Remotely Interested: Rise Of The Idiots

Posted on January 27, 2012

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About six years ago, Daily Mail bating controversy funnel, Chris Morris, wrote a show with The Guardian’s angriest man, Charlie Brooker, called Nathan Barley. Not only was it an excellent series, but it also foretold the rise of ‘yoof’ talking idiots in the ‘meedjah’ as well as pretty much foreshadowing the entire contents of Topman in 2011. The only thing that Barley didn’t predict was the rise of the culture of celebrity idiocy in the British media. Everywhere you look various nobodies are getting columns in the glossy, shocking-misery mags (the ones with headlines like ‘My ex-boyfriend pissed in my cake mix then spontaneously combusted; was he cursed by the next door neighbour?’) and even national newspapers. It would seem that these days you don’t need to be a journalist to get a column in a daily newspaper, you just need one to write it for you.

Nowhere is the presence of slack-jawed, omelette brained knuckle scrapers more prevalent than on the telly. Apparently we just can’t get enough of people bucking Darwin’s theory by somehow going through life and breeding against all the odds. ITV2 are the worst culprits for giving these cretins a continued career, following as they do Peter Andre, Kerry Katona and Alex Reid, but their usual formula relies on waiting until these people are falling to their lowest point (they don’t have to wait long, most of these ‘celebrities’ plunge more depths in a year than even the most avid potholer and/or Daily Mail columnist manage) before they can attempt to build them back up to an audience of thousands.

The typical trajectory for these frankly depressing shows is that a band member/ model/ socialite/ footballer’s ex or partner of either of the first three, will crash out of his/her chosen profession, most likely due to substance abuse or, personal scandal or a break up. From there they head off to the Australian Jungle or to their nearest Ice Rink before being offered the chance to be followed around by cameras for ITV 2, a channel with even less creativity than BBC Three.

This formula has been the norm for a far while now (along with Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother when they were around), more often than not leading to the type of media appearances and tabloid notoriety that stems from fame without achievement. Now though, TV and print seem to have found a way around paying out lucrative sums to washed up personalities whilst also raising ratings. Reality shows.

The fact is though, genuine reality shows have been falling out of fashion for many years, with workplace shows like Airport giving way to talent shows such as Britain’s Got Talent (which has in turn become a showcase for the special type of morons who are all too ready to be ridiculed so long as they get on that box in the corner. The one they watch each night before passing out in a puddle of gin and melted Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream), with the next step apparently being scripted reality shows.

If the idea of scripted reality seems slightly oxymoronic to you, or even paradoxical, that’s because it fucking is, so well done you for being sane and (probably) reasonably balanced. It’s an atrocious idea to start with, and one that has already been stretched to breaking point in a few short months. As with so many pop culture cancers, the fake reality concept first popped up in America, with their melodramatic versions of shows such as Hell’s Kitchen and Super Nanny morphing into the six fingered mutant that is Jersey Shore.

Jersey Shore’s formula is basically following a group of vacuous bell-ends as they spend inordinate amounts of time partying with their shirts off and pining after each other in incredibly ponderous scenes where they confide in one another. This would be all well and good and ignorable if it hadn’t led to The Only Way Is Essex popping up on, you guessed it, ITV2. A sea of fake tans, ear-scraping accents and questionable genital glitter, TOWIE has already succeeded in creating a selection of “celebs” out of pointless human beings, most of them pretending to do jobs in promoting when they’re actually actors, with the likes of Amy Childs finding her way into glamour magazines alongside the likes of Cheryl Cole.

After pointless people though TVS attention will always turn to the truly horrendous, hence E4′s Made In Chelsea (a bunch of chinless wonders, rah, rah, rah-ing through their trust funds, and on the 24th of this month, the newest addition to the genre, Geordie Shore. A true British version of Jersey Shore from MTV, I find Geordie Shore particularly galling, being as I am from around those parts. Despite my lack of accent, Geordie Shore is likely to give me a cultural cringe so massive you’d think I’d just felt Alderaan being destroyed. In all likelihood I’ll probably turn inside out, or curl up and pass into a coma. Just reading the “cast” descriptions are enough to warrant vomiting into the back of your telly in the hope it will stop working With their charming attributes and personalities described thusly: ‘a tomboy at heart but has no problem dancing on tables or flashing her boobs- basically anything goes’ and ‘His quest in life is to pull as many girls as possible and in his own words: “why not go out and get pissed, get naked and have fun!”’, or even “girls call me a slut, ex-boyfriends call me a psycho and my Mum calls me an idiot,” how could you not want to endlessly punch them until your hand erodes and you end up battering them with your bloody stump?

The worst thing about these descriptions and these shows overall is not the just the type of people that they shove into our faces and media, more that the very worst attributes of these latest sets of glory hounds are extrapolated and celebrated, as if getting your tits out and falling off a fucking table is some sort of new sporting achievement, something that people will train for months to do in the future. It’s depressing, it’s enraging, but thankfully it’s also going to be relatively short lived. Shows like TOWIE and Geordie Shore seem predestined to be a footnote in the history of British TV alongside Airport and Driving School, with each more ridiculous group of stereotypes diminishing the longevity of the ‘genre’ until their ‘casts’ can go back to promoting nightclubs or whatever it is they don’t actually do instead of clogging up our newspapers and magazines. Leave that to the real coke-head, prostitute-loyalty card holding messes out there.

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