Watching television is often like being like Peter Duncan's ill-fated character in Flash Gordon - we are all plunging our hands into the tree-stump maze, hoping not to be attacked by the evil pulsating bladder within; and yet, more often than not, we end up mortally wounded and have to appeal to camper-than-Christmas Timothy Dalton to finish us off with his weapon, pleading: "Spare me the madness!"
OK, so watching television isn't a lot like being Peter Duncan's ill-fated character in Flash Gordon, but you get the general idea. Every now and then you get attacked by something unpleasant, and every now and then you wish that someone would step in and end it all. In the case of Big Brother, which is lurching through its 10th series, I just wish someone would end it rather than me. I've had enough.
has a rather good post on this. It's reached that stage where I just can't bear to look at the programme any more. All the twists and turns have been anticipated long before they've even been dreamt up. All the characters are fairly predictable types. You can even rehearse most of the dialogue before you've even seen it. It offers nothing new or interesting or watchable or fun.
I know for many of you, this is hardly a revelation. A lot of people can't stand the programme anyway, and that's fair enough; but I was one of those who actually quite liked it. I rather enjoyed it down the years, getting to know the tragic inhabitants, picking favourites and wondering who'd win and who wouldn't. But this long, slow death of Big Brother doesn't do anyone any favours. It's time to be kind, buy it an air ticket to Geneva and tell it to pop round to Dignitas to see the nice lady with the lethal injection. It's time, I'm afraid.
This year has been especially unappealing, and it's just exposed the emptiness at the heart of the programme if you can't summon up the empathy. Exactly who are we meant to be rooting for in there? Which of the colossal arses in there is meant to be someone we'd even give a shit about, let alone warm to? I can't stand any of them. Any of them. They're all monstrously arrogant ("I'm quite a big deal" smirked Jack-the clippy-out-of-On-the-Buses-toothed posh Bristolian Bea the other day, without any evidence as to why on earth that might be) and yet feebly equipped for adult life. Is this the same as it's always been? I don't think so.
I just think it marks a point beyond which there's no point in going. Contestants are too savvy to the cameras that you end up with a ridiculous scenario in which people are acting like they don't know or care they're on camera, while actually being all too painfully aware of how they'll be seen or how they'll be edited, fearing the boo of the pantomime crowd on their exit; they despise their fellow housemates who 'play up to the cameras', while knowing that the bit where they accuse them of playing up to the cameras is being filmed and may well be used on the highlights show. It's got to such eating-your-own-arse levels of postmodernism that fuzzy-faced eyes-too-close-together martial arts oddball Marcus regularly rants to Big Brother about what makes good television and what doesn't - but does that make good television?
The trouble is, the contestants are now not really drawn from the general public any more, if they ever were in the first place. They're more likely to come from model agencies or the ever-growing pool of existing reality show contestants than they are to be gurning wannabes who made it through an open audition process. The only way you could rectify that would be to drag in 12 people off the street at random and ask them to be on the show. You'd avoid the knowing attempts to get on the highlights by rowing, fighting, snogging or approximating outrageousness. God knows it might even be better, or at least have some whiff of verisimilitude.
What we're left with is just a bunch of rather smug, tedious student types sharing a pretty colourful hall of residence, attempting to outdo each other and be seen as being the good one, the decent one, the honest one, the truthful one. It's just not fun any more and it's not really believable - much less so than it ever was. Whereas once you might consider suspending your disbelief for an hour a day to watch Big Brother, nowadays you just think: oh, what's the bloody point?
As Peter Duncan said: Spare me the madness. But rather than being dispatched by Timmy Dalton's shiny sword, I think I'll just not bother with Big Bro any more.
- When will this fucking Maddie madness ever end?