Stephen Fry

Discussion of various public figures

Stephen Fry

Postby Gavin » 23 Oct 2011, 00:43

I happened to catch some of a BBC television programme the other day in which the liberal Saint Stephen of Fry, he who can do no wrong in the eyes of, apparently, anyone, was gleefully endorsing the use of profane language.

This is the same Fry who affects a coy bashfulness and shyness, yet is never off our screens. See a fine critique of him here.

Fry was joined in his adolescent celebration of vulgarity by Stephen Pinker, a person who, like Fry, seems to be benefitting from the argument from authority of late.

As we know, TD has been critical of Pinker recently. It seems to me that Fry stands for much that TD opposes. I used to find Fry quite amusing when I was about 15, but I am these days finding him quite tiresome, and not only because of his ubiquity, I regret to say. I wonder what impression others have of him (please put it more decently than he would).
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Rachel » 24 Oct 2011, 22:45

Well, I don't live in the UK so I don't see his overexposure.

One problem is that Fry is the BBC's idea of an intellectual - they don't really have anyone else - do they(?)

He's the one they trot out when they are forced to make something not too dumbed down in order to comply with their their charter.

In the past you had a proper number of intellectual people on TV - not just Stephen Fry - and they would host the factual programs rather than celebrities or good looking presenters. In those days things like age, knowledge and experience were treasured more than looks and fame.
For example in the 70's-80's you had Patrick Moore presenting the program "The Sky at Night" because he was an expert in astronomy. I don't think someone who looked like him would get a TV job now, even though he was excellent for the job.

There was Kenneth Williams (yes he was a comedy actor but he was highly intelligent and literate in interviews), Art Historian Lord Clark who presented the TV program "Civilisation"...there were probably loads more that I have forgotton.

Stephen Fry seems to be the BBC's only old timer intellectual so he's trotted out too much.

Yes he does use bad language a lot. I agree with you on that point.

I like Stephen Fry - first because I haven't seen him much since my childhood- I am living in Israel now and secondly because they showed his Manic Depression documentary here which I liked.


I don't know if he really stands for everything TD opposes because I have no idea of his political views. Personally I think Polly Toynbee or some top BBC people are worse.
He does admit in his biography of childhood that Grammer schools weren't all bad having used one himself.
He also attacked the lack of intelligence in TV nowadays in a lecture
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... mming.html
even though he has made a few dumbed down programs himself alongside the good ones.
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Mike » 25 Oct 2011, 22:08

Tiresome is exactly the word for him. He's all over the TV in Australia at the moment as well, usually fronting some frothy Melvyn Bragg-esque documentary or other. It's not so much his political or social views that bother me as his painfully obvious and hypocritical self-promotion as the last of the great British eccentrics. In the words of Hannibal Lecter, "tedious...very tedious."
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Damo » 30 Oct 2011, 20:20

Hi Rachel, just to let you know, the excellent program The Sky at Night is still running.
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Laurence » 17 Nov 2011, 12:12

Hallo. I haven't been on this forum for a while. but I would just like to say I find Stephen Fry one of the most irritating, smug and tiresome media 'celebs' around at the moment. In his case it is all the worse as he has the intelligence and education to be able to think independently and not to go along with the liberal-left 'default' view of the world - but clearly he chooses not to as its in his interests to conform. This is a common problem with people of his type - on some level they are surely aware of the shallowness and in some cases downright dishonesty of their position, but they also know which side their bread is buttered on - imagine what would happen if he experienced a 'conversion' to some form of conservatism: his career would collapse and he would be reviled by all his important friends and not invited to dinner parties any more!
I used to find him mildly entertaoining years ago. before he became so self-important, but now I see him as one of the many poisonous figures who maintain the current self-deceptive world view of those who rule out society, and I avoid him like the plague.
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Gavin » 17 Nov 2011, 12:55

Great post, Laurence, I couldn't agree with you more.

Just today David Starkey is in the news again. I have a lot more respect for him as he says what he no doubt really believes. He is lambasted by the PC institutions. Meanwhile, actual people across the country agree with him since they can see that what he is saying is actually true.

It makes you wonder how long the PC façade can go on. As long as the BBC has such influence, I guess.
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Andrea » 17 Nov 2011, 14:53

I have loathed Stephen Fry for a couple of years now, as I find him utterly decadent (which he no doubt enjoys to be called) and a very bad example to people - young and old.
The UK is saturated with him. I go to the London Library site, and they are talking about him. I look up at passing billboards, and his smug face is on it. I look under my cranberry juice glass at the pub and his face is on the coaster. You turn on the tv - and he's there on some quiz show or other. Then he had to ruin Horrible Histories by being the host. He was in that horrid V for Vendetta film (as a monarchist and a historian, I simply cannot abide the thought of anyone blowing up the Houses of Parliament!). I thoroughly agree with Laurence. I was listening to the radio and he was on the BBC, so I switched to Classic FM and they were talking about him. He is a godlike figure in the UK. He is foul-mouthed and he and his minions ridicule people like myself who do not use expletives (yes, his fans really did personally insult me via various websites two years ago). I do not find him funny as I find his humour highly immature.

