What follows is something like a typical scene from the ever popular Jeremy Kyle show – if its enduring appeal mystifies you then consider my theory…………..
“You two don’t have any simple human respect for each other”
“Yes but we came on the show to try and fix….”
“SHUT UP!!! I HAVEN’T FINISHED TALKING AT YOU YET”
“I’m not sure this really was the best forum for trying to reconcile our difficu….”
“I SAID SHUT UP! SHUT YOUR POISONOUS MOUTHS AND LISTEN TO ME!!!!!” BLACK T-SHIRTED HENCHMEN RESTRAIN THEM!!! FORCE THEIR FILTHY MOUTHS CLOSED WHILE I CLIMB UPON MY HIGH HORSE AND EXPATIATE!!!”
Firstly, it doesn’t have to be Jeremy Kyle, you could really put any angry, sneering, self-righteous, disapproving ringmaster into that circus and they would appear, relative to their on-stage participants, well dressed, successful, intelligent and moral.
It’s what we perceive as Kyle’s moral compass that’s meant to link us to him, that connects the audience at home with the audience in the studio and sets us, as a collective, apart from the scrapping sub-human scum on stage. In the real world we know that Jeremy Kyle isn’t any more “moral” than us because he stole from his ex-wife to fund a destructive gambling habit. He met his current wife after she “won” a competition on his radio station to marry a complete stranger – not very surprisingly, this didn’t last. But hey, all that was before he was canonised by ITV to referee human bear baiting – so that’s all right then.
No, it’s the poor people on stage that keep so many tuning in. Poor in every sense of the word. Because here’s the thing: seeing the morally destitute, airing their dirty laundry in front of a studio audience on a daily basis is, for millions, oddly comforting. It plays a very important role in the ongoing pacification of the lowest social strata, because this show and others like it are the social counter-balance for the abiding culture of celebrity.
Consider that comfort is measured by humans in terms of relativity: a billionaire and a homeless person could describe exactly the same bedsit and their perception of its merits would, no doubt, be polarised. Bearing this in mind is important in realising how the satisfaction of a normal person could be adversely affected by continuous media exposure to the social elite: Hello, OK, Cosmopolitan, a plethora of TV shows mistakenly labelled “reality”. Young, beautiful and rich people are constantly paraded before your eyes, people whose concerns appear to be limited to matching stilettos to super-yachts, deciding on the name of their new aftershave or being vocally ungrateful about the contents of their after-show party gift bag. Their ubiquity normalises their concerns and their conduct, even though it bears no resemblance to normal life.
Understandably, if you’ve been lugging-2-kids-and-a-week’s-shopping-back-through-the-rain-because-you-missed-your-bus-because-you-had-to-put-something-back-because-your-benefits-have-been-cut-but-you’re-still-trying-to-not-let-the-kids-know-just-how-close-to-desperate-life-really-is, then reading about Posh’s “struggle” to settle down in Los Angeles could make you feel just a bit unsatisfied with your position in society. When literally anyone can be famous, just for being famous, who is to say what’s normal? Where the focus of the TV and popular press is all about the social elite, the fact that you haven’t shaved your legs yet this year and you won’t be going on holiday again and there is catshit on the front lawn again even though you don’t own a pet, can really put a crimp in your perceived level of comfort. The phenomenon dubbed “status anxiety” means that your perception of your place in society can be drastically affected when you unconsciously reconfigure what is “normal”.
The Jeremy Kyle show, under the guise of helping its victims, shines the spotlight at the gutter rather than the stars, parading the under class of society through your living room and letting you know that, whilst you won’t be going to the Oscars this year, at least you don’t have an electronically tagged son who is stealing from you to pay for his alcoholic girlfriend, who is also your half-sister and your mum, to have a backstreet abortion so she can continue her porn career. It doesn’t matter that the conflict has been carefully orchestrated and edited for your viewing pleasure because all it needs to do is put a smelly and stupid Ronnie Corbett next to your Ronnie Barker to distract you from the well dressed John Cleese.
It re-establishes the norm.
How’s the new regime going?
The “new you” that you promised yourself last year? Not good? Don’t despair! You’re not alone.
Part of what makes it tough is that you’re never quite sure if it’s worth it. Deep down we suspect that life is, in fact, a genetic lottery. You can take the very best care of yourself and still drop dead at forty or you can abuse your body and still be hauling your scraggy carcass around nightclubs well into your sixties. Bruce Lee has been dead for years and Peter Stringfellow is still laughing on his speedboat with his stupid mane of hair and his big grey tits flapping in the breeze…it’s understandably galling. It makes no sense. But the very reason these quirks of nature are so visible is precisely because they shirk expectation. So don’t be fooled – it is still worth it.
And yes it’s hard. Until you actually try to get fit and stay that way you’ll have no concept of how hard, as an adult, it is. No concept mainly because you’ve been misled by magazines. Magazines that promise that you can “drop 2 dress sizes in 2 weeks”. Which of course you “can” – if you have violent dysentery or if you exist on rainwater and your own toenails, but you can’t do it safely, healthily or permanently.
Don’t be fooled by magazines’ supposed examples to prove it’s true. “LOOK EVERYONE here’s healthy happy Kerry Katona doing it and surely she eats food from Iceland”. She’s on the prawn ring / profiteroles diet. Scant weeks later she’ll be back in the same magazine under the headline “Belly Fatona lets herself go – nation fears for her health”
For the magazines it’s a circus, a fairground hall of mirrors which has really nothing to do with health and everything to do with bikinis.
