People look at me strange when I say I do not watch television. “but how? You are missing out on so much!” But am I? Really? Or I am just missing on your world escaping popular culture which carries the dominant ideology?
*Note: this is not criticising all television. There are many companies that are piecing together good, sometimes informative and above all entertaining television programs in the 21st century. For example, Sir David Attenborough, I salute you and your team that puts together your documentaries. This blog post will be focusing solely on what my ‘stereotypical generation’ finds entertaining, and how I believe it is not, bluntly, entertainment.
Don’t get me wrong here. Everyone needs their own forms of escapism in this testing, sometimes stressful world. I have mine: I have football. However, there are many programmes that have irked me in recent years the more I have thought about and looked into. It’s annoyed me more and more, which is I am writing this blog post today. This blog post will discuss three genres of TV show.
- Game Shows. – the Chase For years, I adored a good game show. I would sit down with my family and watch various gameshows such as Tipping Point, All Star Family Fortunes and all the classics. However, as I’ve got older this has changed. These shows may seem harmless, but the more you think about them the more harmful they get. On the show Tipping Point, for example, there are four contestants which accumulate money. If one is lucky enough to get the final, they can compete for £10,000. A key factor of these game shows is that the contestants always sell their dreams to the presenter, who I guarantee you is ROLLING in it and most certainly has the power to generate these dreams in around ten seconds, maximum. However, he does not and instead the contestants put counters into a machine hoping to knock other counters out to accumulate their money power. If the money pile is not big enough, the money is ripped away from them. Goodbye, that’s it. Back to your normal life. You really thought you would be lucky enough to achieve your dreams in around 20 minutes? You really thought this luck was on your side? Haha goodbye, no one cares about them.
There’s something really sickening about the idea that the presenter of the show is watching 75% of the contestants have hope in building their dreams up but are ripped away with having a sufficient wealth amount themselves. Its like the bourgeoisie watching the proletariat play snakes and ladders. In the supposed meritocratic society of our time, is this not just reinforcing the ‘luck element’ of our society?
Counter of this idea: it is no doubt that these type of shows have educational benefits, as those watching along can answer the questions at home. They may perhaps learn something new, or have their confidence boosted if they get a question right. It keeps the brain active (when concerning the boosting of knowledge.).
2.) The Jeremy Kyle show
This show is now axed, and for a while I was very upset about this. For years, it had been my ambition to see the show being filmed live on my 18th birthday, the eligible age to be in the studio audience.
The Jeremy Kyle show always had a sinister reputation. ‘Guests’ would write or call the show with a particular dilemma. Common themes were cheating tests, DNA tests and lie detector tests. If one individual was found guilty of cheating or stealing, all shouty sweary hell would break loose mixed in with tears. All this time, the lead presenter would pose a menacing figure, getting right in the middle of the action by asking questions and confronting those that may be in the wrong. The audience would usually laugh in the background. Occasionally, there was the more emotional story of family reunions (‘I have not seen my father in 30 years!’) to ease the emotional heart.
Reports in 2019 came out that a man had committed suicide after appearing on the show. Police ruled that the ‘death was not to be treated as suspicious.’ The man had undertaken a lie detector test and he had failed. Usually on the show, the failure of a lie detector test leads to fights, arguments and shouting. However, according to an audience member this man collapsed to the ground and begging his fiancé for forgiveness. They both ended up sobbing, and audience members recalled that ‘the mood had completely changed’ to ‘uncomfortable.’ The show was pulled and axed, with the chief executive saying that it was down to the ‘gravity of events.’
This is where, on my part, I had a rethink. I had been a loyal watcher of this show, which I am ashamed to think about now. I saw the show in a completely different light, and realised that it was not actually entertainment.
My analysis is the show is somewhat of a bull ring, with the ‘bulls’ being the lower class, the underclass of society. The presenter is very much the ringmaster, frequently upsetting the bulls and taunting them. All the while behind the audience laughs and jeers as if it is some kind of game. It not in fact a game, just as bullfighting is not. It is cruel and life threatening to those that are in the ring. Instead of being listened to, they were laughed at. Instead of these people getting help, they were jeered and laughed for the endorsement of our entertainment.
It could be argued that they did receive support behind the closed doors. However, as the horrific saddening death that resulted in this show, was this ever enough? Or were the events too scarring? It is sad to think that those who applied to the show must have felt like they had no other help to turn to apart from demonstrating their problem on national reality TV show through a belittling manner. This, for the underclass was the only way that they could make their voices heard, which we gobbled up as a nation not for the sake of help but for the sake of endorsing entertainment.
3.) Loose Women:
This is one show that I have always been against. I just don’t understand the ‘community’ feature that it supposedly entails.
I understand it’s context. Loose Women is a talk show which is broadcasted at noon and is hosted by a panel of women. They mostly talk about events that may have affected women, ‘women’ problems like problems with periods or dresses (haha! so relatable) or inspirational stories which will tug at the heartstrings. As the time it is broadcast is at noon, this is meant to appeal to the women who are currently entailing the housework within their homes while the husband is out working. It provides a sense of community, as if to say ‘hey look! Older woman! You are not alone with your troubles and woes! There are so many other women like you! Don’t worry!’. On the face of it, this may seem like a good intention.
There is one key distinction to be made here. The woman who host the panels have celebrity status, and are once again, ROLLING in it. There is no way that they have the same troubles that working class women may entail. This show portrays a false sense of being relatable, as the celebrities have a much more privileged life with lots more wealth. A regular host, Ruth Langesford has once mentioned the ‘cleaner’ that they have in their house! A cleaner! In most working class families, the women is still stereotypically the cleaner! The British Social Attitudes Survey (2008) found that out of all the women that had a male partner, 75% of them said that they always did the laundry. A woman watching this show who is meant to be the target audience will have much different problems to the presenters.
This is quite sad, and also relates to Marx’s theory of class exploitation (yes, yes, this may sound a bit bonkers but let me explain myself.) A woman watching this show, encompassed in this false sense of community may take comfort from this and feel like they are not alone as they complete their house routines and cleaning. Thus, this keeps them happy within that role; the dominant ideology has been passed on through this media programme and women are now encompassed under the false class consciousness. They are happy, there is community. They become less aware of their exploitation within the capitalist society. They do not realise that they are actually being exploited within this system keeping the elite in power. How is this entertainment? It is a media tool.
All things considered, am I missing too much by not watching television? Perhaps I am, but only the political and social analysis.