Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The Blu-Ray Henries Of The Conservative Party Display Poverty Of Metaphor When They Compare Britain To 'The Wire'
I was intrigued to note the comments from the Shadow Home Secretary, Mr Chris Grayling, comparing the United Kingdom to the television series, The Wire. I understand that Mr Grayling has form in this regard, having previously compared life in this sceptred isle to the Channel 4 drama, Shameless, and also to the Jeremy Kyle show.
Now, it is reassuring to note that Mr Grayling takes such an active interest in television, but I do wonder about his logic. Unlike the front bench of the Conservative Party, I have not watched The Wire, but I have read enough about it to understand that it portrays the state of lawlessness which exists in Baltimore. I understand, also, that the Baltimore which is depicted in the drama is far worse than is likely to be found in even the worst of British urban environments, though I confess I felt uneasy when trying to buy a fly cemetery in Dunbar recently, after a bracing walk on Belhaven sands.
Similarly, I have not seen Shameless, or Mr Kyle, but I know them to be bracing in their assessment of our national life. Yet all are popular, which may be why Mr Grayling felt the urge to cite them in his speeches.
The truth is, real life is nothing like television, and never has been. This weekend, Edinburgh will be occupied by a linen-clad army of nincompoops, as the Guardian-sponsored International Television Festival lays siege to the Conference Centre, and the bar of the George Hotel. Take a walk down Morrison Street on Saturday, and you will see that television people are not like the rest of us. They are peculiarly self-satisfied, which is odd, given the dire state of television. I have attended this festival in the past, when there were vague plans to turn me into a television chef, but I consider myself fortunate that Mince With Everything never got off the drawing board. (Over a glass of warm ginger ale and a piece of haggis pakora, I was informed that I was sexually and demographically unattractive, which was reassuring).
My brief experience of the (non)commissioning process demonstrated that the television is a patronising industry. It is made by idiots, for idiots, and continues to prosper because some of us are idiotic enough to tune in. Where does the intelligent viewer find succour in today’s schedules? Tonight’s highlight is the return to the BBC of Shooting Stars, in which Mr Vic Reeves (not, I understand, his real name) introduces a new item called “Celebrities Disguised As Hitler”. I am not sure how much of my licence fee went into funding that little item, but it was too much, and I would like it back, by return of post, with some compensation for my embarrassment.
But, like Ronnie Corbett pursued by an angry ostrich across Gullane Bents, I digress. My point is the poverty of metaphor which has overtaken the Conservative Party. Why do they insist on comparing everything to television? Have they not read a book? I would suggest that if they want to be alarmist, and I fear that they do, they might start with the Old Testament, particularly Deuteronomy 19. They will find every horror they need in there, and more.
Meanwhile, I will light a candle for Dixon of Dock Green, and dream gently.