Alas, the great Alan Partridge never got to make Inner-City Sumo, despite his famously desperate pitch to BBC TV commissioners. ‘We take fat people from the inner cities, put them in big nappies, and then get them to throw each other out of a circle… If you don’t do it, Sky will.’ Nor did we ever get to see Cooking In Prison. Arm Wrestling with Chas and Dave. Youth Hostelling With Chris Eubank. Or — the ne plus ultra — Monkey Tennis. Some ideas, it seems, are just too strange for telly.
Fortunately, there’s a place for them on YouTube. Plenty of people have uploaded videos of themselves playing tennis with monkeys. You’d be surprised at what prisoners are cooking in prison. Chris Eubank made an online advert for Hostelworld. And where I live, lots of people use their cameras to film endless variations on Inner-City Sumo every Friday and Saturday night. But if you’re looking for a real treat, something entirely unexpected and suitable only for the internet, just type ‘Tarot’ into your search engine.
Once you’ve waded through a couple of hundred charlatans, shysters and bona fide nutcases spouting absolute nonsense, you will eventually come to a series of online tarot readings currently being uploaded on an almost daily basis by none other than Alejandro Jodorowsky, the Chilean filmmaker responsible for El Topo (1970), The Holy Mountain (1973), and half a dozen other films that might charitably be described as ‘exuberant’.
Jodorowsky, it turns out, has been studying the tarot for more than half a century. He’s conducting the YouTube tarot readings for people who helped to crowdfund his most recent film, Endless Poetry. I haven’t seen the film, and have no intention of doing so, and I can absolutely guarantee that it’s nothing like as good as his tarot reading for, say, Kate in answer to the question: ‘What do I need to know about my purpose in life?’
What Jodorowsky instinctively understands is that online video is not broadcasting in the traditional sense at all. It’s more intimate. Like a peep show. Or a conversation.