Saturday, June 28, 2008

This celebrity binge? Pure trash...

...and why a diet of bad television and shit magazines can have short, medium and long-term effects.

Physical laziness is an integral part of human nature. And it's not always that bad. Think of the appeal of an evening spent slouching around, arse firmly stuck to the settee, watching a DVD as you stuff down high-calorie food and a few drinks. Aware of the pitfalls of an existence outlining Wayne and Waynetta Slob's, we're constantly reminded of the importance of healthy eating, 5-a-day, exercising and doing sports.

Intellectual idleness follows the same pattern. Although having your mind floating about can also be insidiously pleasurable (to the point that you don’t even see it happening), the 5-a-day adverts or government schemes on the subject are notable by their absence. The articles you read become shorter and shorter and the pictures in the magazines that you buy get bigger and bigger. The stuff you watch on telly has got more and more premium numbers to call and votes to send and the celebrities stuck in that jungle become increasingly hilarious…Suddenly you know by heart Big Brother Chanelle's sexual CV while Lee v Alex on The Apprentice give you sleepless nights.

Until one day you find that using your brain becomes a dreadfully tedious proposition, the equivalent of your dad asking you to hold those wall-brackets up for 10 minutes while he's mounting the shelving unit. Huff. Something to shrink away from at all costs.

Why pick up a book if you can flick through Heat, Star, Closer, Reveal, More, Now (Zoo or Nuts if you like extra inches of naked flesh) and look at big photographs? Isn't an image of a wasted Sarah Harding all over a bloke much easier on the eye than a couple of sentences strung together by some Chilean writer you've never heard of?

And why should you bother with those long, complex, arsy articles that pad those "intellectual" broadsheets when you can get The Sun or the Daily Star which are a right larff, and whose nipples on display are larger than any of the articles? Why watch those late-night programmes that go on about wars, the economy and question time and only interview people who pronounce every "t"? Big Brother 12, Britain's Got Talent, tits, gossip and sex scandals are all much more entertaining.

First, there's the social acceptability factor. "Politics, current affairs, opinion columns, the news…they're all just so totally boring". You learnt it a long time ago and no-one's going to bully you for that. You automatically picked up that it's quite a cool thing to say, especially because everyone but maybe the geeks repeated it at every turn. Or think of the fag-break at work. They’re all gossiping about last night's Celebrity Freak Show and Jordan's new acrylic body part and there's a lively debate over whether that would make the celebrity's 25th or 26th set of implants. Do you really want to be left out?

And what the fuck is this credit crunch, anyway? Boooooring. I'll get me celeb/tits magazines and even though it's just a fiver, can I pay by Visa by any chance (and hope it doesn’t get declined)?

No doubt some trendy high-priests of proto-intellectualism will dismiss it all by arguing that the best thing about "celebrity culture" is that you can always switch the telly off and that no-one's forcing you to buy celebrity magazines. After all, the cultural version of double chocolate cake and supersized burgers & chips is just harmless fun.

There are, instead, short, medium and long-term side effects of a market saturated in in-yer-face mediocrity and triviality.

It's this same "bad intellectual diet" that makes it possible for the government to send your best mate to Afghanistan while you think that he's going "to fight for our country against the long-bearded ones" and that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 (come on, let's have it!).

It's this cerebral dearth that dampens the indignation towards sky-high house prices and rising income inequality.

It's this KFC of brains that makes it routine for your manager at the call centre to tell you that chances are they may be relocating and half of you won't be needed at all next week - and she can do it because none of you are on a contract.

It's this junk-for-thought that can make your gas, water and electricity bills routinely go up, in the style of Cristiano Ronaldo's ego, and in a state of total impunity.

And it's the same bad diet that makes it possible for councils to collect your rubbish once a fortnight while your Council tax reaches aberrant levels and hundreds of thousands of pounds are lavished on the Luxembourgian Festival in Victoria Square.

So it's true, this celebrity binge is bliss. For those who pull the strings.


Faust said...

brilliant article. I agree. People are being fed so much crap - especially in the last few years. but what irks me is those who say 'its what the public wants', which is not true at all.

If what you call the celebrity binge is the only thing on the menu then of course people are going to gorge on it.

Anonymous said...

can you blame them though when they say they'd rather keep their head buried under the sand? Would it make any difference...? i dont think so!

Paul Doncaster said...

but don't you think African countries would be better poised to intervene? Why is it that it's always the US or the UK who are expected to stick their nose in and then get loads of stick when it turns messy?

If other African countries really care for the plight of their Zimbabwean brothers now it's the right time to get their backside into gear.