Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Ten years ago I wrote this article about fly on the wall documentary film makers. The most celebrated of these was Paul Watson. The article was inspired by his film The Dinner Party. The eight diners were, of course, utterly humiliated, all in the name of Watson's declared mission to be 'subversive'. In fact, Watson was being dishonest. What we saw was a second dinner party, the first had been judged too incoherent and Watson decided to reshoot the whole thing. In other words, what we were seeing was not reality, but a deliberate construct by a left wing film maker determined to portray his victims as fascists. Now the 'reality' TV show Big Brother has run into trouble over racist remarks about the Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty. Channel 4's first response was to dismiss the remarks as 'girly rivalry', which sounds pretty damned sexist to me, a clear case of a press office making matters worse. The matter is to be raised in Parliament and 4 has had to change its tune - 'Big Brother does not tolerate bullying or racist abuse in any form....' Blah blah blah. This I find very funny. Both cases expose these 'reality' shows for what they really are - cynical manipulations and the most artificial and unreal forms of TV ever devised. This exposure happens in both cases because a tiny sliver of real reality intruded on this process - the first, chaotic dinner party or the mildly racist remarks. This dangerous intruder from the real world must at once be crushed. The viewers must not, under any circumstances, be woken from their complacent slumber. They might discover they were only dreaming.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:18 am