Good morning, dear reader! How was your weekend?
Reality television is a double-edged tennis racket. On the one hand, shows like Come Dine With Me are very entertaining, and you can get recipe ideas from them. On the other hand, Made In Chelsea is an abomination before God and our eyeballs.
When we were first exposed to reality television, it was in the form of a socio-psychological experiment that had a few ethical grey areas, but was essentially an educational undertaking: the first series of Big Brother. That show in particular has become hideously bloated into something that manages to be skull-crackingly boring and criminally immoral and a damning indictment on the state of television. Almost an achievement, isn’t it?
The ones that worry me most are the geographically specific shows that follow a set of people around: Made in Chelsea, The Only Way is Essex, and now We Are Watford, which makes me want to burn my home town to the ground, just to prevent the show from being filmed. The participants of these shows have sold their social lives and rights to privacy. They have allowed a producer to tell them how to conduct their love lives and friendships, and they have the conceit to believe that a soulless, fabricated version of their petty little lives is television-worthy. The worst thing is that we watch, and we validate them.
In the 1920s, tabloid journalists and photographers made a huge fuss of a group of socialites and aristocrats, referred to as the Bright Young Things (or Bright Young People). After the huge losses suffered in the First World War, the young people of London decided to take life into their own hands and really, loudly, raucously live it.
The difference between the Bright Young Things and the cretins on reality television is that the 1920s counterparts didn’t sell themselves to producers who then orchestrated their lives. Bright Young Things is an excellent film (based on Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh) that tells us what we should have learned in over ninety years: other people’s lives are not supposed to be pursued by the media.
Besides, you’re flipping brilliant. Your life is immensely fascinating and important, and living it takes up quite a lot of your time, so why would you want to watch a bunch of morons leading their own lives badly? People tell me that it amuses them and it’s a case of “it could be worse; I could be him/her”, but I don’t think that that’s enough to waste a whole hour of your life on once a week. Have an absolutely spiffing Monday.