17 Apr

Dumber still and dumber: the infantilisation of Britain

What is a “quality” newspaper? The Times long since gave up any pretence to that virtue and in recent years it has been followed by the Daily Telegraph. The six pages after the leader page are invariably the most monstrous drivel, a cavalcade of ignorance and illiteracy. This is where philosophical disquisitions are entered into on subjects such as face paint and the school run by journalists who, it seems, have to share the same five brain cells and who have never strayed within a Sabbath day’s journey of the English language. “Trivia” is too holy a word to describe what appears there.

This morning – under the heading “Arts,” what else? – there is a whole page given over to a silly photograph of some phantasmagorially-dressed young people with the question; ARE THESE THE WORST DRESSED POP SINGERS EVER?

Certainly it is the most pressing question of the day.

We know why the paper goes in for such blatant trash: because they know that it’s what “the punters” – as they offensively refer to their readership – want. Yes, well, it was Lord Reith in the 1930s who said, regarding the BBC, “We mustn’t give the people what they want; or they will start to want what they’re being given.” But there are already more than sufficient outlets for rubbish in the tabloids and the myriad gaudy, TV channels. And it seems there is no longer so much as a niche for quality. If you say this, you will be accused of “elitism.” But what’s the alternative? I’d rather be an elitist than a mediocratist. And “mediocre” is putting it more than a bit on the high side. They say it’s “only a bit of fun.” But who could possibly raise a laugh at this dreary, repetitious stuff?

Unfortunately, the sorts of things that one finds interesting defines who and what one is. O brave new Britain that hath such people in it – people who can gorge themselves on fatuity

I shouldn’t pick on the Daily Telegraph for it’s not the only place where there has been a massive falling off. But I do pick on it, more in sorrow than in anger – because I used to admire and enjoy the DT. Now it makes me retch.

The best bits of writing in the DT  are the obituaries. The paper might as well write its own.

Where else might we look for quality? Fifty years ago, at its founding, we were told we would find it in BBC2. Subsequently, even the BBC admitted that BBC2 had become so dumbed down that they would remedy the lack of seriousness by giving us BBC4, which they described as “a place to think.” But think about what? Now it’s full of rock music. Thursday evenings are hours on end of old editions of Top of the Pops. The Arts Channel Number 1 is all noise and froth and the sort of entertainments we ought to have grown out of by the age of twelve.

Thus we stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age