These days I only ever get to occasionally watch TV at my brother’s house. And over Christmas I watched a bit. A couple of items stood out, both of them like sore thumbs, as very good reasons for not watching TV, and never buying a TV set.
The first one was ITV’s lunchtime national news a day or two back, where the lead news item was about Public Health England’s alarming warning of a UK epidemic of smoking and drinking and eating and lack of exercise that was killing people in droves.
That was the LEAD NEWS ITEM, FFS!!!
Fortunately, smoking was just a part of the tremendous epidemic that was sweeping the UK. There were lots of things killing people in droves, and smoking was just one of them.
Well, Christmas is usually a pretty slow news period, and perhaps there just wasn’t much else to report, so they ran the PHE story. But then we’ve had a spate (an epidemic?) of celebrity deaths: Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt, Wham’s George Michael, Star Wars’ Carrie Fisher (and her mother Debbie Reynolds the very next day), as well as an entire Russian choir in the Black Sea, two minutes after taking off from Sochi. We even had a 30-car pile-up on icy English roads, claiming at least one life. But nope, Public Health England got the lead news item.
I found it a bit ominous. And it set me wondering whether PHE might start getting more and more lead TV news items. What if this sort of “news” started to completely dominate TV? Perhaps it already does?
It’s non-news “news”. Because there isn’t actually a smoking “epidemic”. Nor is there a drinking “epidemic”. Or a fast food eating “epidemic”. Or a sugar or salt “epidemic”. None of these things are epidemics. And they aren’t killing people in droves either. They are illusions, conjured out of nothing. They’re twisting words to try to make them mean something they don’t mean.
The really bad news was that this sort of non-news “news” had managed to make it onto the top news item on ITV’s national news.
The other TV show that drew my attention was this:
Eric Idle and Professor Brian Cox to star in BBC Two musical Christmas special.
Science, Monty Python style
Brian Cox is Britain’s Pretty Face of Science. He’s also a climate change alarmist. He was also once a member of a boy band.
I didn’t watch it, because it was quite obviously going to be super-dumbed-down science. Or non-science “science”. A bit like ITV’s non-news “news”.
A science musical, FFS!
And it seems that these days you need celebrities to drive ratings. Nobody will watch science programmes unless there’s Kim Kardashian’s ass plastered over them. Most celebrities are famous for some reason (like being in a band, or writing a book). But Kim Kardashian is someone who seems to just be a celebrity for just being a celebrity. i.e. she’s a non-celebrity “celebrity”.
Regular readers know that I take a lot of interest in asteroids, and have done so ever since I started wondering whether the Chelyabinsk fireball of 15 Feb 2013 might have been a companion of asteroid 2012 DA14, which passed the Earth on the same day (it could have been, although I’m pretty much the only person in the world who thinks so). And there’s been an upsurge in public interest in asteroids.
And now, of course, there’s the celebrity-driven Asteroid Day:
In February 2014, Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist and famed guitarist for the rock band QUEEN, began working with Grigorij Richters, the director of a new film titled 51 Degrees North, a fictional story of an asteroid impact on London and the resulting human condition. May composed the music for the film and suggested that Richters preview it at Starmus, an event organized by Dr. Garik Israelian and attended by esteemed astrophysicists, scientists and artists, including Dr. Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins and Rick Wakeman. The result was the beginning of discussions that would lead to the launch of Asteroid Day in 2015…
“The more we learn about asteroid impacts, the clearer it became that the human race has been living on borrowed time,” remarked Brian May. “Asteroid Day and the 100X Declaration are ways for the public to contribute to an awareness of the Earth’s vulnerability and the realization that Asteroids hit Earth all the time.” Asteroid Day would the vehicle to garner public support to increase our knowledge of when asteroids might strike and how we can protect ourselves.”
Singer Peter Gabriel is another celebrity signatory. And in a way, almost everyone involved is a celebrity. Stephen Hawking is a celebrity scientist. Richard Dawkins is a celebrity scientist and author. I’m not sure if Kim Kardashian is on board yet.
And I’m wondering whether Asteroid Day’s “asteroid awareness” about “living on borrowed time” on the “vulnerable” Earth is going to merge with Public Health England to give us an “epidemic” of asteroid impacts, that are killing droves of people all over the world, and leading to calls for people to wear hard hats all the time, and live underground.
Why not? After all, as well as being a physicist and famed guitarist, Dr Brian May is also a virulent antismoker.