embarrassing television

By Paul Flower on May 22, 09 05:59 PM

Television's a freak show isn't it? It's like watching a parade of the mentally and physically afflicted doing unicycle tricks for the 'entertainment' of the illiterate and chronically couch-bound. Actually that sounds pretty good.

Instead of providing a window to the world, television is more of a porthole slammed on the side of the asylum. In the main they've even given up the pretence of it being some kind of educational tool, now it's just sit and gawp fodder for those of us who can't be bothered to do anything else and can't afford multi-channel satellite feeds.

I've been reaching this conclusion over a prolonged period whilst vegetating in front of the screen - it's either one screen or another. Mostly though it appears to be the fault of embarrassing bodies on Channel 4.

It's the follow-up to a presumably successful series called embarrassing illnesses where people who were suffering some kind of condition so shameful that they couldn't go to their GP could get advice. Yes, they were too embarrassed to go to their private doctor's surgery but they were willing to parade themselves in front of millions on TV. It's a paradox I'm still struggling with, C4 aren't struggling though - which is how they've managed to get at least twelve hours worth of content out of it.

One I saw recently featured a young girl who had verruca problems; we've all been there - except not to this extent. Her verrucas had verrucas, her feet were completely encrusted to the degree that there was probably more wart tissue than skin. As is commonplace with such programmes her mother solemnly revealed that 'young warty' had problems walking and was too embarrassed to go to sleepovers with her friends.

Yes, too embarrassed to visit her friends but her parents weren't embarrassed enough not to put her on a television screen in millions of households. Long have I struggled with the concept of this show and how they manage to find their freaks, are they referred by GPs looking to bolster their NHS earnings? I'm sure her parents must've previously visited a GP and found no solution, so instead they go on TV. Personally I'd have been camped out in the doctor's surgery until they found a cure; the problem was genuinely that bad.

It seems that everyone thinks that TV is the answer, rather than TV being the problem or at least the cause. The same episode (or it may have been a different one, they tend to blur into one horrible mass) featured a guy with a sore arse. The diagnosis from the cheerfully perverse doctors, one of whom happens to be named Pixie, was that he had an ingrown infected hair in the anus which had to be cut out.

You may be flinching at this point, but watching it was much worse. Who, in their right mind, wants to be shown on TV whilst surgeons prod around - with scalpels - in their back passage? Is this the price of being on TV today? Who wants to risk queuing for hours to have Simon Cowell ridicule you when you can just spread your cheeks or whip out your tackle and get straight to the masses. In the future it's all super-HD and widescreen, I can't imagine that this is what we really want on those formats, is it? Really?!


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