Dumb Down TV
43 3.3 3.81. Big Brother: UK (2000)
To me, Big Brother was a watershed - a bad one. It was the advent of non thinking, lazy mans, politicians dream tv. It was popcorn eating, Sun reading heaven. Sit back and watch people talk crap, put on a show and make a career out of it whilst forgetting about global climate change, wars, poverty or why you earn 1000 x less than your boss.
I still cant fathom for the life of me, how it was so popular and is proof; that people enjoy not thinking or being a vegetable and that we hand the powerful of the world a right to rule undemocratically.
Dumb Down TV at Listal
Stephen Fry sums this up here in a article about dumb down tv: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1287141/Stephen-Fry-hits-dumbing-television--accuses-BBC-focusing-childrens-programming.html
144 3.3 3.72. The Jerry Springer Show (1991)
The birth of the same elements found in big Brother and X Factor in the form of TV tabloidism. Again working on the principles of: intellectual escapism/laziness, clever marketing, people manipulation and visual theatrics. All adding up to a tv culture that prevents people looking at the context of their life problems in relation to the state, government, politics and inequalty.
It also held up the very American value that now pervades politics and society in Europe, that people should be responsible for their own lives, decisions and outcomes without any help. (and the idea nobody can help them - which is a political topic, ultimately).
The Jeremy Kyle show, much more recently in the UK follows this format with a British version (I will add this soon).
Popular, because it was comical, animated with colourful, vivid chracters that people could mock, laugh at or hate. A modern day Pantomine.
I remember watching episodes while I was an undergrad in the nineties and finding it hilarious.
But, no matter how funny, it took peoples attention away from things that matter (9/11, Bush, growing debt, a dying economy).
3 6.5 63. Dallas: War of the Ewings (1998)
1978 - Present. After much thought (some may beg to differ) but I have tracked back the instances of very popular, American Soaps that have made it big in the UK and Dallas seemed to be the first big one. It was incredibly popular; even my overly critical mother used to tune in to 'see the dresses'.
It sold an American dream vision of glamour, money , success built outside the boundaries of social class and priviledge and appealed to a newly forming Thatcherite society in the UK.
Meanwhile, making many forget that again, very few people find success in this way!
It seemed to lead the way (I appreciate the Americans on here will hate this) to a whole new appreciation for American sit coms and soaps, for which I mostly dislike for the reasons I state in this list.
129 5.4 4.44. The X Factor (2004)
The loathesome, false and insincere, Simon Cowells clever, money making creation. He has masterfully created a show that works on what I have described above for Big Brother. He works on the premise that people are intellectually lazy and want to watch engineered theatrics and then believe the most talented have been selected. And people do, still watch this. Its launched the careers of people that fit this mould too. Cheryl Cole is just another example of someone who fits this bill.
I recognise that Talent shows have long existed and that to some extent, all talent shows are 'managed' or manipulated, but this takes it to a new level that symbolises modern society: fast turn over, maximum profit, visual impact, marketing populism.
Sting has summarised the 'talent' issue with this show:
Jarvis Cocker, never one to shy away from controversy has also slammed the show over a lack of talent and emptiness:
10 4 6.95. Eurotrash (1993)
Pulling in an audience with its famous duo of Antione De Caunes and designer, Jean Paul Gaultier, the show made an art form out of presenting crap. Articles and bulletins on magicians, nudity and nudist camps, porns stars.
It was a mish mash of articles with no real resonance or message.
Again, appealing to the lowest common denominator, it was lazy tv.
26 5.5 46. GMTV (1993)
A very popular morning tv show, using the tabloid format of mixing non high brow news with celebrity tit bits of gossip, fashion and lifestyle articles, film and music 'reviews' using the visual tactic of attarctive tv presenters (Ulrika Johnson -weather, Fiona Phillips) to lighten it all up in contrast to the traditional British way of presenting news (bbc).
It is in this dumbing down list for several reasons. It again perpetuates and helped reinforce, even take forward the idea that people are only interested in reading and watching crap and that real issues are not for everyday people.
It also started off a more worrying trend, that only female tv preenters who were Blonde, pretty and under 40 could work in tv. Recent trends have shown how women over 50 are eliminated from reading the news, and presenting tv (Moira Stewart)?.
9 5.8 6.37. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (2002)
Dumbing down presented as 'the normal persons Mastermind'. Again clever tv, as they know Joe Bloggs in the street will watch a show where he gets most of the questions right and will feel 'I could do this and win' (lottery psychology).
