Our straight talking Lancashire lass takes a sideways look at the daily news.
My Big Fat Tool Academy Face Off
This week I’ve been glued to TV. It’s the recession – I’ve had to stop going out so watching the box is a cheap form of entertainment. But I don’t know whether I want to continue watching the telly, because from what I saw this week I reckon we’re starting to make a sport out of meanness.
On Monday evening I watched in astonishment as a group of semi-literate thugs and their long-suffering partners participated in fake funerals on E4’s Tool Academy. Fake funerals for our entertainment. Um, what?
Apparently it was supposed to make the couples closer or something. But it was wrong, cheap even. It was ridiculous, all the more so for the pitiful eulogies that the geezers had to cobble together.
Plus there’s something weird about a bunch of ‘ard men bawling their hearts out and dealing with their feelings. It’s not right. I’m a Lancashire lass and I like my men to be men. Guys who use moisturiser go down in my estimation, as do men who cry. It’s not proper Northern.
I was yelling at the TV, shouting “It’s not real!!! Stop crying and man up!!!” Tools.
Then, on Tuesday I had a 20 stone helping of pink taffeta and tiaras with My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (AKA “Let’s Laugh At The Pikeys And Assume They’re All Criminals Or How Else Could They Afford Such Lavish Weddings I Swear England Is Going To The Dogs”).
We saw how women in the travelling community are often taken out of school early and married into a life of domestic drudgery and powerlessness.
But has MBFGW made Gypsies and travellers a laughing stock? Hardly. The culture of ‘Her Indoors’ isn’t exactly confined to travellers, and I imagine that garish fluorescent weddings are the preserve of a minority within their community.
The programme highlights the prejudices and problems that travellers face – it’s no wonder they’re secretive and wary of outsiders, I would be. And to anyone who rants about how they afford their costly weddings, I’d like to point out the very obvious fact that caravans are substantially cheaper than houses – by around £250,000. Simples.
Like Tool Academy, it’s a programme that appeals to the gossip within. But as much as I like to gawp at the hellish wedding outfits, ‘Versace-style’ caravans and community fist fights I also know that we’re not getting the full picture and this doesn’t apply to all gypsies and travellers – to think otherwise is to embrace stupidity.
And finally, last night’s ‘Beauty And the Beast: The Ugly Truth About Prejudice’ took the biscuit for jaw-dropping insensitivity.
Here’s the premise: extremely pretty ‘beauty addicts’ are sent to live with people who have severe facial disfigurements as an exploration of our beliefs on beauty.
Last night’s episode on C4 saw Sarah Burge, the ‘Real Life Barbie Doll’ (she’s in her 50s and looks 29) move in with Susan, a woman who has endured over 60 operations since birth to correct the damage from a facial cancerous tumour.
Susan came across as a normal, intelligent, funny, outgoing and lovely woman who you would have no hesitation inviting to the pub.
Sarah, on the other hand, well… what can I say? Anyone who thinks it acceptable to say: “People must look at you and think you’re retarded because of your face” is, well, there are no words.
And when Chris Herbert (the git responsible for the Spice Girls) told presenter Adam Pearson that he’d “make more money in a freak show than as a pop singer” my jaw nearly broke it dropped so hard. Pearson’s disfigurement stems from a condition called neurofibromatosis.
All these TV programmes insist they explore important issues, but this comes at a cost. Let’s all point, stare and laugh at the uneducated, the Pikeys and freaks.
I don’t think I’m wrong in saying there is a strong undertone of cruelty beneath the veil of compassion. And like many I keep watching, but at least I don’t take these programmes at face value. The problems start when we do…