Saturday, 27 October 2007


I’m deeply paranoid. It’s not a good trait, but it’s part of me none the less. However, we shall leave this aside for the time being – it’s just something that needed to be said.

Instead we shall focus on fame. Fame and the collapse of humanity. Well, not humanity, perhaps, but maybe human cultural achievement.

If ancient history has taught be anything it’s that it has been human nature to do two things for thousands of years. Firstly, to talk about how good the good old days really were. Secondly, to gossip about people in the public eye; Suetontius’ 12 Caesar’s is by far the more fun to read between that book and any by Tacitus. It does feel, however, that this desire has grown in our age – the age of Heat, Hello and Internet gossip. It also feels that the target of our interest, the standard of who is worthy of the aim of our gossip has dropped from Emperor’s to imbeciles.

Who’s to blame? Television, for dumbing down? Us for lapping it up? Chicken or egg? A great deal of the blame does lay at the feet of those people who read magazines or watch television with an arch sense of “irony”. Those idiots aren’t helping anyone. Are we a nation of morons, a world of idiots, as any reality show implies, or is everything edited to make us look that way?

I have heard the argument for gossip press that anyone who signs up for the life of fame should be grateful, any press is good press, they use the press to get where they are, the people are responsible for where they are. Is this true? Should an actor be followed, photographed while drinking coffee after a trip to the gym? Are we really interested in such and such’s cellulite? Or so and so’s paunch? Really? Seriously?

Reality television is on a par with gossip rags and, as such, they should exist in a world at the edge of culture – if an individual signs up to that world, then they should be fair game. Same for anyone who is famous for being famous – fair game. Any kid that says ‘I want to be famous’ without being able to explain in what area and for what reason other than simply desiring fame – leave those who don’t alone, and leave those if us who don’t care well alone.

Reality television is the falsest of false entertainment economy – time filling cheap crud with no resale value, and no future – following the same stale format year in, year out, losing viewers to gimmicks. One hopes that it has no future. One hopes that we will be able to look back on our age with some pride, with more of a sense of Tacitus than Suetonius.

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