I believe the wise Peter Hitchens said of him, "He is a stupid person's version of an intelligent man." I couldn't agree more.
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Laurence » 17 Nov 2011, 21:10

I would like to second Damo's post and assure Rachel that The Sky of Night is definitely still going (you can probably find it somewhere online) and it is still presented by the amazing Sir Patrick Moore, at the age of 88! He is physically not in very good shape, but by God he is still all there mentally! I watch it every month not only because I am interested in astronomy but also to reassure myself that there are still intelligent programmes presented by normal human beings on the BBC. Mind you - The Sky at Night is probably one of the last of them, sad to say.
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Gavin » 25 Nov 2011, 22:23

I noticed recently that there's also a Sky at Night magazine available. It has 4,589 followers on Twitter, while Mr Fry has 3,434,101. I think the phenomena of both Twitter and Facebook merit their own discussions really. When time permits.

He really is absolutely everywhere now. He presented a programme about telephones on Radio 4 recently, one before that, and he's even doing the voiceover for Kate Bush's new album. She declared: "I'm a big fan of Stephen Fry. I think he's incredibly intelligent." She fell in my estimation at that moment.
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Elliott » 18 Feb 2012, 00:18

I know it's been a while since this thread started but I have to comment on Fry.

I honestly think he is a waste of space. Alright, he's not as much of a cretin as Russell Brand, or as nasty as Ricky Gervais, or as tedious as Jonathan Ross, but he brings his own brand of stupidity to the table.

For a start, it doesn't even do what it says on the tin. Everyone says Fry is an intellectual - when did you ever hear him say something intelligent, that he'd come up with himself? I'm sure he's been known to do it, but I honestly can't think of a single example.

He says things which some people will consider heavy-weight, but which are actually just banal. I saw him on some documentary a year or two ago, gazing out over a vast rainforest. Struggling for profundity (taking a break from profanity), he said:
Everything beautiful is created by Nature. Everything ugly is created by Man.
Because of the sheer scope of that statement, I think people will give in and assume it must be true. But it isn't true. It's complete tripe. Anyone could reel off countless examples of beautiful things created by Man and ugly things created by Nature. As for the statement itself, it surrenders all intellectual responsibility to a sub-Rousseauan idea that society (and I think we can safely assume that Fry was not thinking of Indian, Chinese or African "Man") is evil and should be dismantled. Of course, if such were ever to happen, Fry would be the first aboard the plane to more civilised climes, where he would have adoring middle-class lads to listen to him spouting GK Chesterton.

The man is a fraud.

I will give him credit for being a vast store of information and knowledge. (This is assuming he isn't just being drip-fed by researchers on QI.) But it is a big mistake to assume that means he is some kind of thinker. He isn't.

I actually read his novel The Hippopotamus when I was 13. Even then I could tell I'd been had. All the way through, the tone is of smug, assumed superiority, with never so much as a sentence lending weight to this assumption. Badly-drawn characters. Long sentences that say nothing. Chapters where people just meander. A plot that doesn't reflect on anything or anyone. I finished the novel and wondered "what was the point of that?"

Fry is a perfect exemplar of a cultural elite that has sold Britain out. When he recommends swearing, he is merely carrying on a tradition of well-bred charlatans stretching back as far as his idol: Oscar Wilde.
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Gavin » 18 Feb 2012, 15:41

You won't find any argument from me on those points, Elliott. I'm afraid the best description of Fry really is that one "The stupid person's idea of an intelligent person". I am pleased you mentioned Gervais and the other vulgarians too.

The Office, while quite funny, really ushered in the period of laughing at people, vindictively, didn't it? We could laugh because we knew Gervais was acting, and the target of his ridicule was himself (and others in real life like his character), but still it was a cruel, cringeworthy kind of humour. Now we can see just how nasty Gervais really is, since his Golden Globe appearances and other efforts.

