Intelligent media at risk from drive for idiocy
Smart people can be ostracised by a media counting on the lowest common denominator for revenue
Ray D’Arcy made an exasperated announcement that after fielding text messages from listeners he was no longer going to talk about the cat
When Reeling in the Years tackles October 2013 there should probably be some version of Benny Hill music in the background. And we’re not even halfway through it yet. The greatest triumphs in farce this month have been driven by journalism as entertainment.
Exhibit A: the ridiculous “debate” that kept rolling as radio stations and newspapers attempted to make news out of the fake death of a cat on Love/Hate. Ray D’Arcy bailed early on with an exasperated announcement that after fielding text messages from listeners he was no longer going to talk about it. But the media wouldn’t let go, pushing and pushing for reaction and fake debate with a new drive for idiocy.
Eventually that cat was to appear on The Late Late Show. This was all a bit of joshing, of course, the culmination of a mindless news story going so far that the trajectory of the story ends up making a fool of itself just for the hell of it.
I didn’t watch that segment because I was too busy repeatedly punching myself in the face, so I’m not sure if the cat decided to inappropriately launch into a rendition of Oh My Darling, Clementine or reveal it was having kittens by a bishop. But the lack of splashes across the front pages of the Sunday newspapers tells me that didn’t happen. The producers must be very disappointed.
I’m sure there are blue sky thinking meetings happening in the “entertainment” section of RTÉ right now as independent production companies scramble to come up with innovative formats to showcase the cat’s talents. Perhaps it will go on a road trip with Hector with hilarious consequences. Maybe there’s another scandal in the works as Derek Mooney appoints it his programme’s bird-watching correspondent. The possibilities are endless.
Exhibit B was presented on the other side of the Atlantic, as the bastion of idiocy that is Fox News unveiled the newsroom of the future, which involved their journalists playing with gigantic iPad-esque workstations. News outlets are so desperately giddy and rudderless when it comes to technology that eventually something laughable like this happens, with a news station that surely couldn’t get more ridiculous ends up refurbishing its newsroom as something that looks like a parody beyond even the imagination of Chris Morris.
As someone who writes about popular culture and occasionally celebrity and technology and entertainment and various other things that don’t really matter, one tries to extract a greater meaning from the seemingly frivolous in order to interpret whether what’s happening on television or film or online or in music says anything about us as people and a society other than the bland entertainment value of it all. You’d like to think there’s a difference between that and talking about a cat. But maybe that’s also just a facade.