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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Tuesday Twat(s)

No. 29. The production teams of "fly on the wall" documentaries.

In the TV wasteland of 7pm to 9pm there is a scary new phenomenon. Designed to confirm all of the prejudices that the comfortable middle-classes have about the chav class - it's the latest incarnation of the "fly on the wall documentary".

"Britain's worst kids", "Wife swap", "Britains worst husband/wife/androgenous fuck buddy", "Is your house a shitehole?". If there is a more contrived form of "documentary", I have yet to see it. These programmes work on one simple premise - stick a camera crew in the lives of "ordinary people" and you will see extra-ordinary behaviour.

At first amusing, I am starting to find these programmes uncomfortable and worrying viewing. A current documentary involves following the lives of parents who's kids spend so much time off school that the parents are facing jail sentences. The programmes are skillfully edited such that anyone watching finds themselves shouting at the TV "Pawn the little shit's XBox and give them a fucking smack!" Yet it is becoming painfully obvious that the "stars" of the show, like those on daytime chatshows, are just living up to expectations. A couple of weeks ago, sloppy editing showed the cynicism of these production crews who all too obviously script the whole thing. A spoilt little girl has been refusing to go to school, she gets kicked out the door in the morning, then returns sulkily 5 minutes later (why her unemployed parents don't take her to the school gate is never explored) refusing to go. Overly dramatic temper tantrums ensue for a few minutes before the kid goes back to bed to watch Trisha.

Classic "reality TV" fodder - except that this time the kid can't act as well as usual. Cut to a scene where she is having a temper-tantrum in the living room. She stands still for a second, before suddenly erupting and kicking her toys across the room. You could almost hear the director shout "action". It was so fucking obvious! These families have been offered their 5 minutes of fame and, hand-in-hand with the production crew they are milking it for everything it's worth. At the expense of their child's education. Jail the fucking parents I say. That'll teach them to exploit their kids.

This really calls into question the entire genre. "How clean is your house?" should be renamed "What does your house look like after a TV production crew have scattered your bins in the lounge and brought their dirty laundry over".

I imagine that the pre-production meetings for Britain's worst kids, probably go something like this.

Well dressed parents sitting with young man, sipping tea out of a china mug, little finger extended.
Production assistant: Well he seems quite well behaved at the moment.
Parents: Oh that won't be a problem, as soon as the cameras start to roll, he'll start kicking the furniture.
Production assistant: Hmmm, that's quite normal at his age, even in middle-class families. Can't you come up with anything better?
Parents: We're thinking of banning him from watching TV. To which Anthony will respond "You fucking cunts I wish you were dead".
Production assistant: That's a bit better - but we've already met one family who have agreed that their daughter will pretend to be pregnant and has even agreed to scratch her wrists with a blunt knife.
Mother: I thought I might leave my handbag sitting in the kitchen in plain view. Anthony will then steal some money and take my car keys. Mr Patel at the "Cash n Carry" has kindly agreed to sell Anthony and Millicent from next door some cheap cider, and put up with a bit of racial abuse. You'll like Millicent, she has a pierced nose.

To be honest, I don't know who gets the Twat award this week - the production crews who script this garbage; the participants; or we the viewers for putting up with this shite.

Twats - the lot of 'em.




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