I’m watching television with some friends. Not really concentrating, just something to stare at while we smoke. On comes ‘Who Dares… Sings.’ Already, I’m firing up my hate-cylinders. It almost feels too easy, more like an execution then a superior sneer at some bottom of the barrel programming.
As it starts, it’s all Saturday night studio and Woolworth’s glamour. The airbrushed presenters lead the crowd in two verses of some random pop song for no reason at all. The words even flash up on screen, making the television into some kind of live karaoke machine. On comes Michelle – she’ll be singing against Kathy. Michelle starts a bit shakily but gets into the swing of it. The crowd are doing that weird clap-along-for-the-sake-of-it thing that prime time herds seem to love. Kathy does her tune, both girls gush about how they thought the other should have gone through and how well the other did. Kathy wins, everybody cheers Michelle, she sits down happy that she got her fifteen minutes.
Something is deeply wrong here. Although it ticks all the right hate checkpoints, I just can’t sneer at it. There’s something deeply refreshing about it. Nobody judges the singers, everybody’s happy to participate… it’s a competition yet it’s not the end of the world if they lose. Somehow, everybody has a bit of a singalong and goes home happy without stabbing anybody in the back. After all, it’s only television, right?
Later on, we’re watching America’s Got Talent. A group of girls have traveled half way across the country to rap at an audience for thirty seconds. Instantly, the crowd start booing. They literally get about twenty seconds before they’re made to stop. As Piers Morgan gets ready to sneer, his brain wiring up the most humiliating, most witty put down he can muster, I glimpse his face and see how he can’t wait to tell these people how rubbish they are and how mundane their performance was. I look into his puckered face and see myself in his sneer. That feeling – ready and waiting to tear them down for daring to not appeal to his cultural sensibilities, for wasting his time – and I’m a little bit more than uncomfortable.
That night, I had a dream. Me and Piers, tied together while Ben Shephard and Denise Van Outen laughed at our pitiful, hate-filled existence. It wasn’t a sneer, it was a genuine belly-laugh, like there was a joke we couldn’t fathom. Michelle looked at us like we were recently-kicked puppies.
It’s probably symbolic of something.