All entries for July 2013

July 25, 2013

Fantasy, reality and the Conservative party

So along with the introduction of this optional, but default on, pornography filter came a far more worrying piece of suggested policy: David Cameron also wants to ban ‘rape porn’. Now lets put aside the huge slew of legislative problems that will produce in actually defining what that actually is, because I’m starting to wonder if there’s more to all this.

This article in The Independent made me think a little – the crux of the article is that we’re all quite capable of separating reality from fiction, and by equating pornography with the actual act, you equate fantasy with reality, which the opposite of what you want to achieve.

So here’s the thing: we should be confused that this is coming from a Conservative government. They are, theoretically, meant to about hands-off, small government policies. You cut back social services, the NHS, libraries and so on because of the overriding principle that everyone should be able to fend for themselves. As such, nanny state actions like this, the internet filter, minimum alcohol pricing and so on seem at odds with that.

But then it comes back to that line from earlier: we all know the difference between fantasy and reality? But do we? Is that actually a quality we all possess. See, I know, because I have always had fantasies – I’m not talking of a sexual nature now, I’m talking far bigger: fantasies of wealth and maybe power. We grew up wanting stuff and knowing we couldn’t have it. We got older and got jobs and wanted stuff but knew we couldn’t afford it. We sometimes play the lottery and think about what we could do with the winnings.

Now stop for a second and imagine that never happened. Imagine you grew up in a rich family where, if you wanted something, you got it. As a kid, if you saw an awesome toy you just asked your parents and you had it next week. When you grew up you had the best possible education with all the options in the world open to you, and you were born smart enough to take advantage of them. You got a high paying job, could easily buy a nice house, and if you saw something you wanted you just bought it. You weren’t particularly attractive, but you could afford expensive clothes, personal stylists and a nice car so you were hardly starved for attention from the opposite sex.

If you grew up in that world, a world where you had everything you wanted, up to and including being part of a small group of people who ran the whole country, would you know the difference between fantasy and reality?

I’m not sure you would.


July 18, 2013

The transforming face of The Apprentice

With the ninth UK series of The Apprentice drawing to an end, it’s interesting to see that it’s finally following the trajectory of it’s US cousin. See over the past few years The Apprentice has become a joke. It started as a mildly serious business competition, and slowly devolved into a farce.

It’s not really the show’s fault – as any reality show progresses the applicants start to skew more towards people that want to be on TV rather than be in business, and with the state of the economy at the moment, successful business-people simply don’t abandon well-paid jobs for a one in sixteen chance at anything. So the show gets sillier and sillier, the mistakes get stupider and stupider and it all becomes a joke.

But something interesting happened this series: the show got it’s own joke. It’s in the music cues, the editing, where the show focuses – it’s now a comedy, and the producers and directors are acknowledging that. As such the show focuses almost entirely on the silly statements, mistakes and screw-ups made by various candidates, and plays them for laughs. Seeing Charlie Brooker show clips of the show and then taking the piss out it on 10 O’Clock Live was like him showing a clip of Only Fools and Horses then mocking Del Boy for falling through the bar. Dara O’Briain’s “You’re Fired” show is also becoming increasingly redundant as it’s mandate to take a light-hearted look at the events of the week’s episode is tough when the episode itself is a comedy.

This tonal shift made the final a little odd as it reverted back to treating them as serious business people after eleven weeks of taking the piss. It seems the only person that doesn’t get the joke is Lord Sugar himself. Actually wanting to start a serious medical business using the face of the winner to market said business demonstrates a complete failure to understand the average person’s opinion of an Apprentice candidate.


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