Thursday, 17 June 2010

The oscitant and the desperate

My first entry. Given that this is likely to be dominated by my thoughts on football and complaints about the banality of modern culture, I guess I'd better start with one that does both. The World Cup has finally got interesting - all those first games played by teams desperate not to lose are over at last, and Uruguay last night finally showed everybody else that it's actually OK to try to attack and score goals, it won't kill you lads, honest, as they succeeded where FIFA and everybody else had failed, and silenced the vuvuzela.

However dull many of the first round games were, though, I'll say one thing for all of them. Yes, even the Portugal/Ivory Coast 'match'. At least they're not Big Brother. One of the main joys about the start of the tournament is that, even if you're not into football, you can't avoid it, so it completely overwhelmes everything else. I have, wonderfully, not heard anybody utter a word about that wretched exercise in self-preening, self-regarding, self- self- self- bloody self shite on Channel 4, which I believe, mercifully, is coming to an end this year.

I couldn't tell you a single thing about any of the contestants of either this or any of the last 7 or 8 series, and the thing is, unless you're one of those oddballs whose idea of entertainment is watching a collection of solipsists leading even more banal lives than our own, having ever duller conversations about ever thinner subjects than we do, then neither can you.

That's the thing about Big Brother. With a few exceptions, everybody on it has disappeared back into the obscurity they came from. The only difference between them and me (and probably you), is that I don't want to be on telly, delude myself I'm famous or miss the bloody World Cup. How does that make them watchable? What discernible talent or interest do they have that holds people's attention? Apparently, just being on there makes them watchable and, by extension, famous. They, and Big Brother generally, are the absolute standard bearers, the very epitome of the utterly vacuous, utterly banal, entirely self-generating circus of 'celebrity' that so many, bewilderingly, seem to have an interest in.

I did actually think the first one or two series had moments of interest, and some small merit as a social experiment. By about series three though, it was already beginning to fill with the oh-so-knowing desperates who see it as a route to fame, so I gave up on it entirely. I ask this as a genuine question, because I freely admit to not having seen any of it for a number of years, but has anybody heard any of the contestants hold a conversation about anything of substance or moment, indeed, about anything going on outside the house? They're in there and seem to think it's the entire world and, most horrifyingly, when they come out, they're met with a sub-cultural frenzy which encourages the delusion that they were right.

I even think the Celebrity Big Brother (how ironically titled, given the nature of the 'standard' Big Brother and its contestants) has some merit, a couple of days of ennui quickly stripping away the sparkly but gossamer-thin veneer of fame that they all seem to coat themselves with.

So, nowadays, they're on Big Brother, therefore they're in those magazines, the bastard offspring of Hola that feed off it and similar carcasses, so they think they're famous. Well, in the strictly modern interpretation of fame, I suppose they are. For a few weeks, next year's Big Brother intake wannabees know who they are. Then they're gone - as inconsequential and insubstantial as the medium which spawned them.

So, thankfully, this year's is (we're told, I'm not counting my chickens until it's clear nobody else has picked it up) the last BB, and nobody seems to have even noticed. It's been subsumed by the World Cup. I realise that there are plenty of people out there who reserve the same antipathy for football and regard the World Cup entirely as I do BB. I'll come to that later I suspect. But consider this. Can you see an already simmering and bitter relationship descend into outright war over Honduran Federico 'dissing' Salvadorean Juanqui in the El Gran Hermano diary room? No. Neither can I.

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