A Different Sort of Reality TV

I don’t watch TV these days. I don’t want to watch it. I stopped watching years ago.

I think I started to stop watching TV when they stopped allowing smoking on TV. And in the UK that was probably back in the 1990s, if not before.

I had a similar experience with movies. The old cinemas, back in the 50s and 60s, were warm, welcoming, smoky places. Sometime around 1990, maybe earlier, they were sterilised, when smoking was banned in them.

And of course the pubs and restaurants and cafes and clubs were all sterilised in 2007, when smoking was banned in them as well. I only ever sit outside them now, in the gardens where smoking hasn’t (yet) been banned.

Once smoking gets banned somewhere, I get banned there too. Or at least I’m no longer welcome there, so I may as well be banned. So when they banned smoking on TV, they banned me from TV. Or told me I wasn’t welcome there. So I’ve never wanted to appear on TV. Why should I want to appear someplace where I’m not welcome? Why should I want to watch something from which I’ve been banned?

The only time I’ve ever appeared on TV was when the BBC showed up at Stony Stratford and filmed me holding a placard saying “Enough Is Enough.” It now seems to have been all I ever wanted to say to the BBC anyway. If they ever come to interview me, I think I’ll just stand in front of the camera, saying nothing, and holding up a sign saying “Enough Is Enough”. I’ve still got it. On the other side it says “The Fightback Starts Here.” So maybe I’d stand in front of the cameras slowly flipping the sign between the two messages. It’s all I have to say to them.

The BBC no longer speaks for people like me. We’re the Deplorables. They deplore us. And we deplore them. They don’t seem to understand that the deploration(?) is mutual. They don’t like me. And I don’t like them. They want to eradicate me. And I want to eradicate them.

I was thinking this morning that the Smoky Drinky Bar is like watching TV. After all, it’s just watching a screen and listening to a loudspeaker. The difference is that in the Smoky Drinky Bar I can talk back. And I’m welcome there. I can speak to the TV, and engage in a conversation with it. The Smoky Drinky Bar is like watching Coronation Street, but also joining in the conversation in the Rovers Return.

Coronation Street is all entirely scripted. It’s edited and produced and shot on a set. But the Smoky Drinky Bar has no script. There’s no editing either. It’s a conversation. It’s a party. And just like real parties you can arrive too early, or leave too late, when there’s nobody there. It’s just like real life.

In recent years TV has tried to move towards real life. Back in the 1990s Channel 4 had a programme called After Dark, in which a bunch of people – mostly celebrities – sat in armchairs around a table, smoking and drinking and talking. It would go on for hours. I think it was shot live. Oliver Reed appeared in one episode, very very drunk.

Reality TV does a similar thing, putting ordinary people in some situation, and just watching them interacting. But the “reality” is often highly controlled. They’re locked in, for a start. Or locked out. There’s a reality programme called Love Island where – shock, horror -, everyone’s been smoking. I think some of them may have been having sex as well.

But none of these TV shows include the viewer like the Smoky Drinky Bar. It’s a different sort of reality TV. Ordinary TV is essentially a one-way broadcast medium. That’s just the nature of the technology. It’s the technology of top down control. And the top down control is being used to define the message that gets sent, and to normalise some behaviours, and denormalise others (e.g. smoking).

The Smoky Drinky Bar is a pub community. Over the past month of its existence, I’ve felt like I belonged to a community again. I’ve probably talked more in the past month than I have in the past year. It’s been a bit of an overdose, in fact.

I was thinking this morning that the Smoky Drinky Bar would be ideal for the elderly or disabled or hospitalised. From their beds and chairs they could hold long conversations with people all over the world, rather than just stare at a wall, waiting for someone to visit them once a week.

In fact, it might no longer be necessary to have hospitals, if the “hospitalised” were being watched over by hundreds of people all over the world, who were able to keep an eye on them, and raise an alarm if necessary, They could stay in their own homes. And their doctors could visit them via the Smoky Drinky Bar.

And they could smoke.

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About Frank Davis

smoker
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10 Responses to A Different Sort of Reality TV

  1. Joe L. says:

    Slightly OT: “Achievements” have become a popular feature in video games over the past few years. “Achievements” in the video game world are basically awards of some predetermined point value given to a player for accomplishing specific tasks. Pretty much meaningless, aside from bragging rights.

