X Factor, Jeremy Kyle, The Only Way Is Essex, Made in Chelsea, Jersey/Geordie Shore, what do these programmes all have in common?
The answer: they all seek to reduce the value of human beings in order to provide ‘entertainment’ and I use that term very lightly because I don’t find any of them in the least entertaining.
I don’t watch X Factor, I did once, back at the beginning when everyone was talking about it, just to see what it was about. I tuned in one Sunday morning when the repeat showing of the auditions was on and this is the reason why I have never watched it since. A young man came out to sing and it became obvious, very quickly, that he did not have talent as a singer but the disturbing thing about watching it was that this young man was what we term ‘special needs’. Sharon Osbourne was the only one to show him any humanity as the rest of them fed off his confusion and humiliation. I felt physically ill watching it and haven't watched it since then.
I say confusion because I later learned from someone who, when at music college, had been encouraged by her friends to enter the auditions which were being held locally. She told me about the process of turning up, being left outside for hours, being ushered into a booth to sing and then told to come back for the next audition or not. A few weeks later she went through the same process again, but something about the whole set up did not feel right so she did not go back for the third audition, this is the process you go through before you get to stand up and sing before the ‘judges’. So, in the case of the young man, if he had come through that process, then he was merely being used as fodder with no regard to his humanity and that is fine, up to a point, if you are fully aware of what is happening, or why you are standing there, but he didn’t.
I have seen some of the Jeremy Kyle show, another foul piece of programming which, again, takes human beings under the guise of ‘helping’ them in order to turn their lives into a public spectacle. I have never seen TOWIE, or Jersey/Geordie Shore but I did see them advertised in a friends house one day and from the talk at work, this confirmed everything I had deduced about them, well, let’s face it, you wouldn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to work that one out. I did also see about 15 minutes of Made in Chelsea one time, another piece of garbage television and, quite frankly, 15 minutes was about 14 minutes too long.
The ‘scripted reality’, (a contradiction in terms to begin with) of these shows is television at it’s laziest, as it relies on reducing humanity to their lowest common denominator. The spectacle they hope to create is every bit as nauseating and disturbing as the events that used to take place in the Roman Coliseum. It was interesting that Anders Breivik talked about having to stop thinking about the people he was going to shoot as human beings in order to carry out his slaughter. The same thing happened under the Nazis in Germany and throughout the conquest of places like Ireland, Africa, the Americas and the Antipodes. In order to hurt, humiliate or kill other humans they had to be regarded as not fully human, or not as evolved, their value reduced, their worth regarded as being less than another's.
There are many ways we reduce our humanity, we do it by drinking too much, eating too much, taking drugs, being physically, psychologically and/or verbally abusive, allowing ourselves to use or be used sexually, or for monetary gain. We also do it by grouping people into social hierarchies like the class system or the caste system. We do it by labelling people with derogatory descriptions likes chavs or the ‘n’ word, (I loathe that word in particular, and physically cannot say it, so I won’t write it either) or claiming that the church someone attends is better than those of another faith. But the real reduction is when we deliberately pick on those who don’t have the skills or the intellect to understand what is being done to them, because in seeking to reduce them, we also reduce ourselves.
I didn’t get off to a very good start in life and from there it went rapidly downhill, which explains why I am doing Open University at my age. This is not an exercise in blame, the reality of the situation was that my parents were ill-prepared for the task of parenting. I was too, which of course I didn’t realise until I became a parent, but luckily enough I was blessed with a certain intellect and realised how inadequate I was and so set about trying to acquire some skill in the area, which is why I believe it should be part of the school curriculum.
There were also other events which over the years contributed to the de-valuing of me as a human being and left me with no sense of self-worth. Then twelve years ago, I hit a crisis point, one of a few over the years but the one where I finally started to turn it around. Since then I have been on this spiritual journey which regular readers (yes, you two, I’m giving you a mention today) would know, as I’ve mentioned it before, and since then I have done a lot of work to raise my sense of worth. By that I do NOT mean that I now have high self-esteem, because self-esteem leads to a large ego and an overblown sense of your value, what I have now is self-love and self-respect which are basically the same thing. I am not any more valuable than any other human being on this planet but neither am I of any LESS value than any other human being on this planet. And this is true for everyone whether you believe you were created by God or whether you believe your existence here is the result of the evolutionary process alone (for me personally they are one and the same thing). And when I see something on television like the Jeremy Kyle show then, I think, ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’, because if I had not been blessed with the gifts of intellect and understanding (and I don’t mean that to sound like I know it all, every day is another learning experience) I might never have reached the place where I am today. Which by the way, I didn’t do all on my own, I did it with God/Universe’s help and help from other people. I also read and thought a lot about things and, on that note, for anyone in need of some good advice or who maybe doesn’t have much of a sense of their value as a human being, I would highly recommend ‘The Road Less Travelled by M, Scott Peck. This book was an invaluable source of help and I would also recommend the follow up ‘ Further Along the Road Less Travelled’.
The degradation of humanity is usually the first step on the road to tyranny as history has shown us and something we always need to be aware of.