I’m currently 25,000 words into writing a new book that is particularly taxing on the brain. By the time I get back home I’ve been thinking hard for around six or seven uninterrupted hours and my brain feels like it has been replaced by jelly! There’s no point trying to read, I am sick of staring at a small computer screen, so I turn on the telly.
As a result, I keep analysing what’s on the box and pondering why it is so many of the programmes on TV now tend to fall into one of two categories (and often overlap). The first group can be briefly summed up by ‘gruesome death, war, mayhem and gross violence’ and the second by ‘Reality TV’ which features sex, appalling accidents, public humiliation, god-awfully ignorant people and the worship of greed. For light relief, we might get a nice aside in war movies or dystopias that reflect some grim autocratic military state. There is a real siege mentality about all these programmes, a deep ugliness and very little human kindness.
What I wonder is who thinks this stuff is the best way to entertain people? And what does it say about us if this is what we most want to watch? (I really want to know the answer to this one particularly, because I really, really don’t get it.) Yes, I understand that some of these programmes have witty scripts and quite intriguing plots but, actually, to me that almost makes it worse. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig; sexing up cruelty and carnage with a bit of witty repartee. Why does a good script suddenly make cruelty and carnage morally acceptable?
Are we being purposefully desensitised perhaps? If so, why? Is it so that as we are corralled and duped into passive acceptance of an autocratic state or so terrified into submission we won’t make a fuss? I wish I didn’t think this was even a remote possibility, but I’m afraid I do. More and more I can’t help thinking there is a cynical logic at work, an electronic equivalent of setting up gladiatorial arenas to amuse us while we’re screwed from behind. It’s the same with the ‘news’. It’s very hard not to believe this is a cynical ploy to distract and diminish anything of real newsworthiness – or worthiness fullstop. Poor George Orwell must be turning in his grave.
And most times it’s not even subtle, and certainly not expensive. We have the bloody Bachelor, for god’s sake, which reaches new heights of gross insult to anyone with half a brain and even a skerrick of scruples. And then there are the underlying messages of consume, consume, consume…. because it always boils down to money one way or the other.
One last thing that occurs to me as I flick through the channels (and then always give up in disgust and go and listen to a podcast): why IS it that advertisers think we’re more likely to eat something if they give it human characteristics? Are they appealing to the latent cannibal in us? Why do they think putting legs and arms and face on a yoghurt mean I’m more likely to buy it?
Random thoughts – just wondering if I’m the only one who thinks this stuff? Anyway, enough! I have an appointment with the Kardashians ….