Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Saturday Night Entertainment Hits A New Low: An Unusually Review-led Article Based on Abhorrations of the Game Show Variety

The general public are largely looked upon as idiots by those pretentious enough to call themselves "above" the mooing mob. People who stand at bus stops, people who buy televisions, people who queue up in supermarkets, even people who walk down pavements, sometimes it's nice to believe that they're all complete dimwits with a boring job and a slightly unsatisfactory life that they don't even realise is unsatisfactory because they're too STUPID. DUUURR! What a bunch of dum dums! Look at them with their faces and their pints and their iPods. Bloody imbeciles.

Of course, this is a completely ridiculous way to view the world. Sure, I hate people, I never deny this fact to anybody, but I like to think I have good reason to do so. I have many an undiagnosed deep-rooted psychological impairment/extra chromosome/general unwarranted feeling of superiority, but so far my doctor has refused to believe me. Her exasperated sighs are becoming irritating. "You have not got Alzhiemer's, Katie" she says, showing me the door. "Other people are uncomfortable in social situations too, I swear that you are not Autistic." I'll show her. One day she'll find a massive tumour in my brain, then who's the paranoid hypochondriac? So, when I say I dislike people, I'm not dismissing them all as floating plebs in a scummy puddle of earthly disappointment. A lot of people are fun, or challenging, or even better, a lot like me. The worst type of person however, is one I haven't discussed properly yet. The type of person that despite all their faults and intensely annoying nuances still believes that they are fantabulous, and the rest of the population are total and utter sludgebrains. This is not me, please don't make that correlation.

The obsessively self-loving type of person was once described to me by an old friend as having a special sort of superiority problem, known only to them, and now you, as the "Entitlement Complex". There are clearly two groups of these types of people at work against each other over on channel 5. (or "5" as it likes to be known, as "Channel 5" brings to mind terrible foreign soaps and tasteful documentaries with "sex", "tits" or "megaviolence" in the title. Deleting the "channel" has succeeded only in reminding us that "5 US" exists, and makes us less likely to watch our own version of the channel.) I am no fan of game shows, and I never have been, ever since the death of Big Break on the BBC. I was too young to know how awful Jim Davidson really is. But over on "5", some trumpeting TV execs have come up with a format so ultimately flabbergasting it breaks new ground in how self-congratulating a person can be. Heads or Tails. It sounds exactly like something from TV Go Home. In fact, it was almost a third forseen by Charlie Brooker himself, during his descriptions of Deal or No Deal. The makers of Heads or Tails obviously saw this comparison and thought "wow, what a fan-TASTIC idea! Let's do it!" I'm not sure you need an explanation on the intricate workings of Heads or Tails, but basically members of the public (the Entitlement Complex type, who often feel they have been blessed with some sort of psychic power) stand at a suitably flashing podium in a futuristic but economical set, and decide whether the coin that JLC (Yes - that's Justin Lee Collins, the man-lion-arse who brought the Bristolian Accent into the forefront of Comedy Gold, when it clearly should have been Steven Merchant) has tossed in front of them has landed on heads or tails. Yes, you are watching Justin lee Collins toss on telly, and you are watching people get very excited about it. And this is a real TV show, remember. I had to keep pinching myself to see if I hadn't gone into some sort of medicated dreamworld. We are entering 2010, a year of LASER BEAMS and BLUE RAY and GEISHA ROBOTS. If the 80s could see us now, with our pitiful Christmas TV schedule and our inability to use touchscreen technology properly, if they could see that we still watched both Crocodile Dundee 1 and 2 this week despite having a world of entertainment at our disposal, if they could see that we were sat in front of our HD ready digital 44 inch LED telly watching a hairy man flip a coin, they wouldn't bother to end the cold war.

