Sunday, 15 November 2009

Bread And Circuses

I don't watch TV Talent shows. But the rest of my nuclear family are irradiated by them. (Value judgement?) Of course, if one of my twin 11 year olds, with his penchant for rather wonderful improvised raps actually made good his threat to a) film one for YouTube and b) Audition for Britain's got Talents, Shekels and Reichsmarks, then of course I would attend the recording in the TV Studio, Spanish onion and CS gas cannister in hand to ensure I wept tears of pride that he had evaded his genetic programming and fallen utterly under the sway of environmental factors such as globalised American culture...

My notion is that the hordes of kids and middle aged adults who sit at home of a weekend evening to participate in these shows, do so from a position of anxiety and neurosis. The streets awash with 24 hours alcohol become in their minds no-go areas. Thus disempowered, they seek some semblance of control by acting as the Greek Gods of old and legislating over the fates of mortals on TV. An even greater sense of omnipotence if it's a celebrity talent show, where some third-rater who disappeared from the public conscience for good reason, discovers they can hold a rhythm or look good in rhinestones...

Kids act this dynamic out all the time. The shoot 'em up and knock 'em down games on their consoles, fantasise returning them a vestige of control over the troglodytes and minotaurs outside the school gates, who demand tithes and taxes from them and again return them scurrying back to the relative safety of their homes, rarely to emerge once it gets dark (unless of course they are members of said press gangs).

If I may be so bold as to make a connection amidst all this so called interactivity. When insurgents post vids of raw war footage, of bodies among bombed out rubble, of exploding IEDs and beheadings of hostages, are they not also courting the vote of the audience sat at home? You the voters at home have the power to decide, is this a just war or not...Call in on our premium rate, or sign a petition on or stage a hunger strike etc etc.

I think I'd rather than kids answer questions such as "Madonna: Discuss" in their GCSE Media Studies, that actually they apply their forensic instincts to studying grainy video footage of IEDs and decide whether it's just smoke and mirrors and that the device did no damage to its target, or whether the bodies have been posed in a bombed out house and come to their own savvy conclusions. Then they could still legislate over the fate of others, but maybe to more pertinent effect.

Me, I don't need either an onion or a CS gas cannister to shed tears over such issues.

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