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Dawn of the Dumb is a collection of Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn columns from the Guardian Newspaper.
I bought my copy in paperback from Fopp in Central London for £3, but it also widely available online.
The book is a collection of Brooker's viciously funny critiques of television shows and life in general. Ranging from the idiocy of Big Brother, which he finally destroyed with his Zombie thriller set in the Big Brother house on Channel 4, to an incident which actually causes an international stir when he upsets a number of Americans and receives Death Threats, this book is funny and never steps away from how ridiculous things really are.
Brooker reviews everything from the uncomfortable reality of what the Minipops really represented in the Seventies, to the brilliance of the Wire and the strange plotlines of 24 and Lost. He is always at his best when he viciously lampoons inadequacy and tomfoolery and he is a natural in this sense.
For me this book is at its best when it crosses boundaries, Brooker is a dark writer and he really builds a universe of feckless failure around his subjects which prove both hilarious and usually hit the mark really well.
If you like sarcasm, dry wit and biting satire, then this is a good book for you. The only negative I can give is that most of these columns date from 2006, 2007 so if you didn't see the programme it may not make sense and many other things are dated or possibly irrelevant nowadays, nonetheless its a very good read.
A hilarious collection of Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn collunm from the Guardian - this book is well worth getting if you enjoy dry wit, sarcasm and a good laugh on your morning commute. Once you pick up Dawn of the Dumb, I can promise you that you will find it hard to put down again. While, the different headings don't usually go into one another - being a weekly collunm - this doesn't stump your reading. His humor and look at society is something which we can all relate to, but still find amusing after reading what he has to say on the subject. Nothing is held back. Who knew a collection of random musings could be so funny (the Iranian bobsleigh team are mentioned along with a suicide machine, Apple Macs and an idea for a TV show called CSI: Jihad.
The second of a series of books, this follows on where Screen Burn left off, and is just as funny.
Dawn of the Dumb is a combined collection of Charlie Brooker's Guardian newspaper columns which focus on television programmes and a selection of articles covering anything and everything else that have been put together in book form. Now I'm not a Guardian reader and only discovered this book round about the time the Zombie serial 'Dead Set' was broadcast on E4.
Interest in the creator piqued I Googled him and discovered that he not only was a screenwriter but also a columnist and author. Amazon was naturally my next port of call and this is how I came to get hold of the book which is the focus of this review.
Released in 2007 this is a collection of acerbic and cutting articles covering for the most part television programmes and celebrity culture from 2004 to just before the books publication date. Brooker does not hold back with his thoughts on shows from Big Brother to TV Chefs, Doctor Who to Jeremy Kyle and just about anything that catches his eye or pops into his mind will end up on the receiving end of his caustic wit.
Always funny and often hilarious his way with words is direct and to the point, he doesn't believe in 'pussyfooting' around the issues that get on his nerves and he uses his skills as an author to share his thoughts with anyone who cares to read them. The only things that are required to fully appreciate this book is an open mind and a sense of humour and those people who don't have these two basic requirements will find that they are the focus of quite a few of his ramblings.
This book will suit anybody who has strong opinions on things, and as this review is going to be on a website where our opinions are wanted I feel this will suit a lot of fellow Dooyooers, although only the ones with a dry, sarcastic sense of humour though!
The only thing I would point out now is that some of the references and television programmes he covers in some of the articles are now obsolete or off the air, so what may have been a hilarious observation in 2005 might not seem quite as rib-tickling in 2010. Other more general rants are still as funny today as they were back then, but do bear this in mind if you are considering buying this new.
There is a brand new book out at the moment by Brooker that features more up to date articles, but I haven't read it yet, so can't comment on the new one. Although it's safe to say that once I have read it I will be reviewing it here!
If you like to have a bit of a moan to your other half about the state of what's on the television, or if the likes of Jeremy Kyle make you want to cut off your own ears then this is definitely the book to read as you will find yourself in good company. Everyone likes to have a moan and a groan at times; Charlie Brooker is the king of this and puts all other moaners to shame.
Available from Amazon at the bargain price of £4.50 and often available instore HMV for about £3.00 this is a book that you can pick up and down whenever you want to pass half an hour or so (its ideal for a read on the toilet!), definitely recommended by me and gets a well deserved 5/5 Dooyoo stars.
Thank you for reading.
