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Hello dolly

Posted by Sid Langley on Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I find myself in the foyer of my local multiplex cinema. A true man of my time, I have popcorn (from Sainsbury’s supermarket) in my plastic Bag for Life (Tesco) alongside the (Co-op) bottles of Sprite and the Dr Pepper chosen by my grandchildren on the way here.
 My posh and ridiculously expensive Italian fizzy water (Asda) is in my rucksack (Millets), just to emphasise the A/B status which I am still slightly self-conscious about acknowledging.
 This, I think, is madness.
 No, it’s Madness. One step beyond, as the tune by the wonderful Cockney music hall throwback band used to have it. A grandfather, I think, can only go so far. And this is really going that extra mile. No, not mile, but sweaty, gut-wrenching, endurance-testing marathon. For we are here to see the new Bratz movie.
 I happily went with the kids and their mother to Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena NIA earlier this year to see the live show based on the wildly-popular dolls. The professional critic in me was curious as to how they were going to translate to the stage the cartoon antics of the BFFs (that’s Best Friends Forever, their trademark slogan, in case you don’t know).
 For such a world-conquering marketing phenomenon, I was surprised at how many tricks they had missed to move merchandise – no Bratz dolls on sale, for instance, which I would have thought was a bit basic. But, then I don’t know what licensing arrangements with how many production and promotion companies have to be in place to take a project like Bratz on tour.
 The show itself featured real live people (well, stage school graduates, anyway) who danced and mimed the songs in the street jazz style expected by those Dance X type television shows. Polished, professional and loved by the young audience. The plot and characterisations were no worse than many similar shows – the Disney moneyspinner High School Musical, for instance, a crassly-obvious hybrid of the Romeo and Juliet story and Grease.
 The kids have virtually worn out the DVD of HSM, as it’s now known by devotees worldwide, so when the chance came to see it live, I happily took Jessica and Rebecca to Warwick’s Dream Theatre a couple of weeks back where the Playbox youth theatre group staged a characteristically energetic and enthusiastic production. The Bratz show at the NIA was slicker and had infinitely better sound, but the Playbox production was great fun, joyous and genuinely heartwarming.
 There is a big debate to be had about how these entertainment brands impact on young people in a world where marketing and spin are everything. Bratz masterminds Mattel have been condemned for peddling hooker fashions to pre-pubescent girls while Disney has been widely applauded for the “let’s all love one another” ethos of HSM.
 I take a very practical view as someone who comes in for a pretty hefty rota of childcare duties. Anything that keeps our bratz quiet for more than an hour and doesn’t encourage them to decimate the rainforest or go to war occupies the moral high ground as far as I am concerned.
 But, and here’s the problem I faced in that multiplex moment, there was no way I wanted to sit through that Bratz movie. Now I’ve been on lots of management courses in my time, and I know how to turn a problem into an opportunity. So here, I told our girls, is the chance for you to go to the cinema on your own for the very first time. I’ll be sitting right outside if you need anything. As it happened there were only three other kids at the morning showing.
 You can’t sit in a cinema foyer playing a banjo (I seriously thought about it) so I sat in an armchair outside screen five and got stuck into the latest Harry Potter.

2 comments on “Hello dolly”

u k sandra Says:
Tuesday, September 11, 2007 @5:31:53 PM

You`re a saint, Sid. I`ve just had my twelve year old grand-daughter staying for a week and by the time she went home I was like a wrung out dishcloth. If I never see the Metro Centre and Clairs again, it will be far too soon. I love my grand kids to bits but they live two hundred miles away and sometimes I`m thankfull ( not always but often ).

Christine Says:
Tuesday, September 11, 2007 @10:31:46 PM

Hey Sid, I agree with UK Sandra... you area a saint... haven't been to a cinema for a couple years, don't have kids, the two men are plenty! My God Children however... one is a diva the other a deep thinker. Silvi the thinker is the older and loves the challenge of writing. Annelii the younger is the diva. If she can't be a stage and screen star she wants to be an archeologist. Neither have the passion for a banjo but I have to hand it to Silvi, she has tried many instruments finally settling on teh bass guitar. I am hoping this year we will be playing Christmas tunes together. She lives a bit far to visit more regular... the Diva I have just put onto Time team to watch... now I think she is changing her mind about digging things up...htere is still hope to change her over to a banjo player! :)

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