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The International Writers Magazine: Lifestyles

I'm NOT a celebrity - get me out of here!
Colin Todhunter

C
elebrity Love Island, Celebrity Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here — these are just some of the wonderful delights served up by British TV in a bid to draw in the viewers without having to tax production budgets or brain cells too much. The “celebrities” who appear on these reality shows are usually “C” list people trying to revive their flagging careers. Many of them were once famous for something, but we can’t quite remember what for and others are famous for... well, just being famous.

Go into any high street shop and the shelves will be bending over with magazines that groan under the weight of the faces of these C-listers on their covers. What they had for breakfast, their latest sexploits, when they last went to the toilet: world-shattering news about nothing in particular. Of course the message is “you too could and should live like them”… if you had half a brain that is, a humungous ego and a desire to sell your soul to the media.

The public loves it. The magazines and tacky tabloids sell by the cartload and viewing figures for the programmes sometimes hit the roof. It has such an appeal that it has often become difficult to differentiate between this type of reality-show stuff and whatever else passes for news or entertainment in the media. Even some of the news programmes have now adopted the format of an upbeat breakfast-time TV chat show, with celebrity guests and uninformed opinion on topics. The next stage in this magnificent evolutionary process will of course involve some celebrity presenting the show, with a bit of stripping, singing and dancing thrown in. Too much gloom, doom and analysis is of course bad for the soul (and those all-important ratings).
A certain happy-hearted fizz to it all is a must and the commercials are part of the act. Indeed the commercials are seemingly dictating the act. What better fizz is there than Pepsi and Coke! They are the ultimate in emptiness with their Just-Do-It mentality. Their advertisements represent a triumph of blandness over meaning. About as much substance as the air bubbles in a can. Just do what? I don’t know. Who cares? Let’s have a cola and settle down for “chat show news”, “celebrity I-love-myself island”, or “I’m a celebrity but no one remembers why”. The viewers aren’t really sure why they like such shows (or those colas) but they do.

Mind numbing blandness and emptiness sell. And the media executives know it. So it’s goodbye to lofty ideals such as diversity of thought and informed analysis, it was nice knowing you. You were always under threat and in danger of being swept aside by those forces that appealed to our narrower and baser instincts. Such forces now sometimes seem almost irresistible.

In Britain, we don’t really need God anymore, but still yearn to believe in something and worship it through some TV programme or the sickly, sweet pages of a glossy magazine. I’ve seen the future and it’s not a pretty sight. Look out: coming to a satellite TV station everywhere in the world soon — “I’m a has-been celebrity with half a brain cell trying to revive my flagging career on some low-budget, second-rate programme”. This will be followed the next day by seething journalists writing a columns bemoaning the loss of a vibrant media and the narrowing of cultural concerns. Come to think of it, the articles will probably be very similar to this one.

© Colin Todhunter December 2006
colin_todhunter@yahoo.co.uk
 
 
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