At My Dinner Party, I Got To Keep The Prize…

October 28, 2011

Now I have some guilty pleasures. I enjoy the occasional glass of wine at home, even if I’m on my own. I can spend hours playing football games on my laptop and feel that I have in no way wasted my time. And I absolutely love Come Dine With Me and Coach Trip.


Its official, these two TV shows are now a phenomenon. We cannot stop watching 5 people going to each other’s houses and bitching that they haven’t given you a desert spoon but just a regular table spoon to eat the food the host has slaved over for hours on end. Neither can we stop watching random people paired up gallivanting around Europe while Brendan gives out yellow cards more than Howard Webb in the cup final. There’s something utterly fascinating about social power-play, and both these shows abuse it thoroughly, until it almost seems to encourage us to leave any dinner party we go to bitching about any modicum of issue that we might have had a problem with had we not have secretly enjoyed it.


But this isn’t the issue I wish to raise. No, what I would like to discuss is the ‘celebrity’ spin offs of both these shows and many others besides. I use apostrophise around celebrity because we can all agree the majority of the people involved on these shows cannot possibly be considered celebrity: I swear I’ve been on television more times than they have, and I’ve never been on television. Suddenly these shows  become a parable of egomania as almost everyone involved on the shows, from the people themselves to the voiceover man lambasting the participants, proverbially bow down to these deities like they stand atop Mount Olympus. Of course, it’s not all worship, as any prize money that might have been offered to ‘regular’ people will be donated to charity, because of course these super-rich individuals couldn’t possibly need any more money. I mean, their on television, so they must be rich. Right?


Erm, well no. Sure, some of them may have quite a lot of money from previous television endeavours, of a now fledgling music career or whatever the production team can justify they did once that makes them famous. But most of these celebrity-types are probably in the red; they’ve been out of work for a long while (hence degrading themselves further by involving themselves on these shows) and many won’t be any better off than some of the normal participants would be.


I’m not saying here that they should win the money; the fact that a charity can benefit from these television shows can only be a good thing (the fact many other charities miss out on this potentially vital money is apparently ignorable). But put simply, our society seems to be ever more creating a ‘celebrity class’, in which ‘normal’ people idolise certain individuals who we see on television and believe we must emulate them and achieve their astounding success and riches. They’ve done so many wonderful things for society, and we muggles must bow down to them, desire to step in their shoes and work as hard as we can to achieve similar status.


OK so now I’m just being cynical. Within this celebrity class do come some people who have done great work for society and achieved much in their lives (despite what you may think you cannot deny people like Sir Bob Geldof and Bono have used their position to do some positive things). But let’s be honest, how many young girls will tell you they want to be Katy Perry or Katie Price when they’re older? Is it not a statement on our society that not many would ever say their local doctor or the teachers that work tirelessly every day at their school?


It would be a bit of a stretch too far to possibly suggest children are watching celebrity Coach Trip and wanting to be like the man on it who did the thing once and is now falling over his ski’s in the French Alps. But it just seems sad that in our modern technological society we are all under some sort of trance that the people on the other side of the television are somehow better people than us who all live in the celebrity mansion and have parties on their celebrity boats and drink from their solid gold celebrity chalices. Because for the most part, they’re not. In fact they’re just as ‘normal’ as you or me. Except we’re allowed to keep the prize money.


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