We all know lots of people who hate reality television, because they feel it affords them – by the very rejection of it – a certain intellectual gravitas…
“Ugh, how can you watch this shit?” they sneer, as you chuck the remote control at their condescending fucking faces.
The answer is of course, you watch it because, whilst you appreciate this is a staged and often scripted reality, edited and -in many cases – directed toward a conclusion that ultimately reinforces patriarchal, capitalist hegemony, you really want to see the fragility of humanity reflected back at you so you feel less repulsed by yourself and, ultimately, less alone.
Plus you really like watching people twat each other.
But while the Anti-Reality TV crowd – much like the Anti-McDonalds crowd – are miserable, obsessive, neo-liberal twats, there’s no denying they do have a bit of a point.
X Factor’s become unwatchable.
There’s nothing I love more than watching a Fish Factory worker from Dudley have their dreams dashed after a four-minute sob story about how their dead granddad wanted them to make it past boot camp more than he wanted to recover from a terminal illness, but all the fun has been taken out of dream-bashing by having to watch Cheryl Cole try to squeeze a tear out after a particularly sketchy version of “Get Here if You Can.”
Last week reached new levels of bore after Simon Cowell (replete with three-day-old-bloated-corpse face) kept making hilarious gags about how a woman was the “twin” of Cheryl Cole, because she’d worn a Cole-esque outfit and was singing Cole’s hit singles (I’m using the word “hit” here very loosely). And Cole had a sort of “I’ll allow Simon to take the piss here, because I’m clearly spectacularly attractive and an all-round superior human to this woman…” expression as we mocked said elder woman who couldn’t sing, but otherwise didn’t really resemble Cole. But let’s not forget we’re only a decade on since Cole was doing Community Service for drunkenly assaulting a nightclub toilet assistant, so let’s not start queuing for our Damehood just yet, cocker.
And there is something very odd about a load of poor people watching a load of poor people being ridiculed by several decidedly unworthy rich people.
Jeremy Kyle, for instance. That’s a rum state of affairs, isn’t it?
He hates every woman that he encounters, unless he finds them attractive and when he does his surmising of the domestic dispute is that the fella involved “Cannot believe his luck, landing someone like her…”
He stands, surrounded by eighteen stone bodyguards, screaming, “I’m not scared of you, mate!!”as spittle flies out of his angry body, shrouded in an ill-fitting Burton suit.
“Get a jobbbb!” screams professional oppressor Kyle, as he’s handed those “all-important DNA test results.” A sentiment that is resolutely echoed by the rest of us as we observe the jumped-up little shit in action.
This bear-baiting thing has been raised before, I’m adding nothing new. But it’s not the actual bear-baiting that most repulses me. I can read between the lines. I know my own political position. I know that I’ve never hated a single Jeremy Kyle guest with the same ardent fervor that I despise Kyle himself, and nor will I.
But, what has really prompted my break up with reality television, more than even X Factor and the insufferable Kyle (I can’t watch Kyle) was the recent series of Celebrity Big Brother.
Actually, not the whole series, because I just dipped in and out.
But there’s a certain scene that plays out on nearly every reality television show that involves romance and relationships. And that is the concept of the Reality TV Pricktease.
The Reality TV Pricktease – much like her better-known cousin, Common or Garden Pricktease – doesn’t actually exist, of course.
The idea that attractive young women (they tend to be young and attractive) spend their days constructing a situation in which they want a man to feel he is definitely going to have penetrative intercourse with them, in order to willfully and deliberately refrain from said intercourse in a bid to… what? …Humiliate? …Subjugate? …Irritate said man? is as mythical as it is ridiculous.
The reason it serves us in wider society is because we all want to fuck the person we want to fuck, and society is weighted in favour of men. We live in a world in which men are more willing to say, “This woman doesn’t want to fuck me because SHE has a problem” (in this case a frankly laughable strategy to want him to fuck her, so she can cruelly refute his advances), than, “This woman doesn’t want to fuck me because I might not be particularly fuckable to her.”
Variations of this “Pricktease” problem occur on every Reality TV show (Geordie Shore, TOWIE, Big Brother, Real Housewives of Barrow-in- Furness etc) in nearly every possible permeation at some point, but this recent Big Brother thing just tipped the scales for me.
In this series, it was about some mid-twenties girl from TOWIE who had snogged some mid-twenties lad from Geordie Shore who apparently “really liked her.”
This resulted in loads of conversations, some of which were initiated by older FEMALE members of the house saying, “It could look a bit like you were leading him on…”
Leading him on for WHAT?!
What the girl involved tried to assert, but was slightly too thick to do properly, was that she fancied him at one point so she had a flirt, but then she stopped fancying him.
AND THAT’S THE FUCKING NATURE OF SEXUAL AGENCY.
On a more serious point, this is what people miss about some instances of rape (cue outraged responses that i likened Celebrity Big Brother to rape and that I want to chop dicks off and ‘why do these feminists want equal wages but they still want flowers?’ shite.)
We should be teaching women that if you fancy someone and then stop fancying them – for WHATEVER FUCKING REASON WHATSOEVER – that’s perfectly legitimate.
Further, flirt with who the fuck you want to for as long as you want to, and your future intentions – romantic or sexual – are completely legitimate and entirely up to you and flirting is not a precursor to ANYTHING.
I was genuinely watching women over 30 tell a woman under 30 on British Television in 2014 that she “wasn’t being fair” on some absolute half-wit, because “he really liked her.”
I heard the words, “Poor Ricky…” (Ricky is the half-wit’s name).
Poor Ricky got to have a snog with someone he really fancied, but she doesn’t want to snog him again.
Let’s do a charity gig.
The implication being that it’s unfair to kiss someone if they fancy you, unless the kissing is a precursor to intercourse or a relationship, or unless the kiss signified a mutual attraction.
I don’t know the reasons why one woman would even come to the conclusion that another woman is a Pricktease, because a Pricktease is a less convincing concept than The Loch Ness Monster.
What could one possibly gain from being a Pricktease? Perhaps we’re buying into this idea that because society has commodified women and reduces them to their aesthetic sexual worth that when women flirt with a man they may gain certain financial or emotional privileges from said man. But what this does is suggest that the man in the situation has either a) gained pleasure from the flirtation – in which case, everyone’s a winner, or he has b) assumed the flirtation releases the woman from her own sexual agency, which is pretty sinister.
So why, instead of sitting him down and saying, “She’s using you mate…” or sitting her down and saying, “Stop flirting with half-wit because he fancies you and you’re leading him on”, weren’t the conversations with him saying, “Wayhey you fancied her and she snogged you, you gormless dickhead! Don’t think she wants to shag you though, so stop moping and acting like she is obliged to because it’s 2014, she can do what the fuck she wants with her face and body, and let’s face it mate, you’re fairly unfuckable’?
I’m going to teach my male progeny that if a girl straddles your dick and then decides she wants to get off, be pleased about the dick straddle and look forward to an era where a woman’s fanny is her own.
And while I do appreciate Reality TV is a staged and often scripted reality, edited and -in many cases – directed toward a conclusion that ultimately reinforces patriarchal, capitalist hegemony and I really want to see the fragility of humanity reflected back at me so I feel less repulsed by myself and, ultimately, less alone; it actually made me feel more repulsed with myself for watching, and I felt infinitely more alone.