If you’ve had kids it’s even worse:
They’ll have articles about supermodel mothers proclaiming they were back in their size zero jeans a quarter of an hour after giving birth to massive triplets and before the placenta came out: ready to wow the paparazzi and presumably the midwives in tiny blood drenched denim. As if society is really standing in the maternity ward with a stop-watch and a little black dress, desperate to make you feel inadequate. Talk about a “bloody show”.
And it’s just as bad for the boys, worse perhaps because men don’t want to be thin, not really, they want to be “ripped”. Men’s magazines guarantee “a six pack in six days” which is barely enough time to read this article, let alone grow the chiseled abs of He-Man in time for the summer. They’re just SELLING YOU STUFF really, for every decent article on running plans there are a hundred trying to sell you ever bigger jars of creatine or “luminous solar powered GPS sweatbands” or spray-on hair. Page after page of deeply unconvincing before and after pictures. Men who look like they’ve been painted orange and are just “breathing in” alongside their “old selves”. Men who have painted the bald patch with shoe polish and now “get all the girls”.
And although we can laugh at the obviousness of this trick the glossy magazines are doing exactly the same thing – only better.
And when you realise that it can’t be done as quickly as you’d hoped it can take the wind out of your sails. So there is a period of adjustment where you have to realign your expectations, where you realise that unless you do it slowly and sensibly it can never be a permanent thing, that actually it’s not about a concentrated effort in order to look good for a specific occasion but it’s a change of lifestyle forever. Or at least a good long time. For that you need the support of friends and the advice of people that have done it.
As far as I’m concerned the best thing you can do is reduce your intake of processed rubbish and stop buying these magazines.
I have always refrained from writing about Richard Littlejohn basically because I don’t know where to start. I tend to try and avoid his awful column because for one thing, I like to look after my blood pressure, and for another thing I am never quite sure if he is real. I mean, is he not some sick parody the Daily Mail have concocted for us to make us froth at the mouth?
But there comes a point when even sticking both fingers in my ears and shouting “la la la” isn’t enough to help me switch off from something he has written.
Will just go back a step.
-pretty much anything that a woman does;
-socialists and communists and anything else that can be construed as being slightly left wing;
-people who make use of the welfare state and claim benefits of almost any kind;
…should I go on?
The Express is similar – I smiled to see that they believe themselves to be leading a “crusade” against the EU. I wonder if they would be so willing to use this word so lightly if they revised their history.
The Daily Mail hates France, unless they are talking about the parts the middle class expats enjoy. Its columnists like to refer to Sarkozy as a dwarf like Napoleon and they like to go on, and on, about how the French surrendered during the war. No, not the recent wars. We’re talking about the one which finished well over 60 years ago. They have recently taken up German bashing too.
But on the 18th November Richard Littlejohn surpassed himself, writing a very bad rhyme about both the French and Germans, but mainly the Germans. Here it is if you can stomach it. It is accompanied by a shocking cartoon, depicting Merkel among others goose-stepping. Basically inferring, under a veil of humour, that the Germans and EU are akin to the Nazis.
I have had to re-read it several times, which has been so painful on very many levels. I don’t understand how people can agree with him, and I don’t understand how he got paid to write such inflammatory crap. Although it’s supposed to be humour there is a very nasty undertone. Glee at economic worries? Veiled references to the war? Incitement of hatred, and fear of our neighbours? Tick tick tick.
I am actually full of admiration for Germany. Not at all for what happened during the war, of course, but how they have rebuilt themselves since. I was in Frankfurt recently – stayed overnight, had dinner at a restaurant and used the airport. I was so impressed, once again, with the people and the efficiency. They are so welcoming, so kind. One bloke on the bus appointed himself our tourist guide, although he didn’t speak brilliant English – he just wanted to point out the things he was proud of. Isn’t that great?
Another guy struck up conversation in the restaurant – he was stuck overnight with his tour group as his flight was cancelled. Did he complain? No, he just took it in his stride. No-one else in the group was heard to complain either. They just raised their eyebrows and laughed it off. It was refreshing. Can you imagine the grumps in a British airport hotel if a large group of people were stuck there when they wanted to be in Cuba?
So why is the press so anxious to stir up not so recent history and encourage its readers to hate, or be fearful, of our nearest neighbours? What is the point? Who does it help? And why oh why are they allowed to print such inflammatory stuff? Free press yes. Racist press, no thanks. The same article adapted to be about a minority group would be quite rightly slammed across the board.
So why is it still acceptable to be racist against the Germans and French? Covering up racism with a light sheen of humour (though if anyone really finds it funny then I will despair of my mother country) is wrong.
Living in France as I do, it is when articles like this come out that I am ashamed to be British, because thanks to the world wide web these types of articles are picked up on and translated, and even in France when journalists mention the Daily Mail they do so with a sneer. The fact that it is such a popular website does nothing for our already pretty tarnished reputation abroad – they are starting to believe that we are all like that, but last time I looked Britain and its people are tolerant and welcoming.
The Daily Mail likes to huff and puff about ‘political correctness gone mad’. Their recent articles on Europe show that they believe that vile rants about our allies are acceptable and to be encouraged. I hope the rest of the country isn’t listening to them, because articles such as this one by Richard Littlejohn aren’t politically incorrect (said with a smile and a wink). They are inflammatory, racist and bigoted.
We have a lot to learn from our European neighbours. It appears that tolerance is one thing. And, if this is considered humour, I would say that Richard Littlejohn could learn something about sense of humour from the Germans.