    Well, it appears Canada has decided to it can ride this success by creating a smartphone app that uses a similar system of awarding digital “points” for good lifestyle behaviors in what is one of the creepiest forms of social engineering I have seen yet.

    It’s called “Carrot Rewards,” which I assume is a shameless reference to the old “carrot on a stick,” which is exactly what this system is.

    • Rhys says:

      Let me apologise on behalf of my adopted country. On the good side, mobile phone data is prohibitively expensive here (most expensive in the world, if I recall correctly), and wifi coverage is spotty.

    • Vlad says:

      Ha, of course they have a quiz on smoking :))

    • Tony says:

      It may get a lot worse than that. It seems there are horrendous plans afoot in China:

  2. beobrigitte says:

    Reality TV does a similar thing, putting ordinary people in some situation, and just watching them interacting. But the “reality” is often highly controlled. They’re locked in, for a start. Or locked out. There’s a reality programme called Love Island where – shock, horror -, everyone’s been smoking. I think some of them may have been having sex as well
    Wasn’t there recently an anti-smoker outcry because there was a lot of smoking going on? Apparently the constant bonking going on didn’t bother the viewers, as long as they participants in this reality show didn’t smoke a cigarette after.

    But none of these TV shows include the viewer like the Smoky Drinky Bar.
    […] […]
    The Smoky Drinky Bar is a pub community. Over the past month of its existence, I’ve felt like I belonged to a community again.

    It is a great place; we talk to each other, have a laugh and the hours pass by as quickly as they did back in the times we all sat together in a real pub when there were ashtrays on the table.
    I already had a complaint: “You’re always in da pub and I haven’t heard from you for a few days other than you texting me back, saying you’re in da pub. How about skyping tonight?”
    I texted back that I’d be available for skyping tonight, I thought they’d forget about it. Bad thing is, they remembered and interrupted my pub evening….

    I’ve probably talked more in the past month than I have in the past year. It’s been a bit of an overdose, in fact.
    Ok, I surely stayed up a lot longer of the time since “da pub” opened than I did in the last years. And I laughed a lot more, too. So in that aspect it’s an overdose, On the other hand, amongst all the nonsense we talked there were so many new things/aspects/point-of-views to think about, And I must admit, I feel alive.

    I was thinking this morning that the Smoky Drinky Bar would be ideal for the elderly or disabled or hospitalised. From their beds and chairs they could hold long conversations with people all over the world, rather than just stare at a wall, waiting for someone to visit them once a week.?
    It would be brilliant, except for the fact that smokers in these places would have to go for a cigarette break (walking a looooong way, thus not return within the hour) because tobacco control hates the fact that there are so many old people in this country, despite their “experts” warn that the sight of a smoker kills.

  3. slugbop007 says:

    My youngest brother, Eric, was a smoky drinky cab driver in Los Angeles in the early 1970s. Two of his most memorable pickups were Jean-¨Pierre Rampal and Oliver Reed. He discussed classical music with J.P. Rampal. On the other occasion, Oliver Reed insisted that he accompany him on a bar crawl that eventually ended up late at night at the front door of his best friend, Andrew Parks, son of Betty Garrett and actor Larry Parks of Freud/Al Jolson fame.

    slugbop007

  4. slugbop007 says:

    Here is the Carrot Rewards website link: https://www.carrotrewards.ca/home/

    Eugenics is back in full force. Government sanctioned, just like the Nazis.

    slugbop007

  5. slugbop007 says:

    This is disgusting. More taxpayer dollars now going to the Public Health Network to harass people online. It is also a for profit, money-making scheme. Doubly disgusting. Prime Minister Trudeau most likely supports its agenda. A phony Liberal, unlike his father.

    https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2017/07/11/carrot-rewards-app-gets-15-million-boost-from-ontario-government.html

    slugbop007

  6. RdM says:

    Back in the 1990s Channel 4 had a programme called After Dark, in which a bunch of people – mostly celebrities – sat in armchairs around a table, smoking and drinking and talking.

    Some years ago TVNZ had a parody/satire news programme called “Eating Media Lunch”.

    Here’s a decidedly less than politically correct interview, smoking & drinking.
    Warning: May be offensive to some! (8.01 min)

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