Television’s Argument For Eugenics

Media, Observatory

Laughing at working class people has always been popular on British television, but ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ takes it to a new level, making ‘Jersey Shore’ look like ‘Don Giovanni’. Of course, these rubber-breasted robots and their knuckledragging mates don’t think they’re working class – they’ve got the vulgarity of the middle classes, so how could they be?

It’s fascinating stuff because it’s so hilariously contradictory. First, there’s the ‘docu-soap’ label, which here means ‘scripted for non-actors’. Anyway, as the Independent On Sunday pointed out, reality TV is basically YouTube for people who don’t like computers.

Then there’s the title – was there meant to be a pun in it? The most fabulously stupid member of the cast is the torpid plankton-brained Amy, who does something with hair or nails, I’m not sure. So dim that she sometimes seems to lose the power of speech altogether, she appears to have been carved from orange soap and has the thought processes of a crustacean.

Last week’s episode featured a pub quiz in which someone asked if a matador was a man who cleans mats, but is this the scriptwriters making working class people look extra stupid or did the comment originate in the cast’s own frosted-pink mouths?

Let’s not even go near the men, who seem filled with barely concealed hatred and are about to balloon into signet-ring covered middle age. The trend for faked-up ‘point and laugh’ shows is a depressing example of ITV’s lost way. If everyone in the West now thinks of themselves as middle class, who are we meant to be making fun of?

6 comments on “Television’s Argument For Eugenics”

  1. Alan says:

    My (recent) ex-girlfriend is Essex born and bred – so I’m saying nothing.

  2. Andy says:

    They used to let people into the lunatic asylums for their edification and entertainment. One might, just, justify shows like this on the grounds of “If you don’t go to school, study hard and broaden your horizons you will end up like this”. Unfortunately the majority of people who do watch this show will do so because it’s “People like us tellin’ it like it is, innit!”

    For some reason, being “onna telly” is the single greatest accomplishment people like this can conceive of, so shows like this play to that, showing that no matter how completely talentless, inconsequential and generally moronic you are, you too could still have a show devoted to you and be a “star”.

    Sigh. I’m applying for Martian citizenship.

  3. Mike Carrington says:

    Bread and circuses dear Admin, bread and circuses. Anyhoo, we’re all on the telly now. I seem to remember an article that said we are the most watched population in the western hemisphere with all our cctv cameras. In a shameless plug for an excellent musician (with whom I am not financially connected!) there’s even a song about it….

    One Nation (Under CCTV) by BISHI | Song | Free Music,

  4. I.A.M. says:

    Part of that video reminds me of the phrase which is the only cause of blind panic when I visited the UK for the second time: “Are you all right?”

    In North America, this is typically delivered in a shouty voice whilst rushing at the person to whom it is addressed, who is either covered in blood or no longer has one of their major limbs fully attached. Clearly the answer in this situation is “no, you idiot; I’m covered in blood / mo longer in possession of all of my limbs!”

    In the UK, however, the phrase is delivered in an offhand way which equals the intended understanding of the question, akin to: How are you / you’re doing all right in general / no complaints for you then?

    More than once I had to resist the urge to cautiously say “yes, *I* am all right… are *you* all right?” fearing the answer to be “no, I’m a raving axe-murderer, mate!”

  5. Helen Martin says:

    I do not have trouble with most people from Lancashire/Yorkshire (don’t want to leave out either one, it’s dangerous), never had trouble in London, Bath, Bristol or Edinburgh, but 90% of the above was unintelligible to this colonial ear. It felt like My Fair Lady and sounded as if none of them had ever heard of consonants. Either that or they all had frozen jaws. Where are these people from? Surely not Essex?

  6. On a related topic, French TV recently aired a TV reality show so crass, dumb and vapid that they had to cancel it after two episodes due to a lack of viewers. The mind boggles, considering some of the spectacular crap that still enjoys brisk ratings.

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