Television breeds mediocrity and submission
It’s funny isn’t it. The one thing I’m about to slag off right now is the one thing I’m watching and – indeed – I enjoy watching it. We are, of course, talking about TV soaps. I’m not a big subscriber to TV in general but soaps have gone downhill in recent years. Why pick on soaps? Why not reality TV shows like Big Bother and I’m A Nonentity? I’ll come on to those later.
I was influenced to write this blog after somebody was discussing the state of society today (my favourite topic) and how the current and possibly the next generation are being seen as a lost generation. As much as the experts want to defend television and its effects – or not so – I strongly believe television has a negative impact on society. Take a look at this…
Any of you guys ever heard of a tiny country in the Himalayas called Bhutan. It was created by a Tibetan monk in the year 1616 as a kind of exile away from the rest of the world. And for nearly 400 years it worked until they brought in television. In 1999, 46 cable TV channels (mainly Murdoch owned) were introduced into the country. Here’s a little quote from a Guardian article written in 2003…
“… There were no public hospitals or schools until the 1950s, and no paper currency, roads or electricity until several years after that. Bhutan had no diplomatic relations with any other country until 1961, and the first invited western visitors came only in 1974, for the coronation of the current monarch: Dragon King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Today, although a constant stream of people are moving to Thimphu - with their cars - there is still no word in dzongkha, the Bhutanese language, for traffic jam. But none of these developments, it seems, has made such a fundamental impact on Bhutanese life as TV. Since the April 2002 crime wave, the national newspaper, Kuensel, has called for the censoring of television (some have even suggested that foreign broadcasters, such as Star TV, be banned altogether). An editorial warns: "We are seeing for the first time broken families, school dropouts and other negative youth crimes. We are beginning to see crime associated with drug users all over the world - shoplifting, burglary and violence."
Well, proof if you need it folks. But turning our attentions back to British TV, and more to the point, soaps. Why do I think they are a bad influence? The problem with our current society today is that are younger generation live by the soaps. They are growing up, probably with not a lot of experience of the outside world, and thinking that if such-and-such does this, that and the other on a certain soap then it’s okay for them to go off and do it themselves. So, if we see teenagers getting drunk on TV or getting pregnant then the youths watching may think that that is an option.
Now hang on a moment. These programs are probably trying to be responsible, surely? There is always a moral to the story. The main problem is that a fair amount todays youth know someone who is or are being brought up in a recession, in broken families and/or with some sort of social issues surrounding them. So, when programs like Coronation Street and Eastenders come on the box they are watching this as if it is a guide to how life is really lived. They treat it as if it is reality. If the plotlines to these soaps are horrendous then that doesn’t say much for the youths watching, expecting to get some life experience from it all.
Let’s pick on EastEnders for a moment. Not because I don’t like it – I do – but because I don’t watch any of the other crap. It’s complete Disney. People always eating in the café. Sometimes 3 times an episode. They are moaning about being broke but yet can afford a meal in a greasy spoon which is going to cost a damned sight more than a trip down to Aldi or Netto. Then there is the Queen Vic. Who, on Jah’s earth, can afford to daily drop by the local for a couple of pints? I have also noticed how many of the characters do not drive. Could it be due to the point that by time they’ve found a useful plotline and they need to drive they’ve been in the Vic for a swift half and are over the limit? Seriously though, let’s do a count of how much these characters drink per week. Of course I’m being pedantic but my point is there are people out there who are not able to tell fiction from reality and believe it is perfectly okay to go down the boozer every day and every night. And then there’s the fighting. I couldn’t miss that out. Someone in these soaps has to get terribly plastered to the point a fight starts up. Eastenders has a reputation for this. Again, it is sending the wrong message to the youth. Yes, it’s okay to get drunk occasionally. No, it’s not alright to take out your aggressions due to the effects of your drunkeness on other people. Yet, the script writers put these people in the wrong, quite rightly, only to allow other characters to carry on and do the same thing as well. Everyone, pardon my French, on a soap has the ability to be a piss head.
Reality TV shows (which are heavily edited so are only fragmented reality in essence – a bit like our society) like Big Bother and I’m A Nonentity, Get Me Outta Here are even worser. A TV company called Endomel, run by a certain Peter Bazalgette (his great-great-great grandfather was responsible for getting the shit pumped out of the River Thames whilst he is responsible for pumping the shit back onto our TV’s) is making a mockery out of society and is breaking up the moral fiber of this country. Fine, Big Brother is great as a social experiment but it turned into a complete freak show. Do people really get turned on by racism, bigotry and violence? 12 people get locked up in a house there is going to be friction. The producers only then show what makes “good television” and the more controversial it is the better. What a load of crap. Channel 4 promptly got bored of it only for it to pop back up like the fattest turd that won’t flush down, on Channel 5. Even though some of these programs might be trying to teach our young people something it is, rather unfortunate as it may be, getting lost in translation. Where are the positive role models on TV?
The system is broken and it needs more than just a sticky plaster to mend it. That is why we need more influential programming on TV. The old pub, café, monetary fallacies ethic these soaps have plugged far too long. It is dated and needs replacing. Society is changing and needs reflecting accurately on television.