delving into all sorts of incredible situations, fighting bears, walking round ancient Rome, flying in space, not sitting next to Riz Lateef and commenting on MP’s expenses. There’s also some cameras to hold and operate, really old telly’s and radios as well as whole areas on how TV started and what the process behind it is. All this seems well and good and probably what a museum about media might have in it, but then you accidentally stumble across the weird stuff. All museum’s have a weird stuff bit. The Natural History museum has that top floor, that I assume is still there, but I have been too terrified to visit it for years. Its just full of stuffed animals and weird curios that you would expect to find in the lobby of a killer from a Hitchcock film. There’s never anybody there apart from a few (I suspect they are) lecturers of taxidermy or something as odd, and some people with overly worrying facial hair to like to stare at stuffed animals. Its one of those places that when the Natural History Museum closes at night they leave that bit open for creepy people to wander round and point at dead squirrels. In the media museum they have two of these weird bits. The first is part of the BBC. A whole radio and partly TV studio with working people actually in it, as an exhibit. This isn’t creepy odd, but I can’t believe that they are cost cutting to the extent that they now need revenue from museum goers to keep radio Bradford going. The thing is the staff aren’t even that old. At least make them old staff so they look more museumy. Instead they just get on with their work while kids point and stare at them. I don’t know if I could work like it. Although Comedy 4 Kids is almost the same, I’d equate those BBC staff with the monkeys at the zoo. I only hope that when they get really irritated with onlookers that they also throw their own shit at them.

The other bit that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the place is a section that revolves around how your eye sees things. While I suppose media is a lot about seeing things, unless of course its radio, or you’re blind, this would have been better suited to a Science Museum or even a Specsavers based in Pleasure Island. It was really spooky, with everything designed like the weird fortune teller booth in Big. I experimented with looking at myself in thermal vision, which is how Predator can see people, and also capturing my shadow which gave my five minutes of worrying if I would ever get it back and what sort of life a shadowless one is. Probably quite good until you really want to make a picture of a rabbit with your hands against a wall. The one bit that petrified me though was a window called ‘Which Witch?’ where you had to line your face to in line with the red lights then press a button. I did this, there was a flash and then suddenly an illuminated witch’s head appears and cackles at you. I leapt about 4 ft in the air. This had nothing to do with how the eyes and brain work in any scientific sense, other than an experiment in shitting yourself. I could only assume that at some point while making the museum the designers said, ‘fuck this, let’s just petrify some kids and an adult with a mind like a child’. If that was their intention then well done to them. Lets just hope the trend doesn’t spread to other museums until mummies at the British Museum come alive or someone gets blown up on top of a bus at the London Transport Museum. Instead I think the National Media Museum should get rid of that section and put info about ancient media up. I wanted to see a ‘ye Olde Daily Mail’ from the 15th century with a half naked Anne Boleyn on it and a headline saying ‘Orf With Her Top’ or something similar.

I left after that terrifying experience and went to see Up which is amazing. Even made me man cry twice. Man crying is like normal crying only far more embarrasing. There were only 6 other people in the cinema with me: two people in wheelchairs, two kids and two mums. I spent 10 minutes during the trailers thinking about how, if I had to, I could take all of them. I often delve into these thoughts. I went to about four Ninjitsu classes with a friend when I was 16. I only managed four as the fourth time involved a game where I had to block the instructor from slapping me in the face. I failed on all accounts and had red cheeks and forehead for weeks. However, during this brief time I learnt 3 moves that will never forget and all of them involve violence. I’m fairly sure that if I even intended to use one on someone, I’d be trying to remember the exact mechanics of such moves while I was deftly knocked out or stabbed. Anyway I still like to indulge the thought that I am small and dangerous and knowing I was potentially the toughest person in the cinema pleased me a lot. Then I saw the film which was really good but very sad, and felt all vulnerable. Meanwhile the mums just picked up their kids and left all cheery. I’m so weak. Destroyed by animation and fake witches, I really need to reasses my life.

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