In Dawn of the Dumb, Charlie Brooker makes it very clear that he is angry. About television, about celebrity culture, about politics, about your children and, frankly, about you. His anger is not remarkable in and of itself; every third blogger on the Internet is attempting to rail against the world for various reasons. Brooker's distinctive streak is that he is genuinely laugh out loud hilarious in the expression of his rage.
Dawn of the Dumb, a collection of Brooker's vicious Guardian column, distils his rage and scorn at humanity into a single volume so trenchant that it must be kept open at all times. If its covers were to be closed too tightly, it could collapse under the weight of its own compressed wit and suck your bookshelves into a black hole of rude words and pithy observations about contestants on Big Brother and The Apprentice.
Covering 2004 - 2007, the book moves in chronological order. That is the only order on display in the book, however. Brooker's column appears to have been put together from whatever stuck in his head on any given week (with, presumably, a smidgen of guidance from a Guardian editor) and, because it's much easier to write a witty column about things you don't like, he tends to focus on the bottom of the TV barrel. Reading the entire book, you start to build an idea of the (very few) things Charlie Brooker actually likes), but these tend to be inserted almost as filler: an almost embarrassed paragraph praising 2005's Doctor Who episode The Unquiet Dead, for example, after a solid two page rant about an X Factor contestant.
So, in some ways, this collection of column articles falls down. Although Brooker's style is always fresh, witty and entertaining, it's generally firmly in the context of current affairs and that week's bad television. If you've been lucky enough to avoid Big Brother, the Apprentice and X Factor over the years, you will be bemused. Even if you did watch them the chances are that time will have dimmed your recollections of Big Brother's Maxwell, among others. And the column's focus skips from week to week, so themes and running jokes are derailed. As a book, it meanders, bluntly.
Also, because the columns were written for weekly publication, things are recycled over the yeares that Dawn of the Dumb covers. Top of the list being the time Brooker inadvertantly became an international hate figure and target for death threats after appearing to call for the assassination of Dubya Bush.
But this repetition never becomes tedious, due to the sheer energy of Brooker's writing and his propensity for innovative insults. Dawn of the Dumb is effortlessly entertaining, and its serial format, with each column taking no more than two pages, makes it perfect for commuters. In other words, it's perfect toilet reading.
Brooker's ongoing fascination with Big Brother is also interesting, given that he would later go on to base his cult zombie drama Dead Set around the Big Brother house. When he first talks about becoming friends with mildly notorious contestant Aiselyne Hogan, you assume he's joking. But by the end of the volume, Booker, now firmly established as a TV ranter as well as a columnist, is partying with her in Glastonbury's VIP section. He has clearly become part of the culture he is so fond of mocking, but he's never been afraid to mock himself, and the his refusal to take any of it at all seriously means he has retained his credibility.
Dawn of the Dumb is sold at a recommended £9.99, but you can get it for a fiver from Amazon, and I managed to find it for £3 in HMV. It's rude, crude and hilarious, a perfect stocking filler for the sarcastic person in your life.
I've never really read anything by Charlie Brooker before, in fact I haven't really heard of him until I saw an episode of his recent TV series and I thought "Hmmm, he seems quite funny".
Then I saw this book in HMV for £3, and thought I'll give it a whirl. And I'm glad I did.
The structure of the book is very similar to Jeremy Clarkson's recent works, whereby it is more a collection of his articles than a book, but if like me you've never read his articles, then it is all fresh material.
Brooker, by trade as far as I can tell, is a TV critic. But not the usual TV critic, his reviews tend to rip programmes / actors / characters/ contestants apart and it owuld seem no one is safe.
The chapters alternate between his Tv column writing and some articles he has written on life in general (I prefer these as the TV related ones fetaure programmes from 2005-2007 and so are a little out of date now), but they both read in the same way and boil down to one fact - Charlie Brooker is incredibly miserable, hates pretty much everyone and everything, but is very very funny.
As i rapidly approach my 30's I tend to find myself agreeing with almost everything Brooker mentions, which must mean I'm destined to become a miserable old man, but I don't care because if I can be as funny as Mr Brooker whilst I'm moaning I still be able to make people smile, even when being negative - quite a skill!
Dawn of the Dumb is a great little read for when you have a few spare moments and you don't want to get too involved with a novel. You can pick this up, read a few articles, have a laugh and then put it down again.
