TV Rudeness

There is a show on TV at the moment (Come Dine with Me) the premise of which is that five people each host a dinner party in turn after which the other four are encouraged to be as blisteringly rude about it as possible. I humbly submit that this is not a good thing.

It’s certainly compelling but only because for now it is still shocking to see people break the strong social convention that tells us that when we are invited into someone’s home we don’t immediately and publicly slag off the food and décor. This show gets all its power from licensing people to break that rule and bitch at length on how vulgar they thought the napkins were but the truth is that no napkins, not even when embroidered with monograms, presented in napkin rings, and referred to as serviettes can ever be as vulgar as saying so.

This program glorifies people who do say so as loudly and obnoxiously as possible and the problem is that this taboo is a finite resource. Every time you break it you weaken it. It’s like smashing a teapot and gluing it back together again and again and again. Sooner or later there’s going to be more glue than pot and then there will be no more tea for anyone. In this metaphor tea stands for grace and courtesy, as well it might. Shows like this one recklessly gobble up our capacity to be shocked by people being rude to each other for short-term gain and like the rainforest once it’s been destroyed to make grazing land for cattle it’s gone forever. In this metaphor cows stand for rudeness and selfishness. This is less fair on cows than the previous one was on tea.

(David Mitchell’s Soapbox – TV rudeness)


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