This Wednesday winge is a call to boycott the cooking shows, the renovating shows, and the squawking shows.
Now, I have been accused of being arrogant before. People may have even called me sanctimonious, out of touch, and hard to get to know. But on this one I am spot on: from our politics to our popular entertainment we are drowning feelpinions.
Since well before Richard Burton returned from his exotic adventures in the nineteenth century and published 43 books for an eager British public Western culture has always been obsessed with celebrity and celebrity opinions. Then, as now, a unique story sells. At some point early this century, television producers realised the chasm between content and advertisement could be dissolved by presenting real people doing amazing things using/engaging/making/creating/selling the product – being the product. Rather than make expensive TV shows to sell advertising, it is easier to make a cheaper TV show to present products that appeal to an aspirational public. Everyone wants a designer kitchen, a designer meal, a designer house, a designer lifestyle, a 6-pack, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, and the farmer wants a root. It is a perfect opportunity to sell a desiring public something nice by presenting ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
These shows have created the reality star, someone who is famous for being, well, famous. The reality star will earnestly talk about how they feel about a seemingly mundane situation, what’s going through their minds, how they may have missed something, how they are a strategic genius second only to Sun Tsu, and about how they love everyone. Well, everyone except the balding bloke with glasses. No one really gets him.
It shits me.
Now I haven’t totally forgotten about Roland Barthes and the entire post-modern nothingness where everything is relative and may or may not be, or maybe both. I know what that twentieth century bore Warhol said about fame and 15 minutes. I know I shouldn’t be enamoured of power. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, or even feel like I can have a legitimate winge about reality television. But it shits me, it really shits me. What shits me most is that the opinion maker, the thought leader, the philosopher has been democratised. Anyone can have a profound impact on the world and how people perceive themselves. All it takes is that you struggle with a complex macaroon cake recipe or try and renovate an en-suite in front of a camera. Oh, and perhaps have a cry.
Once, the opinion makers and philosophers had to have done something and been something. Now all they need is an arse-hole. There’s no room for debate, genuine conflict about ideas, or a exploration of a magical journey with no clear goal. Need to know how to date a woman, get a job, or make an impact? All you need to do is turn on the telly and find out what someone feels about it. Even our politics is based on feelpinions not thought. Tony Abbott opposes a gay marriage because it feels wrong, not because of good sense.
Sadly, social media has contributed to the great flowering of moronic stupidity. Anyone with a computer or smart phone, me included, can contributed a whole load of bullshit and feel worldly and important for a few seconds. It feels good to feel. It feels good to feel important. It feels good to feel an opinion. The redeeming feature of social media is that the stupid always get caught out saying something vile and their opinions get dumped where they belong.
Pick up a book.
The Wednesday winge is where I have an irrational and often annoying winge about whatever is on my mind at the time.