It is another show that follows the Big Brother style, dumb down format. Believe that despite strong, overwhelming evidence that you will never make or get your hands on a million,that you have a chance or people like you, do! We dont. 1-2% of the worlds rich control 95%+ of the worlds wealth. It stops people thinking about their own reality of poverty or inequality and that for most, theres sod all we can do about it.
Winners were clearly pre determined or manipulated: Five contestants have won £1,000,000: Judith Keppel (20 November 2000), David Edwards (21 April 2001), Robert Brydges (29 September 2001), Pat Gibson (24 April 2004), and Ingram Wilcox (23 September 2006). In a celebrity couples special (which was screened on 11 February 2006), one pair, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and his wife, Jackie Llewelyn-Bowen answered the final question incorrectly, losing £468,000. However, the question was later discovered to be flawed, and the pair were invited back to the show with their £500,000 reinstated. Upon their return, the couple were presented with a new £1 million question but this time chose to walk away.
Its marketing and approach has duped countries across the world, all with their own versions of this. On a different note, the wonderful film: Slumdog Millionaire, made a mockery of the show and showed up how it really works whislt highlighting poverty and slum culture in India.
19 6.2 6.78. The Big Breakfast (1992)
A pre runner to GMTV, but setting the trend for crap in the mornings and pretty people disguising the real news or encouraging people not to watch it. Ive nothing against Johnny Vaughn or Denise Van Outen, etc..both are witty people, but the show as a vehicle was another cog in the wheel of dumbing down.
Paula Yates and her bed interviews, articles on wacky, irrelevant stuff, and two minutes snippets of the news read on the hour.
40 5.3 4.59. I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! (2002)
Another in a long line of these 'reality' style programmes using the same pro forma as Big Brother. Shock tactics (eating insects to continue), a voting procedure to cash in and get people to tune in again to get results, conflicts and love ins (people fighting and people getting it on). Celebrities trying to re boot or launch careers and meanwhile, young people are voting less and less in general and local elections than ever and politics continues to become 'disconnected' from young peoples lives. These shows are part of this.
4 6.3 6.410. The Jonathan Ross Show (2011)
Once again, I've no doubt Jonathan Ross is witty and on the ball, but this show never really gets under the skin of the people on it. Surface questions, not revealing, interesting, thought provoking or real. Another commercial way for stars to promote films, books, etc.
15 4 3.211. The Real Housewives of Orange County (2006)
Just awful, awful. When I flicked over through my never ending supply of freeview channels the other day I came across programme after programme about the 'Housewives of this , that and the other'. This is 2012 and yet still, this is being held up as womens roles, being the 'housewife of such and such'.
Spending a life living off your husbands earnings and spending it on nails, hair, plastic surgery' with well acted out bitch scenes among the women for impact.
Its again, going for the lowest common denominator. Using women to portray women in a sterotypical way. Also, it semds the same message as the likes of TOWIE, that you dont need to think or do anything real with your life to be a success.
5 6.6 4.212. The Jeremy Kyle Show (2005)
Following in the steps and style of Jerry Springer, this show has received a lot of media attention in the UK. Its a chat show where a rather aggressive presenter (Jeremy Kyle) winds up the panel members who for some bizarre, narcisstic or fame seeking reason will bare all the sordid and private details of their lives to an unreasoned and mobbish audience. Once again, all pre designed, manipulated and mostly false to drag in viewiers and shock or anger people.
It also works on populist themes such as 'benefit scrounging' porn addiction' 'extra martial affairs', Teenage pregnancies and underage sex' that will guarantee the Daily Mail contingent will also jump on board.
Once again, it serves its cultural control purpose of allowing people to play the blame game and tell people its their responsibility for their life errors, misfortunes, rather than looking at wider societal and political factors.
6 4.3 3.313. The Only Way Is Essex (2010)
Another show in a long list of shows about the lives of nobodies. Again, its holding up this false culture, that anyone can make a career or money out of anything, whether its plastic surgery addiction, lip fillers, boob jobs or clothes. I have nothing againts tv following real lives, but these are not real, they are created and hyped to allow showbiz execs to find new people to market.
I dislike these shows particularly from a Feminist perspective as they do not provide a real model for girls to work towards. They tell young people that age old stereotypes about what men and women should look like are what you need to adhere to, to get on. In reality of course; girls need an education and need to fight patriarchy and glass ceilings to make a success in the world.
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