Surreal Reality TV

Few of us over the age of 40 have not been saddened by the death of David Bowie this week. Whether you liked his music or not, he was undoubtedly an original talent who had a profound impact on much of the culture of the 70�s and 80�s.

Contrast the outpouring of love and nostalgia we�re now seeing due to Bowie�s passing with what�s happening on UK�s Celebrity Big Brother. By sheer coincidence, Bowie�s ex-wife Angie is currently a �resident� in the Big Brother house.

There are two key points to put in context what subsequently played out in front of millions of Britons:

  • The only reason the former Mrs Bowie has any �celebrity� status and as such is qualified to be in the house in the first place was because she was once married to David Bowie
  • By her own admission she has not even spoken with the rock star for 40 years!

The producers of the reality TV show decided to air Mrs Bowie�s reaction to hearing the news of her former husband�s death.

Confusion, tears, confessions, grief. It was Shakespearean. It was also, apparently, compelling viewing.

Do you, like me feel a little diminished that this sort of bile was lapped up by a vast audience eager to observe a mawkish freak show? While there were 200�complaints made to the Media Watchdog, that was a price Big Brother�s franchise owners were no doubt prepared to pay for the worldwide headlines and ratings it garnered.

Truman ShowI realise that all of this pales into insignificance compared to the atrocities being committed around the world and other genuine issues like poverty, famine and racism.

But it is troubling that such is our collective fascination with cheap and tawdry titillation that the lines of decency and respect for human values are becoming increasingly blurred.

Watch or re-watch Jim Carey�s brilliant 1998 movie �The Truman Show� and see for yourself that sadly, what was fantasy has become our surreal reality.



Peter Applebaum

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