Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ramblings: Televison: The Drug of the Nation


I hate it when people smugly say “I don’t watch television!” like it’s a great virtue. I’m ashamed to say though that “I don’t watch television!” too. It bores me senseless. I find myself getting itchy and restless and losing concentration in no time at all. It doesn’t relax me and feels like a chore. I’d always rather be reading.
I loathe adverts, they seem to crop up every 7 minutes or so now and half the TV shows now seem to spend a proportion of their time advertising their own show, recapping what happened, what’s going to happen and encouraging you to phone in to premium rate phone lines after answering the world’s most banal question. It seems to me that a lot of TV consists of about 20 minutes of actual television spread out over an hour or more. No wonder it makes me restless.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a snob about it, there’s stuff I love to watch. I unashamedly record “True Blood” every week to get off on the subversive shenanigans of a load of vampires with good pectorals. I smoke along with “Madmen” and if there’s a good BBC drama about a 1950s TV star then I’m glued.
Indulge me while I rant about a few of the worst culprits. I really enjoy ranting. Naturally this is only the opinion of an Interrupted Gayboy and does not have any endorsement from any major organisation or institution, sadly. I apologise if this is hard to relate to for people reading in countries other than Britain, but I’m sure you get dross that’s equally as annoying where you are.
The X Factor is the worst show on TV for me. Its a few minutes of TV spread over many hours each week. I fail to see the point of it. I see that it’s a huge cash cow raking in money from people but otherwise I’m puzzled. OK, it launched the stellar careers of Shane Ward, Steve Brockenstein and Leon Jackson. It gave us the multi talented Jedward and the world’s most interesting pop star, Leona Lewis. Yes, it has such stellar people as Danni Minogue judging it. She’s really experienced as a music artiste and in no way scraped a career through nepotism. If I wanted advice on a long lived music career I’m sure she’d be my first port of call. That’s if that there wasn’t a member of the world famous N-Dubz available or a woman famous for winning a talent contest, punching a black girl in a toilet and marrying a philanderer. Maybe a guest judge like the multi talented Gerri Halliwell would be a good role model. I love a woman who tirelessly seeks fame by any means and tastefully names her child Madonna Bluebell whilst eulogising about how great Margaret Thatcher was.
To be honest the people on X Factor are no role models for anyone, a panel of over styled, over botoxed victims of spray tan disasters are not my idea of entertainment. The freak show doesn’t stop there either. There’s the whole sadistic element of watching deluded fools who think they have talent make themselves look like idiots in front of millions. At least that’s tempered by the sad sob story ones to manipulate you a bit more and the annoying ones they put through on purpose to sell newspapers and get people spending money voting for them in a spirit of “I’m mad me!” faux subversion. Then of course the ultimate end result, a generic single for you to buy just in time for Christmas and then never play after a week or two.
I wonder if the poor people who enter realise what they’re aspiring for too. Fame isn’t always a barrel of laughs. I’m pretty sure it’s a mindless dream for lots of them with no thought to the consequences.
It’s a program celebrating the bland. Bland songs by Whitney and Mariah and a generic singing style of how many notes can you fit in one syllable. I can’t help but think what they’d said to various famous people had they been contestants.
“Scrap the bin bag dress Miss Harry, get the roots touched up and smile and we’re on to a winner.”
“Less of the squinting Mr Ferry and could you wear something instead of a lounge suit? Maybe a pair of Jeggins and a crop top?”
“Too husky Miss Springfield and could you sound a bit less Welsh?”
Now I turn my attention to a pointless celebrity who we’ve resurrected to taunt the public: namely Noel Edmonds.  Surely his appearances on the radio and TV in the 80s count as war crimes? He introduced Mr Blobby for fuck’s sake. He encouraged people to do dangerous stunts for fun which didn’t work out too well. Wasn’t it enough that we endured his novelty jumpers on Swapshop? He had to come back with the worst kind of vehicle possible; a program where British people pretend to be American. Deal or No Deal is the most ridiculous concept ever. People open boxes. If they don’t win money they still open the boxes they might have opened and everyone draws breath sharply for no discernible reason. Bizarre, but more disturbing is that everyone who goes on it becomes like the worst kind of American. I’ve nothing against low American culture, but I don’t want it on TV at teatime. There’s no call for tears over an unopened box or incessant whooping and pep talks from a group of people infected with false camaraderie. All presided over by a midget in misguided knitwear with a serious case of eighties bleach bouffant and a phrasebook full of cheesy catch phrases. Is lynching still illegal?
Now a whole genre which drives me mad: TV cookery shows. It’s just so bloody dull. I’d rather watch a vacuuming show or a dusting special. Why would I want to watch some egotistical fool make their tea? Not to mention the particular brands of fools they choose. The horrible smug faced Jamie Oliver who’s vying for world domination one short tongued Mockney lisp at a time? Ainsley Harriot: the unfunny black bloke with the wavy jazz hands who makes the Black and White Minstrels look like they were a genuine documentary? The sweary philanderer Gordon Ramsey who could store a week’s ingredients in his facial creases? Yuck. I don’t care how high you can lob a sweet potato before it lands in a pan, you bore me senseless. Take your fennel and stick it somewhere else.
Disclaimer: Fanny Craddock was a genius. I reserve the right to contradict myself.
Finally, I come to the true anti-Christ: Philip Schofield. The man gives me the creeps. I’m not fooled by his false sincerity. He doesn’t really care about the woman from Thane with a twisted bowel or what trauma Katie Price has been through. There’s evil lurking behind that fake smile. It’s in the eyes, I tell you. You may think I’m mad but I refuse to believe otherwise until proved wrong. You’ll be marvelling at my skill as a judge of character when it all comes out that he sold his soul to Satan or perpetrates a massacre. There’s badness lurking there, I tell you.
...and breathe.
Phew, I’ve typed away my bad day. All the little things that have driven me crazy today have drifted away in a good rant. Maybe TV does serve a purpose. I didn’t even get time to mention Gok Kwan, reality TV or the Loose Women either. Maybe next time.

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