We all hate Jeremy Kyle.
I hate him partly for using the residual symptoms of poverty and inequality to berate people, and partly because he’s a chinless woman-hater, in a Burton suit, who has marketed himself as some sort of problem-solver, or absolute voice of truth (“Hey, I’m just being honest…), when of course truth is never an absolute. And if it were, I’m fairly confident it wouldn’t screech and snarl its way through misogynist judgements on teenage girls.
As much as I hate Kyle, though – and I really fucking do – at least his brand is fairly transparent.
What is really starting to irk me is the formulaic, sensationalism dressed as sensitive intellectualism, of the Channel 4 Documentary.
Whether we are watching Islamic Fundamentalists and The EDL battle it out on the streets of Bradford, or obese and anorexic people swap diets… Whether we are watching the gypsy and traveller teens struggle into weighty wedding dresses and dance to Rihanna, or watching disabled people (referred to as “Undateables”) pursuing sexual relationships; it’s all retold in exactly the same way.
We have a condescending narrator. Despite the fact that it dresses up as a “sensitive portrayal”; it nearly always focuses on sensationalist elements – such as the hemlines on the gypsy girl dresses, or very huge people in underwear. There’s always some sort of conclusion, which is normally punctuated by a meaningful soundtrack by Elbow.
Channel 4 used to be good. It went hand-in-hand with the Guardian, delivering an alternative perspective. Tackling issues, in a balanced and non-uniform way. Essentially though, it now has the same horrible sort of “let’s-gawp-at-difference” agenda that Kyle has. It’s worse, because it has some intellectual gravitas.
But you can tell it’s the same sort of shite, when the next day at work people come in saying “Did you see the state of that gypsy’s wedding dress?”, or “How huge was that lad on that programme?”
That’s the barometer.
Are people coming away from those programmes with any sort of increased awareness, empathy or understanding about disability, or the life of a traveller, or the emotional distress caused by obesity? I would argue not.
These London media types making these shitty programmes need the tables turning. I propose a documentary about Shoreditch cunts, exploiting difference for entertainment:
The show will revolve around Sophie, a mid-thirties girl about town. Working part-time for a production company while looking for love. A recreational drug user, she has been trying to get Pedro – a white Rastafarian from Winchester – to commit, for four years. She has a cat named Incupuss. And speaks, with a rising inflection at the end of every sentence, rendering all of her statements, question-like.
She’s best pals with Paul, a documentary runner. He is slightly overweight and is really into grime music and 1950’s film. He might be gay. He’s been exploring this avenue for four years, but doesn’t want to cause upset with his family. They’re not even arsed.
Then they have to live in an ex coal-mining village in North Durham. With no internet connection.
It’s the story of the challenges they face, as they try to come to terms with a village without real coffee.
It’ll be sensitively done.