Literally anything is entertainment now. A few years ago, I thought that television had hit a whole new low with the likes of TOWIE, where hordes of posh, uneducated dickheads have arguments, fall in love, cheat on each other and spend uncomfortable amounts of time talking about goats and their beards. (No, really- just go ahead and Google it if you don’t believe me). However, it seems that all this did was spawn a whole host of copycat shows including Made In Chelsea and Geordie Shore, which both made me even more depressed and also more determined to prove that the world is better off without bad programming. The world doesn’t listen, though- and here are six more reasons why humanity is doomed simply because our networks have run out of feasible ideas.
Jousting is now apparently entertainment
Short of A Knight’s Tale, there isn’t really much in the way of ‘thrills’ to be found from jousting, and I’m pretty sure that most of the reason for that movie’s success was Heath Ledger’s attractive face and the fact that Queen featured of the soundtrack. It certainly didn’t do any harm is what I’m saying…
Although, apparently, nobody told the producers of Full Metal Jousting, who noticed that jousting was a legitimate modern day sport that people were actually still actively competing in. Sure, the world has it’s fair share of obscure sports, but even the weirdest of them have something entertaining about them- Camel football, for example, features camels playing football. Jousting, though, was never that entertaining to begin with. Basically, two full grown men jump on horses, charge towards each other holding long spears that are clearly compensating for some shortcoming or another, and one of them knocks the other off the horse. That’s it. And it normally happens so quickly that it really doesn’t work that well as a spectator sport.
However, in the USA, this sort of show really works. They caught up with a bunch of insane fanatics who take part in this sport and, in order to really make the show a spectacle, they replay every battle in epic slow motion, so that the audience can relive the tedious action at a tediously slow pace. There’s only so many times you can watch two men position spears at each other in slow motion until it starts to feel a little bit homo-erotic. To update the show for the 21st century, though, the producers have given the competitors cool armour that makes them look like extras from a really, really low budget remake of Iron Man. They also all look like they’re rejects from a failed thrash metal band audition.
The show is still going strong, which just shows what evils America is capable of producing. If they had any sense, they’d have abandoned the horses and replaced them with quad bikes. At least that way we’d be one step closer to making Mad Max into reality.
Catching potential child molesters isn’t a sport (but is equally as entertaining)
America just keeps on giving, it seems. As part of the Dateline NBC broadcasts, a feature is run that is creatively titled To Catch A Predator. Basically, Chris Hansen (the presenter), a man who looks a little bit like a child molester himself, hides out in an abandoned house where sexual predators turn up to engage in kinky affairs with an actor who they believe is underage. Its essentially a police sting to catch predators, but we get the added joy of watching it live on television.
I have to admit, having once or twice watched this show out of curiosity, that it has a certain charm about it. There’s something undeniably hilarious about those adults who claim that they had no intention of having sex with anyone, and who then further deny it when they are searched and are found to be carrying nothing but lube, condoms and a porn DVD. They still deny it, though, and even talk about hanging out as friends, which isn’t as criminal but is still a little creepy when you consider they wee fully aware this person is underage, and travelled a fair distance to be their friend. None of it sounds particularly good.
Of course, what makes it more entertaining is that, as an audience, we know each person is going to be confronted by Chris, who sits each potential predator down and talks to them in a very patronising manner that comes across as a mix between a job interview and a very disappointed parent. It’s what the person deserves, of course, which is what makes us extra happy- its satisfying seeing dangerous people brought to justice, but also made to squirm when they are caught out and scrutinised. Sometimes they even make a run for it, only to make it a few yards and encounter armed police, who immediately arrest them. Like I said…its still a sting operation, albeit a televised one.
You can watch this show on YouTube, and it honestly is more entertaining than the initial premise sounds- although it worries me that a show has to be entertaining in this way when the real intention is to provide a cautionary tale about online threats to children’s safety.
Sex Box is just…uncomfortable viewing
Sex Box is a pretty self-explanatory title. Basically, the aim of the game- if you can call it that- is to have sex. It’s not even really a game show- it’s more of a chat show with the added elements of sex hair, sweat and shame.
The premise is simple- couples come onto the show and have sex. Not live in front of a camera, but in a cubicle just off to one side which, frankly, wouldn’t exactly put me in the mood for making love. Essentially, the couples go into the box, have sex, put their clothes back on (assuming they felt steamy enough to take them off in the first place) and then return to a live studio audience where they talk about their experiences.
And what’s worse is that this isn’t some sort of weird Japanese export: it’s a legitimate show featuring British couples, hosted by a British team and shown on British television. After having sex, the couples have to describe their sex, and they are even encouraged to go into detail about what they did, how they did it and what it felt like. Some of the couples are surprisingly open but others are visibly sheepish- as if they realise that making a decent amount of money isn’t compensation for embarrassing yourself in front of the whole nation. There’s obviously some sort of contractual obligation, though, as even the most awkward of couples end up spilling their details in front of the cameras.
Now, the idea is a novel one, and I am a big advocate of people being more open about sex. If nothing else, it may result in less teenage pregnancies, and as its a natural part of life we shouldn’t be so taboo about it. However, it is also fair to say that the majority of us enjoy the privacy of having sex behind closed doors, and those of us who get thrills from people watching have dogging or those weird webcam sex sites to keep us occupied. There’s absolutely no way I would feel comfortable having sex in a box and then walking out and telling people about it. I like sex, and I have sex, and I think it’s okay to talk about sex as a general thing…I just don’t want to spend time telling people what gets me off.
It’s oysters, by the way. Oysters are massively kinky.
