Cultural Review: March Madness and Beyond

Here comes my round-up of the new and recent culture that has caught my eye. With a bit of a mental-health slant (well, sort-of). Here are a few of my picks of recent weeks, enjoy!

The Apprentice

Last week saw the return of the nation’s favourite display of arrogance and narcissism and general meanness. Another group of entrepreneurs brutally fight it out to go into business with Sir Alan Sugar. Cue bitchy back-stabbing and stitching-up, compulsive car-crash viewing. Watching this always reminds me of the Board & Fritzon paper on high levels of personality disordered traits (psychopathy, OCD, narcissism) in business managers. Wednesday at 9.00 on BBC1.

The Master and Margarita at the Barbican

I’ve been excited about this one for a while. Bulgakov’s classic of black magic, decadence and insanity on the streets of Moscow, is this month brought to the London theatre. The book, which inspired Mick Jagger to write ‘Sympathy for the Devil‘, features naked, flying witches, a talking cat and a rather brutal decapitation, so I’m very curious as to how they will bring this to the stage. Rather like an grown-up Alice in Wonderland, this surreal and often very bizarre tale tells of how the devil comes to Russia, and sooner or later everyone is losing their heads (some literally).

50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

I decided to read this book after hearing all the fuss about it. Baring in mind I have neither read Twilight, nor am familiar with fan-fic (aside from a time about aged 15, when my all-girls school had a bit of a craze for Harry Potter slash, passed around at the back of the classroom), I can’t really comment on the book’s relating to either. There are no vampires in this one, but stars an emotionally aloof playboy love-object who bewitches our rather personality-less virginal heroine. She wants him, he wants her, but on the condition that she enter his kinky world of BDSM. If you’re looking for a good bit of book-porn, you might be disappointed. The sex scenes are actually remarkably short and simplistic, there’s a lot more time given to a rather twee and trite love-story. High-class erotica this also isn’t; there’s rather a lot of cliched phrases like ‘come for me baby!‘ and our heroine is always saying things to herself like ‘Holy cow!‘ when she sees her beau take off his shirt. It is rather silly but enjoyable in that way. There’s quite a bit of speculation about how Christian must have had an awful past to develop his ‘need’ for domination, which I found a little unconvincing. Apparently there are 2 more books to come, not sure if I’ll bother.

Mad Men

Ah advertising, one of the greatest abuses of psychology to date. Don Draper and Co return today for more whiskey in the morning, casual adultery, sexism and sharp dressing.   I’m hoping there’ll be a bit more of a focus on little Sally Draper, child of the Draper’s broken marriage, carted off to therapy in previous series by her neurotic mother. Undoubtedly smarter than she is disturbed, Sally seems to work people out. And she mixes a good cocktail.

Korn

My favourite daddy-hating, adidas-wearing nu-metallers are on tour this week. There can be something very therapeutic about screaming ‘Shut up! Shut up! Shut up, I’ll f**k you up!’ at the top of your lungs. There’s no-doubt to be some coverage of tracks from their marmitey dub-step album, produced with Skrillex. If you prefer something with a little more depth, prog-metal superstars Tool just announced their releasing a new album.

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