Thursday, 30 October 2008

They Walk Among Us: Ross & Brand Meet The Zombies

Britain has become infected. A swarm of freaks walk among us. Befuddled and aimless, they shamble through existence feeding off the misery and humiliation of others. I am talking about The Bleaters.

The Bleaters revel in public outrage and thrive on contempt for other human beings. The Bleaters swarm from one moral panic to another, feast on its remains and infect others with their virus. They exist in all walks of life. They are builders, housewives, call centre workers, middle managers, senior managers, journalists, politicians. The list is endless. So desperate are they to give meaning to their own lives that they will happily poke their noses into other peoples, searching in vain for validation.

Their latest feast is on a 78 year old actor who was a victim to a very crude and extremely public practical joke by a comedian and a chat chow host. The perpetrators (Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand) have become objects of hatred by The Bleaters. While their favourite newspaper's circulation balloons, they gorge themselves on the crass ineptitude of and for a few moments, forget about house repossessions, global economic collapse, 50,000 Congolese rendered homeless because of civil war and countless dead from an Earthquake in Pakistan.

Ross & Brand is a classic, obvious case of mass delusion. It harks back to happier times when things like this mattered and it protects us from the reality of these uncertain and unpleasant times. Its an excuse for news editors to move away from the gloom and depression and swell the coffers a bit with some mindless tittle-tattle. It's an opportunity for politicians to blame someone else for something else or to promote their own agenda which probably has something to do with the TV Licence and shares in commercial television.

Backing them up is this mass of flesh, this rump. An ever expanding demograph of outraged, pointless boneheads who are only too happy to be angry and disgusted about anything they see or hear as long as someone has told them about it first. At the time of Ross & Brand's outburst, only two people complained. The thousands of others only heard about it in the Tabloids. Some would have read the transcripts, other seen the clips on YouTube and letched over the 23 year old burlesque dancer. However, only two of them were actually listening and were able to judge the incident in its full context. Everyone else allowed Sky News and the Daily Mail to establish it for them.

This latest media driven moment of BBC bashing and moral outrage is a perfect example of self consumption. The story is no longer about Ross, Brand, Sachs or his granddaughter Georgina Baillie (who couldn't get herself down to the Sun's studios quick enough). It has become a story about the story. The Bleaters have gone from complaining about the story to becoming the story itself. They are gorging on their own flesh like cannabilistic Zombies.

How glorious then that the schedulers at E4 chose to run Dead Set through the week with almost conspiratorial timing. Charlie Brooker's Zombie horror show tells the tale of the Big Brother House's attempt to survive a Zombie outbreak. While aficionados of the genre should approve, no one should lose sight of the real horror. We are all eating ourselves and screaming out in anguish while we watch it happen.


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