I know I bloody wouldn't. Would you? What a fucking disappointment. The Millennium was meant to be a time and a land far removed from anything we'd ever seen before. Will Smith even wrote a song about it. We were that excited. Instead, we have global warming, recession, Rabbit Chat TV, animal extinction, deadly viruses and Heads or Chuffing Tails. Happy New Year, ffs.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

"This is bigger than climate change. It is a battle to redefine humanity etc"

Over the past month, I've been swamped with an amount of work befitting a full-time paper collector who enjoys stacking lined A4 with meaningless alien scribbles next to his desk in an attempt to absorb the information without actually reading it. As a result of this, I haven't read a single newspaper that didn't have an exclamation mark or "HORROR" written as the headline. I'd like to say that I was artistically "slumming it". The truth is, the Sun was readily available at work in the staff room and it was easy to read at the same time as checking my emails on my horrible, awful, hateful Mobile phone and eating pasta carbonara. I'm a terrible student journalist.

It's not all bad though. When I had time, I glanced at the Guardian's twitter updates. Once or twice I even clicked on their homepage to see if I'd missed out on a world-changing event. The weird thing is that no matter what day I checked it on, nothing seemed to have gone on. Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes news stories are hysterical ways of saying "nothing much happened today"?

Wait, no, I'm pretty sure i don't mean that. I'm just suffering from complete news fatigue. When you study the news as part of your everyday work, look at it, really look at it, the way the news is written starts looking very similar. This is obviously to do with the standards journalists have to use when writing news stories - I don't suppose the public would be very happy if they started reporting forest fires with witty panache. It just feels slightly disconcerting when you've slept for 4 hours and you're back in front of a screen and George Monbiot's saying something about global warming. He's always saying something about global warming. If I'm not mistaken, he's always saying the same thing about global warming. "The climate denial industry is out to dupe the public. And it's working", "The one thing depleting faster than oil is the credibility of those measuring it". I'm not having a go, I'm just confused and bewildered. I care about the environment, and due to my horrendously hypochondriatic nature, I worry about everything all the time, from house fires to getting little bits of dust in my tea (one of my greatest fears), but he somehow seems to make me care less about the biggest threat to humanity since the Ice Age or the invention of saturated fat. I no longer care about the Copenhagen Conference - as far as I'm concerned it couldn't have come at a worse time. I had three major deadlines and Christmas was so bloody near I could smell the Parmesan roast potatoes and chestnut stuffing (I'm cooking Christmas Dinner this year, a task I have been planning for since October. Holidays are Comin', Holidays are Comin'...). There was no time for me to get increasingly worried and write a ridiculously tears-in-eyes fists-to-the-sky monolith of a blog post about it. I simply missed it. And the world did not end.

I know it's in my negative nature to constantly look for the worst possible outcome at all times, but my work recently made me see something. After all the work you do writing a perfect article, how many people go on to read it? How many people notice the hard work you put in? And how long does it take them to forget about it? It's not like journalists are out there writing seminal novels every day, these talented wordsmiths (urgh, I hate that term) spend agonising hours picking the best possible words to convey their point, only to have them scanned briefly on the tube and then discarded by a person who has to now get on with 'real life'. It's somewhat INCREDIBLY DEPRESSING, don't you think? Of course some journalists get to compile their articles in books, ready to be bought by rabid fans. By 'some journalists' I mean 'Charlie brooker'. Who isn't even a journalist, if you think about it. I only started thinking about this because of research I was doing on the 'fade effect', a phenomenon used as a defense in court by newspapers who print too much information about criminals who have yet to be fully charged with any conviction. Basically, the thought behind it is that the public consume news, but then instantly forget it. Basically, newspapers are like a temporary entertainment form for us shumbling sniffy bipeds, giving us something to read on the way to work. As soon as we have to get on with something real, we forget most of the details. This of course isn't particularly true in cases where you actively care about a story or issue, but you're unlikely to begin rallying troops for a campaign group against a common crook. Whether or not they were found guilty yet. Unless you're writing on CiF. but that's a whole 'nuther rant altogether.

I'm looking forward to sitting down on Sunday and having the time to read an entire Observer. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of reading the news. it's ever so distressing to live in constant belief that you're having Deja Vu, when all you're actually doing is picking out an inverted pyramid rather than taking in any information. Ooh look, "Petrol prices Push Up Inflation". What a gem. I shall write a personal email to the journalist who created this story and commend them for picking such descriptive language.

Kidding. I don't compliment people. Jesus, where have you been?
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