When I visit London (which I am doing now, actually - I write from a hotel near the Tower of London) I now visit the "touristy" places. I see London through the eyes of these tourists. They go to the Tower, Piccadilly Circus etc, all Zone 1 areas, and to a large extent they probably wonder what all the fuss is about. London is a lovely place, they think. Anyway, I even went on one of these coach tours, to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle etc. (Like you, Elliott, for the previous 15 years I hardly ever did these things despite living in London - this seems to be sadly common to residents of many cities.) The tour guide was a man in his 30s who dressed in a long black coat and a bowler hat. He was very good, he told the tourists about the historical things they wanted to know about (nothing about current society!). But, he surprised me by making the point (and now I come back to my point) that Ricky Gervais is not a nice person. He seemed to really want them to know that! Maybe he'll do the same re. Fry in the future - Brand is hopefully doing a good enough job of discrediting himself..
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Elliott » 18 Feb 2012, 19:58

Gavin wrote:I'm afraid the best description of Fry really is that one "The stupid person's idea of an intelligent person".
Yes, agreed.

The Office, while quite funny, really ushered in the period of laughing at people, vindictively, didn't it? We could laugh because we knew Gervais was acting, and the target of his ridicule was himself (and others in real life like his character), but still it was a cruel, cringeworthy kind of humour. Now we can see just how nasty Gervais really is, since his Golden Globe appearances and other efforts.
Well I don't want to derail the thread too much, but... I have always (from the very start of his fame) hated Ricky Gervais. I was always amazed that people were idolising and admiring him. Could they not see he was a nasty piece of work? Did his insincerity not scream out at them? Was it not obvious from his abymsal "acting" in other things, that he wasn't even acting David Brent, that that is exactly who he is?

As for The Office, I can see that there is talent in it (even though it's not my kind of thing) but I think it did some damage to British television. Suddenly everything had to be like The Office which meant a mixture of being understated to the point of vacuity (lots of people mumbling and looking at the floor etc.) and really obvious stuff (like the will they won't they flirting between these two) which amounts to no more than what you see on the screen. Basically, shallowness pretending to be weighty.

When I visit London (which I am doing now, actually - I write from a hotel near the Tower of London) I now visit the "touristy" places. I see London through the eyes of these tourists.
That sounds rather postmodern! A stranger in the city you lived in for 15 years, learning about it through the eyes of newcomers? I think that would be very interesting, if a bit surreal.

The tour guide was a man in his 30s who dressed in a long black coat and a bowler hat... he surprised me by making the point... that Ricky Gervais is not a nice person. He seemed to really want them to know that!
He sounds like my kind of tour guide!
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Tomasz » 28 Feb 2012, 16:08

From my Polish point of view, Fry is genuine exemple far-left extremist posing as highly educated but in fact, without basic historical knowledge. Moderator this sitein his welcome post noticed, very accurately, that we - Poles,are often "scapegoats" in today Britain. Unfortunately not only in Britain and not only today times.
In 2009 Fry stated:
"There has been a history, let's face it, in Poland of a right-wing Catholicism which has been deeply disturbing for those of us who know a little history, and remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on and know the stories, and know much of the anti-semitic, and homophobic and nationalistic elements in countries like Poland."

Person, who accuses Poland, one on the most suffering countries in WWII, for being guilty Holocaust, can't be consider as intelectual or truly intelligent. In one phrase we have everything: Polonophobia, anti-Catholic propaganda and put all this together to one bag with "right" parties and Holocaust. After protests from Polish Embassy he offer apologise. But his awful words has been said during TV interview in popular station (probably milions could hear), and his "sorry" was stated on his blog(a few thousand could read).
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Caleb » 01 Mar 2012, 00:56

Tomasz: I'm sorry, but you're wrong on this one. In occupied Europe (or Axis countries) during WW2, only two nations resisted the Holocaust and saved their Jews: Denmark and Bulgaria. The rest of Europe to varying degrees gleefully participated in the Holocaust or went along with it.

In fact, it wasn't just Europe. The rest of the world, including my country, should be ashamed of the Evian Conference. The Bermuda Conference wasn't too flash either.

It is not logically impossible that Poland suffered under the Nazis (and Communists) but also participated in the suffering of others during the Holocaust.
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Re: Stephen Fry

Postby Tomasz » 01 Mar 2012, 09:08

Denmark, during WWII was almost independent country, with King, governement and only minimum German presence.
Bulgaria was independent country, and could do with Jewish population, what they want.

Poland was fully occupied country, with level od everyday german terror, difficult to imagine fo peoples in West countries. 3 my grand-grand fathers was murdered in this war. All them are buried in unnamed placesnot known to family. All where ethnic Poles. So how You can accuse my nation as being guilty Holocaust - projected by Germans and made by Germans, is secret. On ofe explenations of this secret is poor knowledge about history WWII in Central and East Europe - something very common in West.
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