Heston' Art Bitch' Rufus Gollightly: The continuous drama of our downward spiral.

The continuous drama of our downward spiral.

Our enraged Columnist Heston-Rufus Golightly, aka Art Bitch takes a swipe at Soap Operas and Opera. Here is an angry erudite who would love nothing
more than to vomit over current products of 'culture' - on the tv, on film, in 'art' galleries and elsewhere. Here in La Bouche he gives you his astute and BRUTAL opinion on who is entertainment enemy number one and why! Whatever you make of our callous contributer, it's a jolly good read...

I was in Croatia recently, a mad place full of hard players and eccentric genius. They never watch TV, and you can see the effect of this on the population all too clearly. They seem happy, erudite, intelligent, fit, creative, interesting people, not seduced by celebrity nor victims of advertising. They are happy with their lot and their bodies and their social skills and capacity for fun come naturally.

Only on my return to the UK did I see the endless parade of dull fictional lives, flies-on-walls sewn together with a patchwork of corporate advertising, for the really quite surreal and unbelievable phenomena that it really is. It may be a cliche, but TV is not good for the health. It turns both the mind and the body into a couch potato. Makes lazy thinkers. This is good for commerce, because lazy thinkers are easy to persuade, easy to sell to, and are never going to start a revolution.

Going out and seeing real things and chatting with real people about the real things, as they do in Croatia, keeps the mind working and the body fit. TV draws you into a downward spiral of false aspiration and projected selves. TV is like one big subliminal advert for itself - it hypnotises you into watching it, and the more you watch, the more you are under it's spell. And the life that you fail to have under the spell of TV gets gradually replaced by it's output. This is seen no more poignantly than with the Soap Opera genre.

There may be nothing wrong wityh the concept of soaps per se, but what is quite hard to fathom is quite how obsessed with them we have become as a nation - leading of course to the ridiculous over-profileration of reality TV, which is nothing more than an extension of the genre. Big Brother, and all its offspring, is after-all not a lot more than a continuous drama, only using real people. TV has had an obsession recently with the use of real people, citing the argument that the great unwashed have been traditionally under-represented in media, and that TV is becoming more relevant as the audience are more able to relate to it's protagonists. Though this may be true, it is one of the greatest cons of all time that the execs may care about this on a moral highground. What the audience don't always realise is that they are sleep-walking into a world of (in the case of the BBC) social control and (ITV / C4) being brainwashed by advertisers. And ratings matter for that reason alone.

One good example of the social control exercised by TV can be seen in THE CHOIR: UNSUNG TOWN (BBC2). I literally sat watching what was the last episode in series 3 of this (having never seen it before) with my mouth agape. For the uninitiated, this is a series in which Gareth Malone and large camera crew descend on a small town, South Oxhey in Hertfordshire, which is like a shabby council estate but a whole town of it, and persuades the great unwashed to form a choir.

Malone has been greeted by many reviews (noteably the Daily Torygraph) as a hero for managing to transform the lives of ordinary people. Hmmmm. This is one thing telly can be very good at - making us forget there's a camera there. Erm, anybody like to hazard a guess what drove the people of South Oxhey into singing - This bespectacled, posh grammer school little git ordering people around or, erm, the fact that there may be a chance of getting on telly? I leave that one with you.

Here's an idea - let's do a documentary in which a working class man goes to Windsor and tries to get a load of stuck-up nonces to ditch their polo hammers and form a darts team. See how you get on there.

Jumped up little twerps like him -  and I should know - I went to school with most of them – are not only born with a sack of silver spoon in their gob, but they're unfortuately born with the innate ability to command. His ancestors will have been captains of the slave trade and pioneers of the industrial revolution - so he is well equipped with the ativisms required to boss around a bunch of half-brained obedient losers. This is the very reason why nothing ever changes in this country - why the blind are leading the blind off the edge of the precipice without anyone complaining or even noticing. The crisis in the widening wealth gap and class gap is only encouraged by these projects, and the mass disemination of them. And yet we lap it up, encourage it, even hail it as being transformatory.

There are a few things we can rely on – poor people will always be stupid. But I'm not being classist. Rich people are stupid too. It's just that the rich people possess the tools required to order about the poor people. What I really wanted I suppose whilst watching was some real drama. This assembly of football hooligans would kick off at a moment's chance.

And what do we get these lottery-driven numbskells to sing? Brahms? A bit of opera? No walking on sunshine and some fucking Beatles tracks. Oh and the saints go marching in. Because that's all these people can get their heads round of course. The result was a racket. But of course despite this, everybody patted themselves on the back at how great it was.

The best experience of my life ever says one participant - filled a massive void in my life says another. Well mate try showhorning yourself away from eastenders and you may well just have some more experiances to fill the void that is your slave-driven, homogeneous, predictable, uneducated life.

Parading these people before the cameras is cringeworthy. It is class humiliation on a grand scale. The greatest trick the BBC has managed to pull here, is that they have got them to agree to it wholeheartedly. Those execs really will be sniggering into their cappuccinos at pulling this one off.

The world of TV has become so intrinsically entwined with the real lives of our nation, that it is often difficult to tell them apart. Those crappy TV listings mags, deliberately run stories week after week about soap characters, but written as is they are real people. This is the logical conclusion of living our lives through the box. I have heard endless stories about how characters get written to by audience members, as if they are their friend. I even read the other day, that when Victor Meldrew died in the One Foot in the Grave series, bouquets of flowers and sympathy cards began appearing at the spot where he was mowed down by a bus.

So it comes as no surprise when this is extended to rality TV - Our tabloids are now full of what has gone on lately on the latest fly-on-the-wall exercise, but this time actually featuring real people. And TV has very recently become a great bedfellow with the tabloid mentality - they are now living a harmonious symbiotic relationship, taking another chunk out of our collective consciousness, supporting off-line what we are supposed to think on-line. Tabloid culture is taking over.

Take the shameless new Pig-on-the-wall documentary programme TO CATCH A PAEDOPHILE (ITV1 Tuesdays). Another slippery slope we've been sleepwalking into is transforming ourselves into the US in the way we deal with crime. Since when did it become ok to tell the story of entrapping a paedophile using suspence music, clever scripts, and advertising football in the adverts? These people are gonna get punished for their offence. So why do we have a fetish for giving out the names and images of criminals in the most vulnerable position – that being paedophiles? Paedophilia we do not condone (as Mr. Angry from South Oxhey will probably accuse me of) but what I do say is that around 70% of child sex offenders were themselves abused as children. One day they wake up and it's their 18th birthday and they suddenly turn from being the victim to being the predator. This is shameless tabloid TV at it's worst.

It really is about time this country got up off the sofa and started thinking about the real consequences of not thinking. Or maybe we should all move to Croatia.

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