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Back handed compliments

When the glittering showbiz bus rolls in to our wee town, it’s easy to get carried away with the attention and take it for granted that all publicity is good publicity.

But is it sometimes wiser to say no – or should you forget any qualms and just think of the kerching!?

When Gillies MacKinnon made his good, funny and gritty 1996 film about sectarianism, gangs and family in Glasgow, it was released under the title Small Faces – which was a good name. (Review here.) It was originally going to be called Easterhouse – after the intimidating scheme (or high rise complex) of the same name. But local representatives complained that it could blight the area – whether or not the portrayal was accurate – and successfully lobbied for the name change.

Small Faces: "You are now entering Tong Land."

So when Rihanna brought the global entertainment spotlight to bear on Northern Ireland, it was funny. I’m thinking of her topless run-in with a County Down (as in Down with this sort of thing) DUP councillor and farmer. But it was also unfortunate in another way.

Sure – what a compliment that she chose the New Lodge in north Belfast in which to film her We Found Love video. Fun. Excitement.

But what was that chorus again? We found love in a hopeless place…

Ah right. The hopeless place being Belfast Continue reading

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