*** Introduction ***
This book was recommended to me by my best mate and sister, both of whom share my slightly nasty sense of humour, so I was pretty confident I'd like it from the start. It's a collection of columns by the curmudgeonly Guardian writer Charlie Brooker, spanning his "Screen Burn" television reviews for the paper's Guide supplement and his regular entries for its G2 pull-out. Brooker dislikes most of the programmes and TV stars he comes across, and he's not afraid to let it show, often coming out with insulting comparisons, furious tirades and violent imagery.
Brooker's short, self-contained reviews, which are divided into 12 chapters presented in roughly chronological order, span the period 2004 to 2007. The TV columns are heavily biased towards reality TV (especially Big Brother) and US series such as The Wire, Lost and 24, but he also reviews family favourites like Doctor Who, daytime shows such as The Jeremy Kyle Show and the odd one-off documentary such as Inside Britan's Fattest Man or Animal Olympics. His non-TV-themed articles, or "Dispatches from the Idiotic Frontline", as the title page calls them, tackle all manner of topics from Facebook to Glastonbury to Gillian McKeith to London's congestion charge to Richard Dawkins, with a heavy slant towards modern media. You could say the main thrust of most of his non-TV writing is modern life and how rubbish it is.
*** The TV reviews ***
You don't have to have seen any of the TV shows to enjoy Brooker's writing - I was living abroad for most of the period covered and only knew about most of the shows from family and friends - but there is a lot of cross-referencing and comparison with other media, so if you watch absolutely no British TV and/or haven't lived there for a long time you might not get some of the jokes. Brooker seems to spend an enormous amount of time watching the latest shows then condensing them into a 1-2-page reviews packed full of witty observations.
He doesn't seem to like most of what he watches, but this only serves to make his reviews more fun to read. When he describes programmes he likes his writing is lively and infectious, but his tirades about on-screen junk are even more enjoyable, with their inventive insults and wacky descriptions. His most scathing remarks are reserved for Big Brother contestants and TV psychics - the latter even receive their own special Brooker-style treatment in the book's index. If you like his sense of humour, then the book also acts as list of recommendations for further viewing, as well as shows to avoid. If you don't, I imagine you'll soon tire of his toilet humor and grumpy persona.
*** The miscellaneous columns ***
These cover a wide range of topics. A few that stick out are the problems of Facebook, Brooker's indignation at companies' use of 'chummy language', his ingenious ideas for pulling a sickie to get a day off work, his hatred of football, his hatred of children, his hatred of internet debates, his hatred of hairdressers - you get the picture. In general I found these columns a bit more hit-and-miss than the TV reviews, with some of the more sci-fi or video game themed pieces going completely over my head. But his little vignettes about the problems we face in 21st Britain are certainly very observant and really well written.
Brooker goes to great lengths to paint himself as a misanthrope and lone wolf: he is very self-deprecating and thus openly admits he's a bit of a weirdo. He hates parties, hates people, hates small talk and doesn't see the point of friends or love. At times his rants and relentlessly scathing comments got a little too much for me. But thankfully there's the odd chink in his armour, such as when he becomes friends with a Big Brother contestant in real life or when he reluctantly goes to Glastonbury and - shock horror - starts to enjoy himself.
*** Conclusion ***
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and found it great for reading on public transport as each chapter is so short it is easy to dip in and out of as you please. The reviews made good reading in themselves, but I also came away with a long list of things I wanted to watch - in some cases only to see if they were really as bad as Brooker makes out! I found his use of language brilliantly creative and laugh-out-loud funny and was impressed by the way he clearly knows his stuff. I'm not sure many writers could carry off this misanthropic persona so effectively without becoming tiresome.
** This review also appears on ciao.co.uk under the same user name **
With a ruthless literary assault on almost anything you may expect Dawn Of The Dumb to be a rather pointless series of rants by the Guardian writer Charlie Brooker from his columns in the paper. Yet you would have assumed wrong as this fantastically hilarious collection of articles written by Brooker seethes away with critical bitterness that would put even the sharpest tongued of people to shame. Published as a collection of articles in 2007 the actual articles date back from November 2004 to July 2007 broken in to 12 individual chapters based around TV shows and other writing on a vast array of subjects (split pretty evenly into TV for 50% and other subjects for 50% of the book).
