Friday, August 28, 2009

The rise of the cretinocracy

Edward Docx writes (subscribers-only) that when listening to the radio in the car – or, presumably, anywhere else – there are more and more phone calls, texts and emails from listeners being featured. So:

you must either endure the misery of 61m atrociously ill-informed opinions; or sit in a solitary silence that is filled only with a feverish internalised loathing for your fellow citizens.

And TV is no better:

All genres of television programme now contain an abysmal segment during which the presenter reads out a series of inane views from variously mad people with an inexplicable surplus of time and self-regard.

I half agree. (And yes, I spend more time than is strictly healthy publicising my own views here.)

While I’m glad to hear that the noxious ‘Big Brother’ is being decommissioned after a final series next year*, I can understand some of the appeal. A lot of us enjoy a good bit of freak-gawping. It’s why I find Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions?’ dreary but ‘Any Answers?’ a guilty pleasure.

* Although I fear that Channel 4 may be acting like the ruined old lush who promises ‘Just one more drink and then I’ll go’. I’d have more confidence in the decommissioning process if an independent body of inspectors could confirm that the programme has been permanently and verifiably put beyond use.

‘Any Questions?’ provides a panel of politicians or other public notables to pontificate on the matters of the day; ‘Any Answers?’ allows anyone possessed of a radio, a telephone and inadequate medication to rant on air. I find that a certain amount of indirect exposure to these undiagnosed lunatics can be amusing, although too much of course can lead to deep existential misery.

But Docx is right: most of the time, I want my media to feature intelligent, interesting, knowledgeable and sane people. The spasms of the cretinocracy should be safely confined to certain designated areas.

I presume that the trend toward quality-uncontrolled audience participation is one of those things that makes media people feel that they’re being more ‘relevant’, ‘accessible’, ‘interactive’, ‘responsive’ and ‘shit’.

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