Cage: A New Stage

Reality TV is finished.

In reality, of course, the term 'Reality TV' was always a misnomer: it should have been dubbed 'Unreality TV' from its inception, because it was as rigged and artificial as a pantomime.

Unreality TV, which can be dated from approximately 2000 onwards, was the spectacular manifestation of an underlying economic system based on unreal agglomerations of unreal debt that was accelerating ever faster towards eventual crisis. This is what George Soros refers to as the thirty year 'superbubble' composed out of a false paradigm of market fundamentalism that markets are self-correcting and tend towards equilibrium. The false paradigm gave birth to ever more unreal television programmes which reached their peak (or more accurately nadir) in the previous decade, a decade that W.H.Auden might have called low and dishonest were he still around to see it. Along with their unreality, they were increasingly characterised by sadism and humiliation. They were also characterised by the fragmentation of attention: there is no point medicalising entire generations as suffering from 'attention deficit disorder' if what dominates the television screen are spectacles as hyperactive as a small child after an overdose of E numbers at a birthday party. Future generations may well wonder what on earth people were thinking, the way that we look back today at the Roman gladiatorial arenas and scratch our heads at the notion that it was family entertainment.

At this juncture, it is sensible to pause from all that chaos and reflect.  From Calens to Christmas the winter season has historically been a good time to stop and let that which has passed pass into the past. The campaign to make John Cage's 4'33'' the number one single this Christmas is, therefore, utterly inspired. The comments by the Xfm DJ Eddy Temple-Morris on suicide in particular are vital: instead of our public voices being monopolised by the figures on Unreality TV shows, we need voices to come forth about our social realities today. In our new decade it is high time for some real reality television and a revivification of real conversation. It is time for the silent to be unsilenced


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