In recent years Brooker has started appearing on TV with shows like Screenwipe, Gameswipe and Newswipe on BBC4 all following in the same sort of vein as the viciousness of the book. Despite the almost rant-like tone Brooker portrays (in both the TV shows and his writing) it never becomes a swear-a-thon as many rants seem to, infact they are often incredibly clever rants full of graphically interesting descriptions and an agreeable tone laced with copious amounts of humour to soften the anger of the articles.
Due to the fact many of the columns were written quite a while back so many of the TV ones feel rather dated, especially the ones one reality TV shows that now are difficult to remember such as Big Brother from 2004 for example was a theme in the book that lead to several columns in the book, the views of Brooker changing with each successive one. The same applies to the ones on things like X factor as at the time of the columns he was writing the TV segment of the Guardian newspaper and often got to advise what was worth watching. It's fun to read these writings to see how things were on TV just a few years ago (it would seem they were just as poor are they are now, yes, almost 5 years later on TV is still diabolically poor on the whole).
The none TV based articles are just as fun though usually completely pointless rants about anything ranging from how having a cold "proves" that God cannot possible exist, to the usefulness of a suicide button that we should all be born with, even political policy's are mentioned (a way to cut out Smoking nationally). Even a rant about a study on Penis sizes finds it's way into the book as Brooker lets loose with an hilariously put together rant on the Sun newspaper's reporting style.
A compellingly addictive read from start to end that's wonderfully written with a dark humour underlining everything about it. The fact the book can be written in small chunks of an article a time (usually around 1 ½ A5 pages) as well as the much more lengthier chapters, it will almost certainly keep you captivated throughout the whole thing. Possibly even having you re-read it again after you've been through the entire anger once feeling that once just isn't enough to fill you with enough of Brooker's vile temper.
Although some may find the pointlessness of it all rather off putting whilst others will find the wide ranging targets of defenceless victims rather unfair and offensive it's not aimed at those easily offended. If you have a sense of humour, can accept a well worded insult and won't take things to heart too much you will really enjoy the vile tongued anger of Brooker. Of course if you'd rather avoid anger in your life and live like some sort of a hippy who just wants peace and live in the middle of nowhere then you should avoid this, as of course, it may raise your blood pressure to that of Brooker himself. Yes if you are easily offended stay away, despite the cleverly worded insults, a few naughty words do slip into the book throughout as well so it perhaps should be avoided for you lot.
Of course a lot of it is just the writers opinion, but that's one of the appealing factors, he almost seems like he's been given free reign to write what he wants, often seeming like it's uncensored and he's been allowed to really let lose, something most writers aren't allowed in the national press where agendas are to be followed. This is a prime example of how to write rants like they were supposed to be written with out them becoming diatribes that veer off into anarchy of written anger with no point at all to them. Brooker whilst his themes often seem uncorrelated does tend to keep to the same target for a full rant, and is exquisite at thinking of the right insult every time.
Overall a brilliant book show casing the best in sharp tongued rants and the most wondrous TV reviews available. Ian Hyland (the Suns TV writer) could only dream of having half the originality of Brooker, and sadly none of the other TV writers seem to even make a note worthy effort to match the bar Brooker was setting years ago.
Charlie Brooker is a "marmite" kind of guy. You'll either love what he does, or hate it - there's no real middle ground.
I think he is fantastic, and have loved his work since I first read his writings in PC Zone magazine back in the 90s. He assumes an air of satirical pessimism, but isn't really the depressed misanthrope his writings suggest - his occasional lapses into helpless laughter on You Have Been Watching reveal his mean exterior is an act he can't always sustain.
Having moved on from PC Zone magazine (who remarkably failed to fire him after one of his cartoons got an edition pulled off the shelves) he has been writing various websites and newspaper columns.
Like most of his other stuff, this book is choc full of bitter rants, fueled to a large extent by the abject horror that today's world of shallow celebrity and vacuous idiocy afflicts him with.
His scathing put downs, often based on his seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge if 80s TV, are legendary.
If you are easily offended, this book (and the rest of Charlie Brooker's work), is not for you.
To see if you'd like it, consider this quote:
'"Spirituality" is what cretins have in place of imagination. If you've ever described yourself as "quite spiritual", do civilisation a favour and punch yourself in the throat until you're incapable of speaking aloud ever again'
If that annoys you, don't read this book. If it makes you smile, you're gonna absolutely love it.
