So following on from my morning’s work and having recovered from Loose Women enough to force down something to eat, it was time to get into the afternoon’s viewing. And it was lucky I did; such treats were in store for me.
The news So the BBC does the usual sitting on the fence (although that’s still too provocative for Daily Mail hacks and readers), as does the ITV coverage. Channels 4 and Five know who their audiences are and keep their daytime news bulletins to 5 minutes a pop, with Channel 4 coming out on top as they actually treat their viewers like they have a brain.
Basically, the news at the moment goes: Yay, the Queen- reminder that Europe’s still got no money- bit about the Government changing their mind about something or doing something unethical and claiming ignorance- something about young people being scary or poor and unemployed (depending on how we feel about them that day)- brief mentioning of awful things happening somewhere abroad- if a soldier has died in Iraq or Afghanistan, something about that.
Having spent a significant proportion of the last five years studying the craft of writing, daytime television- while never attaining a spot close to my heart- is something that helped fuel my cynicism and general distrust in the world. So on a day off from my paid work, I decided to check out what’s on these days.
To bring you, my faithful readers, a well-researched and thoroughly devised blog post, I sat down in my pants, with a coffee (Brian Wogan, you are awesome, by the way) and a bacon sarnie and tried to get through a typical day’s schedule (on Freeview, Murdoch ain’t getting my money) without losing the will to live.
So since we’ve covered television, it only makes sense to have a look at advertising now, doesn’t it?
If an alien came to Earth tomorrow and stumbled across a working television set before encountering any people (just go with it), just think what kind of messed up impression of Britain and indeed, the whole planet TV shows and especially adverts (or commercials as our American friends know them) would give the unfortunate visitor. Think about it- watch a few ads and you’d be forgiven for thinking… Continue reading →
In this day and age, getting people to agree on anything is an achievement, but there can be no doubt that television changed the world. Even people who make a point of not owning one can’t deny that. The television set was, quite simply, one of the most revolutionary inventions of the twentieth century. It made things like the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Princess Diana’s funeral and the attacks on September 11th 2001 global events…
I take no issue with all that (even though, one could argue, that the live coverage of the riots across Britain in August served to exacerbate the trouble more than anything). My beef in lies within the gumph that falls between these occurrences.
A common argument online is the fact that television tends to cater toward the lowest common denominator (thick people, if any of you are reading this). That’s a bit unfair really, but fuck it, here’s some ways that they do:
To be honest, I’m not a fan of any reality television, so my knowledge of this subject is limited… But when have I ever let let little things like ‘facts’ get in the way of proceedings? Exactly. I will be trying to avoid the whole ‘television for morons that features morons’ angle if I can, though… oops.
The way I understand it, ‘reality’ television can be broken into two categories: ‘Genuine’ and ‘Extravagant’.
‘Genuine’ reality television features people doing their jobs. This can range from people cleaning up grotty council flats to the daily exploits of fishermen. Basically, they’re about some task that’s interesting but a bit too icky or dangerous for most of us.
This piece shall focus on the ‘Extravagant’; those shows with elaborate set pieces, special guests and aspirational music which I believe can be divided further into the following sub-sets: Celebrity and Fame-whore.
In fact, they are so extravagant, their not even ‘reality’ shows anymore, are they? They’re ‘talent’ shows. But I digress…
Of course, this is usage of the word in the loosest sense possible.
Places on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here appear to be reserved exclusively for actors/presenters/pop ‘stars’/persistent fame-whores whose careers have taken a turn for the worse and want to get back into the public eye. Not sure that doing a series of humiliating tasks is the best way to do this, but then again, my lack of television appearances could be directly correlated with the fact I’ve never chowed down on eyeballs, penises and anuses (leave it).
The other kind of ‘celebrity’ that appears on these shows are those that have a new book/TV show/film/career to promote. You generally won’t find this lot twatting about in the jungle, they’ll be learning a skill and earning the respect of boring middle-class people along the way. The most successful way to do this is to appear on Strictly Come Dancing and impress with your ballroom dancing ability.Dancing On Ice requires more skill, but the winner receives less acclaim, usually because the competitors are from ITV’s in-house shite like Emmerdale. If they can avoid being voted off for a few weeks and are pretty, a ‘will they/won’t they’ relationship with their dance partner can almost ensure passage to the final, if not victory itself.
Fame-whore A fame-whore is a breed of human that considers ‘be famous’ to be a career plan. The two most popular fame-whore shows of recent years are obviously Big Brother and The X-Factor (does it have a ‘the’ at the beginning? Actually, I don’t care), although Britain’s Got Talent appears to be increasing in popularity, for reasons I am unable to fathom.
What I understand Big Brother to be is the filmed escapades of a bunch of manically self-obsessed, borderline autistic people who are locked in a house together without a telly. Cue inane conversation and bitching. Each week, the housemate who is most likely to stab someone is kicked out until only the most dull remain. They will then be crowned the winner. Their prize? Getting their tits out in Nuts magazine.
The X-Factor is different. We get to endure the ‘audition’ process, which seems to be a ‘who can warble the most’ or a ‘whose backstory is most tragic’ contest. A few fat, ugly, untalented people are thrown in to lighten the mood, lots of people cry and then someone is crowned the winner. Somehow, they manage to drag this process out for over a quarter of a year AND make it seem like Dannii Minogue has the authority to make judgements on other people’s ability. Amazing achievements.
Britain’s Got Talent pretty much follows the same format as The X-Factor, but instead of receiving a recording contract, the winner performs at the Royal Variety Performance. It claims to be a talent show but it seems that the only ‘acts’ that ever win it are singers or dancers. If I was cynical, I would propose that this is because Mr Cowell and co. have more chance of making money out of them once the series has finished… Oh, wait; I totally am! Yeah- that’s the reason.
Then there is The Only Way Is Essex and the numerous similar programmes that are about to be forced on us. It seems that TV producers have realised that they don’t need a house with loads of cameras, they can go to the fame-whores themselves and observe them in their natural surroundings; it’s SO much cheaper. And morons will still lap it all up.