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Reality TV and middle-aged naked men are not the problem

Some months ago, an imprudent hostess left my mouth empty too long and I began yelling at a fellow diner. This was not my fault. It was due to inadequate catering and ruling class ideology. Understand: there I was with absolutely no goat curd to stop up my gob when some cultural studies tosser starts on about The Problem With the World. Which is, apparently, reality TV. 

I can listen to rich twits explain the origin of all inequality as cultural only if benumbed by high-end dairy. If you want me to agree that Married at First Sight is not the symptom but the cause of mass estrangement, you’re going to have to pay me. If you do not ply me with premium dairy and potable wines, I will not forget that the true cause of mass estrangement is material inequality and I will fucking tell you to shut it as you go on and interminably on about how Sexism in the Media is the engine room of the patriarchy and if only we had strong female role models on MasterChef, or whatever it is these cultural studies people are holding to particular account this week, then no one would feel shame anymore and we could all commence a gynocentric end of history or whatever.  I don’t know. All I wanted was some goat curd, or any ruling class morsel nice enough to help me withstand ruling class drivel about The Real Cause of Problems Today.

I have not seen The Full Monty, either in real or fictional iteration. I can be certain, however, that it is not the Problem with the World.

I choose not to recall this evening of intellectual and cheese scarcity in great detail, as it’s very boring and we’ve all been there before.  You know the sort of thing. Some actual adult, perhaps one with letters pursuing their name, squanders education and breath on the topic of mass culture which is not, in their view, just some cut price diversion that necessarily reinforces dominant order but dominant order itself. Like, they actually believe that if we were all to encounter, I don’t know, immersive theatre or experimental ringtones, we would be so spiritually elevated that resentment would just fall away. But, blah blah blah, the masses just aren’t cultured like us due to the hypnotic force of a competitive weight loss show, which they are all too dumb not to take seriously. Poor things. Let’s improve their lot with a day pass to a writers’ festival. Perhaps that delightful Paul Krugman will be there to discuss his marvellous new book I Don’t Think There Is Anything Wrong With Capitalism That Can’t Be Fixed With a Positive Attitude. 

Long story short, I screamed “being creates consciousness and not the other way ‘round you foolish servant to the financialised lords of dominant order” and I haven’t, thank god, been invited to dinner with a callow twit (or anyone) much since then. I have no regrets. Or, I didn’t have regrets until last night when the television paused its work of reshaping my brain with propaganda and a promotion for a program called The Real Full Monty began.

I had not before heard of this program. That, more than the program itself, was the curious thing. That I had avoided for some months the knowledge that local celebrities appear naked on a stage, perhaps to accompaniment, every Sunday night seemed incredible. And, male celebrities, largely of middle age, I think. Shane Jacobson seems to be among their number and I am sure that a person with the last name of “Kenny” is a regular nude contestant. I wondered if this could be Chris Kenny, etiquette columnist with The Australian. Probably not, but then again, I thought, what is not possible in an age that brings us vision of naked midlife men?

And then, I came across like a regular goat curd eater and said, “Well. That’s the problem with the world, isn’t it?”

Satirical news programs in which the punchline is always Trump. Does anyone genuinely believe that these things are watchable, let alone the measure and the origin of a just society?

I have not seen The Full Monty, either in real or fictional iteration. I can be certain, however, that it is not the Problem with the World. I am not even sure that it is a symptom of the problem with the world. And, even if it is, it is no more symptomatic of ill than the thought that I briefly upheld, which is that television is itself a problem.

This week, I caught the wind from some battle or other for the heart of Network Ten. I will not furnish you with details of this media spat, as I haven’t looked them up and, upon the advice of my psychologist, do not intend to. But it’s something about an evening of comic entertainment in which no women are featured. 

Apparently, a good many women entertainers are cross about this absence and, as dominant feminist opinion has it, it is well past time that my gender is represented on shit shows on shit networks.  Moreover, women remain notably absent from the satirical news genre and this is due to the patriarchal refusal, or something, to grant them desks. Desks are a symbol of power. If more women have desks, which are the symbol of power, we will have—I don’t really follow the argument, make up your own mind—greater diversity in desks.

These tiny battles for nothing are a fatal delusion.

FFS. Reality shows. Satirical news programs in which the punchline is always Trump. Does anyone genuinely believe that these things are watchable, let alone the measure and the origin of a just society?

Burn it all down, people. Or, at least, ignore it and shove some goat curd in your hole. These tiny battles for nothing are a fatal delusion. If we continue to believe so utterly that bad television or good television or middle-brow culture and unremarkable writers speaking their unremarkable thoughts about how Trump and reality TV ruined everything can change a damn thing, we may as well watch reality TV.

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14 responses to “Reality TV and middle-aged naked men are not the problem

    1. Maybe it sounds like they are scraping the bottom of a very low barrel to me…I’d rather not…obviously its something that the tv execs thought was a good idea over Friday night drinks…you know the whole back of the beer coaster concept…well like most things these ideas look good through beer goggles but do they pass the long term taste test…that is the question…

    1. Deborah. There are plenty of theories about the mechanism of social change.
      Not many have held that the primary force of change is ideas/telly until recent decades. Obviously, conservative Australians believe that this is true, as they’re so desperate to reshape the ABC and open their Ramsay course. Obviously, most popular feminists do as well.
      This view is not mine. I see an interaction of the material with the cultural. They interweave. However, the means by which people must secure their actual survival (wage labour for most of us) determines the idea.
      I explain this in simple terms in the first chapter of my latest book. It’s called “historical materialism”. You don’t need my book, though! Plenty of stuff written about it.
      The interest in change and how to effect it is, clearly, important for anyone who fancies a better world.
      Thanks for asking.

  1. Has anyone else noticed that Todd Kenny in the photo looks like Tony Abbott?? I was momentarily excited and full of confused feelings!! Oh and I enjoyed the rant.

  2. Razer is showing serious signs of “Germaine derangement syndrome”….a phenomena afflicting middle aged hetero females who missed the latest fashion for lesbianism.. (a Barry Humphries joke girls…really!!)

    I will continue to read Razer for some occasional gems, as long as she does not start defending FGM or dogs at the bottom of the bed.

    1. 1. Men over 50 should not be seen without a shirt.
      2. Never watch “reality” television.
      3. No exceptions.

    2. I hate to tell you Archie but it has nothing to do whatsoever to do with lesbianism.. or Barry Humphries tawdry efforts at humour as Dame Edna… I never found him funny & unfortunately never will…by the way unless you understand what it’s like to be a middle aged female in this day & age…your observations are probably best kept to yourself…I’m sorry but there enough disgruntled men venting their attitude towards women as it is….by the way Helen’s observations are refreshing in this day & age…rather than the cookie cutter, or angst ridden opinions of the commentators that Murdoch would prefer to ply us with…

  3. Goat’s curd does that to you. I’ve just been advised by a person under 40 that the trick is to completely drop the seeds and the dairy.

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