I’ve had ‘the Englishness of not liking something popular’ written on one of my many notebooks that I don’t really use for about a week. I can’t really remember what I meant, the specific thought train I was on. I mean I know vaguely what I meant. I meant that it feels like the way people dislike popular stuff like, say, The X Factor, seems quintessentially English.
I don’t really have a very wide frame of reference. This is the problem with whether or not this observation holds any meaning or not. Maybe there is a big split in every country between the majority, who like something like The X Factor, and then a superior minority who think the majority are idiots for liking the thing. They, the minority, don’t just not like the popular thing – they DISLIKE the thing and the people who like it. Dislike in a superior way. I don’t like Big Brother therefore it is for idiots, it has no right being on television and people watching it is why Britain is no longer great. That kind of attitude.
The two shows I’ve mentioned have done little more than hold up a mirror to British society. Or at least part of it. And people are quite self-obsessed and want to see themselves, that is why they are watching these shows. And because they are entertaining. Everyone loves a popularity contest. You can say what you want about either show being ‘lowest common denominator’ TV, supposedly reflecting a quick-fix low-brow, unsophisticated society. There doesn’t seem to be much small-mindedness when it comes to voting for a winner of Big Brother or The X Factor though; gender, race, sexuality or religion (or having eyebrows on your cheek, did I ruin the tone? Sorry Susan Boyle) don’t seem to hold back anyone’s chances of winning these programmes – personality or voice (and personality) seems to be all the winners are judged on. If only meritocracy were as rife in all areas of society.
For what it matters I don’t watch The X Factor or Big Brother (anymore). The former because, initially, I don’t like the formula/narrative of people being established “It’s always been my dream to be a singer..and I’ve got cancer..” [cut to parents crying backstage]; and there is a lot of laughing at people who aren’t all there (like I did with the Susan Boyle joke earlier). The latter (Big Brother – keep up) because I don’t like people so much and it is full of people. And while I used to like BB when it had more normal people on it seemed to become a procession of people wanting fame and wealth with no discernible talent. Where are the Sciences? Where are the Bubbles?
Wait a minute? Didn’t I have a go at the haters for not liking something reflecting society? No. I said they proudly and prominently DISLIKED these shows. I just don’t like them, as in neutral. I don’t (actively) like them, nor do I dislike them. If anything I would say, and not mean it, that I liked them both to someone being snobbish about them.
See…this is why it was a note scribbled on a piece of paper that I couldn’t quite recall the reason for writing it down. It was at its peak as scribbled note. That was as good as it got.
Speaking of role models and gender inequality (We weren’t really, Phil…) how shit is the guy’s hair in this M & S advert? And I realise that question has nothing to do with either issue.