Saturday, 23 April 2011


Saturday. After the gift of warmth and sunlight for a few hours in my parents' back garden, I'm forced to pay the price after the sun sets.

That price is a forced viewing of Britain's Got Talent. I haven't watched TV (in the traditional sense) for the best part of a year, so this is probably not the best way to reintroduce myself to the medium.


Whilst I'm fully aware that Saturday evenings have long since been the domain of nauseatingly awful reality TV and talent competitions, this was like waking from a coma and being faced with the charred aftermath of an entertainment holocaust. Amongst the wreckage, all that remains is Cat Deeley, Michael McIntyre and David Hasselhoff, mindlessly applauding the worthless skills of society's unwanted and ignored, like lobotomised seals.

And it's all our fucking fault. We brought this on. Myself included, we watch it 'ironically' and write about it and draw attention to how ridiculous it is. We buy into it as we tweet and blog away. It's something to draw a common ground on. A way to facilitate socialising with others, because it requires no effort whatsoever. We can point and laugh at the 'idiots' who sit in the audiences, trained to do nothing more than split comments into negative/positive and boo/cheer accordingly. We can take the piss out of them, but at least they're entertained.

I don't need to worry about them, they're not reading this. You are, and unless you got here desperately searching for Michael McIntyre clips on Google (increasingly likely now I've mentioned his name again), you're like me. You look down upon this stuff, but you watch it anyway to remind yourself that you're OK. You contribute to the ratings, you mention it and give it credibility. Then more comes and you call it society going down the pan, dumbing down. Ten years pass and because of this talk, the pandemic is upon us. It's a vicious cycle of supply and demand gone awry.

Is this all sounding rather melodramatic? It should be. Why did YOU watch Britain's Got Talent tonight? I could say this evening that I was just in the proximity of people that decided they were watching it so I had to conform. But I could have done something else, found something more rewarding to do. I didn't. And when that poodle started accompanying a soprano singing Pie Jesu, I just felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and emptiness.

That example was particularly raw because, all things aside, the woman had enough talent to be an accomplished singer on her own. But because of the way these things work nowadays, she felt she needed to use BGT to springboard herself to bigger and better things. And since incongruity seems to be the order of the day, she needed the poodle to do that. Even the comments were nothing to do with her unquestionable talent, but the performance of the dog, which was simply mimicking her voice with endless howling. That was the point of difference. That was what got her the gig.

Don't get me wrong, I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is minute. But it's not insignificant. Seeing the audience's insatiable demand for "weirdness" above all else was something I found deeply unsettling. A world where a man is lauded with praise for singing nursery rhymes to the chords of Snow Patrol is not a world I want to be a part of.

We're nosediving with no sign of pulling out of it. And the worst thing is that the shows with mostly negative audience receptions are the most virulent. We draw attention to how backwards television has become, and in turn contribute to its downfall as our efforts are rewarded with more shit TV to treat with mockery and disdain. The US television output is going from strength to strength while we prolapse.

And why? Because this is what we wanted, apparently.

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