Tuesday, 1 December 2015

In which I discover that I have double standards ...

Australian jungle vine thicket - Wiki commons/Ethel Aardvark

I found myself watching I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here the other night. I was, probably in equal measure, appalled and interested.
My husband muttered something about the series originally being a social experiment. I don't think it is now. I think the whole thing is designed for maximum 'entertainment value'. One of the contestants wanted to get 'back to my own life, where I'm in control'. 
And I thought of one word : Manipulation. 
These people are being manipulated, told what to do, at the mercy of others who decide whether or not they eat that day. And I think this is what would get to me if I went out there - not the bugs, not the hunger, but the relinquishment of control, of being manipulated.
But are we all being manipulated by those in charge of TV?
I don’t want to see ordinary people on my telly - I want drama, comedy, fantasy, fiction, proper documentary telling me stuff I don’t already know. When I put the telly on, I want to be taken away from real life.
Just as we are being asked to do our own supermarket checkout, we are now being asked to make our own telly. If I wanted to hear what’s being said down the pub, I’d go down the pub. These people surely don’t have equity cards - I wonder what their payment rates are like. It’s cheap telly and we’re all falling for a massive con.
But then I find myself transfixed by Gogglebox and I understand why the TV companies put on so many programmes like this. We have been persuaded that we enjoy it. We have been manipulated. 
File:Punch and Judy Thornton Hough.jpg
Puppet & crowd manipulation Wiki commons/John Puddephatt
I know that many people love and enjoy using Apple products but sometimes, when I see the new versions of expensive items released so quickly after the latest model, I wonder whether these new updates haven't been deliberately withheld in a cynical ploy to make more money out of the consumer. Aren't we, again, being manipulated?
But, as I said, Apple users love their products. Most of my own family are Mac and i-phone users and they tell me their equipment is the best. So, is manipulation all right if we are acquiescent? 
Hmmm ...
Isn't that what authors do - manipulate their readers' emotions? Now, in this instance, my immediate answer would be: I do hope so! 
There it is. I'm culpable. Or I aspire to be. And I do hope my readers go as willingly into the pages of my book and, further, into the time I'm writing about, just as willingly as those celebrities go into the jungle.
The dictionary definition of manipulation is 'to manage or influence skilfully.' 

I'd like to be guilty of that, please!

Other ramblings and insightful interviewees