Last night I watched a doc on the history of Pathe pictorial. It’s stuff from the ’50s and ’60s was bizarre beyond comprehension. The stand-out moment was about hiccup cures. This involved a gaggle of beauties in bathing suits rubbing grated raw potato into the stomach of one of their member. The direction was verging on pornographic which of course the content wasn’t - unless you’re into lesbian grated vegetable play. The afflicted lass then puts a paper bag over her head. It was just weird.
Now before we get mocking about the past. I also caught a bit of “Red or Black” which is stunningly awful. If you thought the nadir of the game-show was “Deal or No Deal” you’re in for a treat. This makes that look like “The Krypton Factor”. Hell even Monty Hall’s show gave us probability theory’s veridical paradox par excellence. I have seen professional mathematicians reduced to tears by that one. I got it first time. If you’re wondering that’s not a very good explanation. The best is in the book “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime”.
And then I saw something else last night. “Newsnight” was on about “Little Mosque on the Prairie” a Canadian sit-com. And it looks a funny show which a naive fella like me thinks is the purpose of a sitcom. But various intellectual types thought ought to be on US TV because it would be a “Muslim Cosby Show”. Their point being is we see ordinary middle-class folk who are different having much the same aspirations and worries as us… I vaguely recall the “Cosby Show” and it wasn’t funny. Or to put it another way did I really need to see it in order to know black people are folks too? They even used the device of making Bill Cosby’s character a gynaecologist. Presumably this was to challenge the whole moral panic idea of black men getting “their” way with “our” women. It is patronising beyond belief. Nobody but lunatics had believed that for decades. And quite frankly the Grand Cyclops of The Klan was not likely to change his world view on the basis of a sit-com. He’s probably up in Idaho storing canned goods and .50 calibre ammunition anyway.
Thing is I have actually met black people and Muslims. I have even met black Muslims (I don’t mean Nation of Islam types - they are nuts - just Muslims who are black) and some were jerks and some were fine and most were somewhere in-between. I didn’t need TV to tell me that. But TV execs don’t believe this. They’re like teachers who don’t believe a person can learn off their own bat. They believe they are the grand high poobahs of morality and by morality I mean reality.
Well TCP/IP is coming to get ya! The mindset is so backward, so dismal. so top-down. It is the same mindset that believes prole-feed like “Red or Black” will entertain the masses. It is a demented version of Reith for the wrong century. The masses are cleverer than the elite. It’s time to tell them. It’s time to vote by remote control or iPad or Lenovo. My local pub serves tapas and we got EasyJet. TV is a serpent eating it’s tale. It is frankly out-moded. The days of half the country watching Morecambe and Wise are over. Indeed the days of something like “The Cosby Show” are over. One of the execs (or academics - whatever) ceded to Paxman that Fox had bought it (optioned it?) and possibly the reason for the no-show was falling ratings in general.
Broadcast TV is going the way of the landline. Thank God.