January 12, 2006

The politics of TVerite


However misguided, self-serving and craven Galloway may be (and who, least of all George himself, really knows why he went in?), his critics are worse.

The attack on Galloway for 'abandoning his duties' is predicated on the pretence that what most MPs do most of the time is worthwhile and essential, as if they all spend all week crusading on behalf of constituents' leaky council house roofs, as if their role never involves anything so shameful, demeaning and ethically bankrupt as SEEKING PUBLICITY, as if carousing with alcohol-pickled hacks or parading around re-enacting 'Is This the Way to Amarillo' with Andrew Neil possesses infinitely more gravitas than appearing on Celebrity Big Brother. If there is anyone who believes that (now come on, there just might be someone... somewhere...), they should do themselves a favour by switching to BBC2 after the CBB show on Monday and watching Armando Iannucci's The Thick of It. From reality TV to TVerite... Next time you hear a New Labour lickspittle wringing their hands and tut-tutting about GG, think of hapless Hugh Abbot, BlackBerry-Whipped, spun right round like a record, his constituents only figuring in the fevered calculations of his Machiavellian rat-mind when there is some media capital to be gleaned from their plight...

One other question... why is 'raising awareness' via media-whoring not only acceptable but positively NOBLE if it involves hoary old rawk n roll Spectacle rather than Warholly 'hanging about with transvestites and models'? Which is to say: what merit do Snow Patrol and Cocaine Robbie possess which the CBB inmates lack? (UPDATE: Here is Ed Balls this very minute on Question Time saying that it was Make Poverty History, not BB, that 'involved young people in politics' last year.)

After all, maybe Mark S is right (see Jan 8 entry on tee-hee Society of the Respectacle [no permalinks]) and '“the spectacle” -- in its stratifed diversity ever more emptied, if not of implicit and/or unstated and/or immanent politix, then certainly of cap-letter left political activity THANKS LARGELY TO PRO-SITU SNEERING (and LAZINESS) -- remains therefore wide wide open for re-invasion'. Such a WAR ON POP - not a war against Pop but a war on Pop's territory would be the very opposite of populism, since it would stretch and pull Pop beyond its limits (rather than politely accomodating itself to a patronisingly (p)represented version of them). In the end, Galloway's gambit seems to be less populist than entryist - the populist underestimates the intelligence and capacities of the populace, whereas Galloway's 'error', according to his detractors, seems to consist in over-estimating 'what is possible' on a mass media vehicle like CBB.

One sad side-effect of Galloway's entrance into the Big Brother house has been the opportunity it has given New Labour to once again rhetorically re-fight the Bethnal Green and Bow election. (How many more times?) The N L position on Galloway's defeat of their candiate is as patronising as it is desperate: if only those poor, hoodwinked Muslims knew what they were letting themselves in for seems to be the latest version of the plaint. In a double-page, fully serious analysis of the Galloway-BB phenomenon that in no way, in NO WAY, traded on ghastly publicity-seeking kneejerk-meeja froth, The Independent, to its shame, followed its own denunciation of Galloway by allowing New Labour Hugh Abbot-a-like Denis McShane (or whichever Malcolm Tucker-type was ventriloquizing him) to write a painfully embarrassing score-settling paean to the 'hard-working brilliance of the Jewish-African-American, Oona King.' That's right... read that again... 'hard working.... brilliant.... Oona King'. (I did idly wonder whether the CBB producers might send King in, to play this year's Jacquie Stallone to Galloway's Brigitte Nielsen. But after seeing Oona's pig-thick, painfully slow-witted performances on More4's The Last Word a few weeks ago, it's clear that she's no Jacquie S.)

Most deplorable of all is the fusty piety-by-proxy in which the Bliarites indulge. Just as the US contracts out torture, so NL monkeys contract out their sanctimonious outrage to 'Muslims' whose views they do not, of course, share but which they must, being noble sorts, (unlike lazy, self-seeking GG) represent. No hack or NL pager-puppet will themselves dream of sneering down their nose at cross-dressers, Paris Hilton lookalikes and glamour models (being men and women of the people, like), so it's convenient that there's a Muslim (big) Other on hand to do it for them. I mean, what will the Muslims think about George spending time with people of such dubious morals? 'Muslim outrage' can both be expressed and disavowed at the same time... perfect...

Speaking of double standards, the strapline for the Times CBB blog ('we watch, so you don't have to') is revealing by what it attempts to disavow. Isn't the reverse the case? 'You read this, so we can watch' or 'we write this, so you don't have to feel ashamed about watching any more' would be closer to the mark.

Incidentally, the comments on this post suggest that the Galloway monstering isn't quite going to plan.

Posted by mark at January 12, 2006 11:10 PM | TrackBack