If you loved the Screen Burn book you'll love this one too.
You've all seen Screen wipe, right? If not I suggest you begin now where you will witness one of the best columnists and writers of this decade. The person I'm referring to is of course Charlie Brooker, writer of the critically acclaimed Screen Burn and the book this review is concerning - Dawn of the Dumb.
For those of you who don't know, Charlie Brooker is well known for his sharp witted nature, his pessimism and general profaneness. These qualities make him stand out from all the other writers out there. These features may not seem like qualities in everyday life but they sure are in writing.
Brooker loves a good moan like most Brits do and I believe this helps us to connect on a personal level with his columns. As I said before his humour is risqué and slightly over the top but it's his sheer inventiveness and brilliance that make him such an amusing author.
Phrases that he comes out with are hilarious. He uses similes but not in the familiar sense like 'her hair glistened like the sun'. He somehow manages to change them into derogatory phrases which have an entertaining aspect to it in a sort of twisted way. You may even try to incorporate some of his phrases into to your own life like me but just be careful who you say them to.
Essentially, this is just a hundred or so articles bunched together to create a book. Obviously, the book makes it more convenient then storing every newspaper that Charlie Brooker has ever featured in but it also enables a person to read all of Brooker's columns without having to purchase a single Guardian newspaper. Result.
The book is split up into sections. The first is his renowned Screen Burn columns that take a well-deserved position in the Guardian newspaper every week and then there are articles on the state of affairs at that time. The downside to this is that the articles were written from 2004 onwards which means I struggle to remember what some of the articles are about as I had just become a teenager at this time, and where I was prancing around in my room listening to rebellious punk music.
Another problem is if you don't remember what the content of the article is, there is no explanation because obviously at the time you would've just bought a newspaper which covered the factual events of the news.
However, as a television nut myself, I had no problem recollecting the events of television in the past 5 years which made my journey through the book much more enjoyable. He ridicules TV programmes such as Big Brother, I'm a Celebrity, X Factor, Jeremy Kyle, Derek Accorah and many more. Frankly, he rips them to shreds.
All in all, I would recommend this book to everyone if you aren't easily offended as this book contains a wide variety of swear words which feature on numerous occasions. I suggest you watch some of his clips on YouTube just to check whether or not you enjoy his offensive sense of humour. The book is quite similar to Harry Hill's TV Burp just ten times more offensive. If you like TV Burp then buy this book, as you're in for a highly amusing read.
Brooker is a famous antihero in the Guardian's line up of journalists. Starting his career as a computer game reviewer, he moved on to host his own website, 'TV Go Home,' which was a sort of comic parady of The Radio Times. From here he was snapped up by the Guardian, a slightly left-wing intellectual broadsheet as a TV critic and now, on a Saturday, he writes a TV review column and on Monday's he writes a series of general observation columns.
Thus this book is a mixture of both his general articles and his TV articles. He writes in a uniquely entertaining way; unafraid of being controversial and throwing in fantastic similes and metaphors often of a scatalogical nature. What's more, his misanthropic nature seems to hold a lot of insight into British society today but the tension and morbidity is made extremely readable by his wicked humour and zany lecturings.
This book doesn't quite work as well as his series of articles, as, like watching repeats of 'Have I got News For You' 3 years later on the Dave Channel, much of the topics are relevant to that week in the news. However, this is immensely entertaining to dip in and out of and, if reading as a whole, dangerously as close to starting a revolution as a comic look on the world can get.
Charlie Brooker is a very tough man to please. This collection of columns and TV reviews reveals the Guardian man to have a severe dislike for...well...pretty much anyone who gets in his way. Rarely have I laughed so loud or for so long - I felf a strong urge to punch the air with joy after reading some of the columns - especially ones about Lost or Big Brother. To say that Brooker has an acerbic wit would be doing a sever disservice acerbs. Whatever they are. He is sharp, funny, a complete smart arse and seems to have access to a swear word library that even Viz haven't discovered yet. If you've seen the brilliant new series of Screen Wipe on BBC4 you'll know what exactly what to expect. Those easily offended, stay away. Those seeking enlightenment through swearing and generally being Mr Grumpy Trousers, sign up right here.