Celebrity Schadenfreude. I’m a TV Viewer. . . Get Me Out Of Here!

ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity. . .Get Me Out Of Here’ is, mercilessly, the shortest of the reality TV formats, being over in three-weeks. However it’s showing all the signs of its wearied sibling (Big Brother). At first it was all about ‘the jungle’ but with each season, the so-called bush-tucker trials become increasingly further removed from ‘the real world’. What started off as fun show has now become grotesquely masochistic. . .with contestants willing to do almost anything ‘for the team’. Of course, they are all paid handsomely to brave all and resurrect their careers.  Much has been written about bullying on reality TV but what of the people the other side of the camera. – the viewers? In Great British tradition we rejoice in celebrity denigration. We put them on their pedestals and when we decide that they are getting ‘too big for their boots’ we delight in bringing them back to earth. However the bush tucker trials have become nothing more than ritual humiliation. And the public are happy to pay to vote in the hope that their least favourite celebrity is covered in slime, fish guts, locked in a coffin, shat on by rats and nosh down on raw animal genitals. This year the ‘honour’ falls on Katie Price (a.k.a Jordan) for four trials in a row. The Great British public has voted.

Not a stranger to the media spotlight, Price is on record as saying she is returning to the jungle to get away from it all. . .in front of ten cameras, 24 hours a day.  The public have now voted for her to undertake four bush tucker trials in succession and her fear of water induced a panic attack on one trial that seemed genuine enough. And yet the next night, she’s the celebrity in a bottle and the night after voted to dip her face in worms , get bitten by ants and retch after taking a sip of some loathsome cocktail of insects. There’s no doubt that Katie Price is an expert media player. It’s possible that she’s re-entered the jungle (after six years) as a PR exercise and in response to the handsome fee that the producers are paying her to rescue this sorry programme from its death throes. But what of the mob mentality these shows instil? Is it not just a kind of remote-controlled bullying? You pay your money and you watch you celebrity squirm, from the comfort of your own home.

What is reality TV really saying about real life? What does it say about us? TV schedules are swamped with this kind of ‘bedlam’ TV. They are the most popular programmes on TV. Is it just harmless fun or aren’t we just over-dosing on Schadenfreude? Is our pleasure in the misfortune of others becoming our greatest pleasure in life?

Links:

Britain’s Got Some Thinking To Do

Down the Back of the Couch: The Problem With Big Brother

Big Brother’s Job Centre Easter Egg Hunt!

I suspect I’m not the only one who is disgusted by the Easter egg hunt at the JobCentre Plus contractor Skills Training Centre UK (STC)  in Southwark, South London. More than 150 unemployed people have been invited to look for 35 chocolate eggs hidden in the STC offices. Prizes include payment for a licence to work on building sites, vouchers to buy clothes for interview, and the chance to become a security guard.

However, I doubt whether anyone who has been in a job centre will be that surprised. The last time I had to use the service I was sent on a course run by some  private training company to update my CV and show me how to use the phone, and lick a stamp! The best advice I got was to lie on my CV! I was told to ‘play down’ my qualifications as I was likely to put employers off!

And now we have this so called fun and innovative approach to job seeking. It’s  nothing of the sort. It sounds as if some bright spark devoid of any imagination, creativity or respect for human dignity has spent too long watching the reality TV programme Big Brother.  It begs the question of what happens next year, chicken costumes or maybe eating worms or maybe selling a few tickets to have an audience to complete the humiliation? Unemployment can have a devastating effect on self-confidence and self-esteem and I’m hard pressed to see how humiliating people is going to help with this.

It’s all the more worrying the the organiser of this fiasco Catrina Lynch does see there’s a problem with the approach and some jobsworth at the Department for Work and Pensions has said: ‘We encourage providers to develop innovative ways of addressing unemployment. The most important thing is to find ways to get people back into work.’

Clearly, there should be an Easter egg hunt for the idiots who think this is a good way to treat human beings. We could have “choccie-woccie eggy-weggies”  filled with invitations to training courses on ‘how to treat people’ or better still containing their P45s! Maybe this would put these ‘people’ back in touch with values of respect, compassion and professionalism.