Vicarious Virtues: The Kate Moss’ Cereal Theory

As a son within a largely traditional African home there are certain cultural pillars that must be upheld. All my African readers will likely be enduring visions of various, and quite creative punishments (some of which I will likely shed some light upon in the future). These pillars create a rather strictly run household. I have, in my 21 and some years, never talked back to either of my parents and have become increasingly skilled at hiding my irritation like a bad case of eczema. However, on Wednesday the 7th of December my veneer shattered. Manchester United, as many are now aware, have now saved Channel 5 and ITV10 from certain collapse. Thus, I was not in the best of moods. I came downstairs to comfort eat and ease my football related wounds only to find my Mum flitting through channels only to settle on….a Peter Andre programme with entirely too much satisfaction for my liking.

I am unsure how I left with my own life in all honesty. I told my Mum to change the channel (told!), she asked why and I proceeded with a 5 minute long lecture on why he is the worst, how I hate him (I don’t really) and how he is the sole reason for the destruction of our society. Luckily, my Mother succumbed to changing the channel without batting an eyelid or twisting my ear. Although I regret snapping at my Mum, I do not regret getting her to change the channel. I also broadly stand by my hyperbolic (no time chamber) statements.

Most who know me personally know I am a lefty and a fairly big liberal. Yet, it is important to note that left wing politics are far from synonymous and often are at loggerheads. The extreme of a liberal agenda has, in my opinion, lead to a society with reprehensible characteristics which we often choose to ignore. A great illustration of this issue lies within the strange popularity of vapid, vacuous types such as Peter Andre and other “_list” celebrities. This aspect of our culture offers very little even in escapist terms and, more dangerously, it encourages an insular look at life in our society.

These programs have taken the blueprint of the defunct (but not really) reality TV show Big Brother. Big Brother was a show which originally posited a potential look at social dynamics but devolved into a farce which merely highlighted and encouraged our society’s problems. These shows have fused the worst of Big Brother with Hollyoaks into an evil crop of splintering, regional clusterfucks. It is a truly sad state of affairs when one really looks at what is being promulgated by businesses who are profiting on a cultural cycle that THEY have created.

Prior to recent times stars were aspirational figures, distinct characters who represented ideologies that people could latch on to. Today we have an army of over tanned, indistinct types who talk about nothing of any real importance as the figures of aspiration. But, if these lot are you then where does the inspiration come from? These characters are often found off of local streets and portray exaggerated versions of themselves in exaggerated events which are likely to be mimicked by regular folk.

Every problem has a source though. I personally blame the fat cats in the city who smoke cigars filled with domestic dogs and wrapped in the skin of newborn kittens. The ongoing Leveson enquiry has been tackling the murky business of the self-regulated press which inevitably became the sleazy step-brother of the fat cat. The effectively unregulated press have, with free reins over the last two decades, created and expanded the culture of celebrity by becoming Big Brother to the every move of celebrity. Investigative journalism has become a euphemism for stalking Kate Moss as she picks her nose and swirls it in her corn flakes. There is zero public interest involved in these kinds of tales and zero truly gained from them. We should not be ashamed of admitting that this aspect of our society is useless and should be rallied against.

Of course, we cannot just stop the presses per se and prevent gossip from being an industry. We can however, as we did leading up to our current media situation, curate our society but shape it into something tangibly greater. Better taste in programming for example improves the standard of that particular industry, thus making it more exportable. Obviously there are multiple wins in this equation.