What does it take to be controversial?

What does it take for a book, piece of art or a film to be truly controversial?

I suppose it depends on what you think controversial actually means. Take the movie Antichrist by Lars Von Trier. IMHO he could rename himself Lars Von Try Hard as the controversial elements that got it all the PR were totally gratuitous, sexual and violent, whereas the movie itself and the story… well, there are some other much better movies about crazy women around. Even something old like Misery by Stephen King beats Antichrist quite comfortably for pure story and engagement.

Philip Pullman was in the papers recently-ish after deciding to rewrite the New Testament. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/6601512/Atheist-author-Philip-Pullman-writes-alternative-ending-for-Jesus-in-Bible.html

And of course religion is always controversial, for obvious reasons, and ponderously written as it is, I still can’t think of much more successfully controversial than Dan Brown’s The da vinci code, which works because the controversial elements are the very centrepiece of the story.

Modern Art seems to take the Lars Von Trier approach – be controversial by shocking people and thinking of gimmicks. What amazes me there is how little quality actually seems to matter. I am pretty sure Tracy Emin would be one of the first people to admit that she is not a very talented artist technically, but that she has a world class talent for self promotion. I’m sure students spend as much time thinking of some sort of PR angle as they ever do actually learning their craft. An absolutely hilarious angle on that is an episode of Nathan Barley, featuring the artist 15peter20 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LP5-AjCCNw check it out here! If you have never seen Nathan Barley, please have a look, it’s one of many Chris Morris controversial pieces where the whole idea of controversy… ie dealing with a sacred cow of society is done by leading the poor animal gently into the light as opposed to the more usual art and movie approach of crassly shoving the dumb beast arse first into media mayhem.

Naturally I am hoping my own scribbles, which have been called controversial by a few, have a little more poignancy and subtlety than most… http://www.rexrichards.com

But, having said that, in my book, Shakespeare’s Truth, Prince William, the heir to the throne, meets a grisly end on about page 3… which I would have thought was pretty controversial! But most people don’t seem to care about that at all, somewhat controversially 🙂 they are more interested in the proof that Shakespeare could barely write his own name let alone a play!




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Who really wrote William Shakespeare’s plays?

It’s a beautiful sunny morning and I’m feeling lucky to be alive and very thankful for everything I have, which above all is a degree of control over my own destiny… something most of us do have. It reminded me of how lucky we are in the modern world, especially in Europe and the developed world.

Not long ago I was working doing charity work in Guatemala for people who had no control over their lives above and beyond relying on hideously badly paid manual labour in coffee plantations owned by the likes of Nescafe.

Back in the sixteenth century, there was a man who, although incredibly privileged and from a position of high birth, had absolutely no control over his real destiny, even less so than the coffee workers of guatemala, but who chose to express his frustrations in the most indelibly poetic way imaginable; by writing amazing plays such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth and many more. That man was forced to find someone to hide behind, a stooge who could protect his identity. The stooge was, of course, William Shakespeare. We’ve all grown up thinking that Shakespeare was a genius playwright and poet, but he was in fact a moderate actor and reasonable corn trader, who through very specific reasons, was chosen by the true author to be the front man for the plays.

If that interests you at all, you might consider going to my website www.rexrichards.com and downloading the sample of my new book Shakespeare’s Truth which goes through who really wrote the plays, as well as a whole pile of other things, in the context of an easy to read and fun thriller. I would really value your opinion.

Something to enjoy in the occasional blasts of sultry winter sun? 🙂


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New book about to happen

Publishing a book… a tricky area! But when you are passionate about something and just have to do it… you realise you have no choice but to deal with it and try and make it happen, and above all create something that you hope people will enjoy.

The book is a thriller, a bit like the da vinci code or a dan brown book but the subject material is the Royal Family and William Shakespeare. Have look at it here.

So, next week I’ll be going over the final bits n pieces related to the publication of my first book, Shakespeare’s Truth,  which I am paying for myself and with the incredible help of Barbara the marketing genius and Michelle the PR guru. Then on the 11th of November, the book will go live on amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shakespeares-Truth-Rex-Richards/dp/0956234003/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257076250&sr=8-5

The idea of competing against big publishing houses feels a bit like David and Goliath… and I hope our new little book is our equivalent of a stone in the sling… I believe it is.

Luckily we’ve already had a good review in, from the BBC news legend John Simpson CBE, who has said it’s better than dan brown’s da vinci code, which is just great. I hope such high praise is deserved!

I’ll be using this blog to share thoughts that I hope will help other people thinking about publishing their own book as well as sharing thoughts about life. I did an awful lot of research into the whole area of self publishing, Print on Demand (POD), how to write a book and plot it out, as well as many other areas.  So next time, I’ll start with the area of plotting a book.

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MPs expenses – who else should we have a go at? Footballers? Doctors and nurses?

Such a weird thing – every MP in the world knows a good part of the job is the chance to stick your nose in the trough and make money, after all, you need to be ambitious and fairly ego-maniacal to even run for a seat in your local constituency, let alone be an MP.

In my new book, Breaking News, I am extremely rude about MPs, and the media in general.

But what I’m interested in – is who is next? Who should the dirt be dug up on? In a way it would be even more obscene to see a footballer earning £2million a year claiming for porn on expenses than a MPs frustrated husband. Or what about company bosses? Years ago, I went to barcelona with a big advertising agency pitching for work with a cinema chain. We ended up with the cinema company taking us to a brothel, getting absolutely wasted, and charging it as an expense. I was far too much of a scredy cat to go all the way with the goods on offer, but ultimately, probably about 100,000 cinema tickets had to be sold to well meaning families off to see Bolt just to pay for that one weekend.

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Ban the news, it’s too depressing

In England we’re all snowed in. Which is great inasmuch as it means that the news organisatons from the BBC, ITN, all the way down to the Metro, Sun, Mirror etc are deflected away from doing their best to tell us the world is ending and the economy is melting down into some sort of toxic credit puddle.

I used to work in news, my first ever job was on BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, and I lasted a week before I quit. News is horrible, it is quite literally full of people taking savage joy from finding the most miserable examples of human existence all over the world and presenting it as if it’s a good thing we all need to know.

So while I was happy the snow stopped the continual doom and gloom from the misery makers, I was genuinely fed up to realise it only took one day for them to get back on course with a story about some poor kid who died in a sledging accident.

Why does this tragedy have to be the most important thing we learn about when we wake up??? It’s crazy. Really, genuinely mad.

News should be optional.  Imagine a world without news, would we really suffer? We could just have nice magazines about things, not foul angry messages of murder and mutilation from the four corners of the world with our cup of morning tea.

Of course we need to keep an eye on the interest rates and who is being elected for things that affect our day to day lives, but that’s enough.  Why does a family tragedy warrant being shoved down our throats.

Of course some of us MIGHT be interested in the fact that somebody has murdered someone thousands of miles away – or that a plane has crashed, or the outlook is gloomy and we’re all going to be miserable. But why not just give us the choice?


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