Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The magic box

I was reading, in one of the port-side leaning broadsheets, an article bemoaning the current paucity of “working class” comedies on the television. It was the usual hand-wringing clap-trap that harked back to a mythical, pre-HD, golden era where “humanity” was to be found in the salt-of-the-earth, hand-to-mouth, struggles of the down-trodden working man, stay-at-home wife and hand-me-down fashioned - clinging-to-the-kitchen-apron - offspring, resident in some two-up, two-down, urban idyll (“idyll” for those with corrective rose-filter contact lenses (and please feel free to add your own patronising cliché)). Instead, the author suggests, we are inundated with “middle class” obsession-based broadcast programming. I beg to differ. Not the veracity of that latter observation, rather that there is any clear-cut distinction between “working” and “middle classes" in our present day, service-based, economy. Instead, I contend that the social distinction has been squeezed, not only from upward pressures (such as the expansion of education and healthcare), but also from downward pressures (such as corporate homogenisation and aspirational consumerism). The overspill either way falls into a perpetual underclass, crudely characterised by a penchant for sportswear and intergenerational "worklessness", and the moneyed-class - what they used to call the “nouveau-riche” (but that's getting a bit old now) - crudely characterised by hierarchical, fee-paying, social entrenchment and a hold-your-nose, charity-marathon, do-goodery douchebaggery. But back to the “middle class” scheduled oppression of “working class” television: one argument espoused in favour of this “entertainment apartheid” is the disappearance of the “variety show” or “vaudeville” as it's known across the pond. This is clearly nonsense: they're as popular as ever, except they've been re-branded, transmogrified, as 15-minutes-of-fame-Warholised, light entertainment, “talent” shows. In the same manner, the traditional circus and travelling fairs have morphed into "family-fun-day" aquariums, theme parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The “working class” have merely been knock-off-designer-(re)labelled as “middle class” and "social mobility" relegated to the status of bite-sized political catchphrase.

See also "Sports".


  1. You've aptly and hilariously ( "hold-your-nose, charity-marathon, do-goodery" )described the generic idea of the American middle class.

    I say generic because like everything that is considered to be is a watered-down understanding. Like beer and comedy it has to be if you want to market it to vast groups of people who don't have anything in common other than the tv shows and commercials they watch at night.

    Good luck with that.

  2. Ahhh, it's the dream, I just don't know who holds the copyright anymore.