Japan always has something even weirder
For a while, my only real experience of Japan were Takeshi’s Castle and Godzilla- one of which was about a giant lizard stomping cities to dust, and the other of which was about hundreds of unstable, possibly desperate Japanese people submitting themselves to different forms of physical aim masquerading as challenges until they made it to the end of the competition, which was rarely ever won. It turns out Japan has a whole lot more crazy lurking beneath its upper layers, though.
Sing What Happens Next is when you take Sex Box, pump things up to a porn star level and then decide it’ll only really work in a game show format. Of course this comes from Japan! The premise is simple, but still weird. Here’s the actual, official synopsis of the show:
“In this program, several candidates must sing a song they learned off by heart and not to be distracted by the young lady who is beside them and is masturbating them, sometimes with her hands, sometimes using her feet.
“These candidates must carry a tune in absurd conditions, without being distracted and if possible until ejaculation. In the video above, this is the winner of the show, who achieved a score of 74 out of 100 and won a lot of products and sex toys, gel, etc”
Well, isn’t that lovely? The strangest thing is that, after having been essentially sexuall assaulted whilst singing, the winner has the honour of being given lots of sex toys and sex gel products. For me, I don’t think I’d appreciate the gifts. There’s a fair chance I’d never want to have sex again, because every time I did, I’d feel obligated to sing a rendition of Metallica’s Enter Sandman. That’s a pretty assured way to make the whole experience a whole lot more awkward.
In the show’s defence, it doesn’t actually show the act itself, and you get lots of shots of the contestant’s contorted face as he tries to sing a song. Understandably, they’re going to be a little distracted, which adds to the challenge of the whole show, but you have to feel that there’s only so much you can do with a show like this. Plus I’m pretty sure it has zero outside appeal and, judging from its budget, it has very little cultural impact in Japan. And Japan is a country that has created a whole fetish out of tentacles, for crying out loud!
Beyond Scared Straight traumatises kids
Over here in Britain, we have out fair share of trouble from the youths. We have children as young as 12 smoking cigarettes, and our answer seems to be either Jeremy Kyle, counselling, or Supernanny. That’s it. That’s as far as our choices go. In America, though, there’s the option to traumatise your kids for life by sending them to prison.
Beyond Scared Straight is a show where troublesome teens are sent to a prison with real inmates, where they experience prison life first hand. Okay, so it’s watered down a little- they’re not shanked in the gangway or taken advantage of in the showers if they drop the soap. But the inmates they speak to (or get yelled at by, more accurately) are real criminals, people who got involved in gangs and drugs and who genuinely want to see these kids take the right path in their lives. Of course, they’re kept away from the truly violent prisoners because, whilst it would make good television, I’m pretty sure even America has laws regarding setting murdering psychopaths loose around young offenders.
Even so, we see that even the ‘toughest’ kid is broken down. After a few hours seeing how tough prison life, and after having to spend a night in a cell surrounded by rowdy, bored criminals, they’re pretty eager to turn their life around. For a teenager who is only months away from being old enough to end up in a cell, it can act as a timely lesson, but the show is just as likely to traumatise the children involved. In one infamous episode, two brothers were submitted to the show who were young- very young. As in…10 and 12 years old young. Now, they thought they were pretty tough, but after a few minutes in the presence of actual tough people, they were ready to go home, hug their parents, apologise and never do anything bad ever again. A logical person would’ve sent them home at the first sign of tears, but that wouldn’t make good television. It didn’t matter that the show had achieved its goal of scaring them straight, because viewer ratings are important. So, even though these poor boys were in tears within minutes, they were forced to undergo the whole experience until they were literally begging to go home. At one point, they had to speak to their parents through prison glass, the same way convicted criminals do, and you could see from their eyes that they were already dead inside. The show continued and, as you can probably guess, the boys were eventually allowed to leave. They most likely lived the rest of their lives as model children, terrified of the one time they stepped out of line and were sent back to the land of their nightmares again.
I hope the show included the money for counselling sessions as part of the payment for the parents.
Space Cadets made average people look like idiots
In the early 2000s, Channel 4, the UK’s fastest rising channel, wanted to break the boundaries of television and in turn win thousands of new viewers. Reality TV was huge, a horrible fact that hadn’t changed a decade later, and they wanted to try something new with it- taking normal people into space.
Although, not really…it was all an elaborate hoax that was part of the one-off show Space Cadets.
The contestants, who were both too hopeful and too stupid to ask questions, truly believed they had signed up for a space project. The audience- the millions watching as home and laughing themselves silly- knew that all of this was a bit trick, but that was all part of the fun. And boy was it funny! To start with, the contestants were put through training, which included anti-gravity, survival and combat, because they were told there was a small (although possible) threat that they might meet confrontational alien life. They went along with it all: again, I can’t emphasise enough that these people weren’t exactly example of humanity’s evolutionary greatness.
At one point, one of the foolish guinea pigs/test subjects, truly believing he is in space (when in reality he’s walking around a weird capsule in a studio), takes a bite out of an apple and places it on the table in front of him. He then talks for what feels like two years about he is sure the apple is taking longer to ‘go brown’ because of the lack of gravity in space. I’m surprised, firstly, that he knew about gravity, although it puzzles me how he felt the need to wonder about gravity when he himself was walking around the apparently spaceship as if it was normal. Sure, anti-gravity exists, and the contestants were told it was being used on them, but didn’t they stop for one second to think about it logically?
I mean, if NASA can’t find the money to put anti-gravity functionality on the International Space Station, there isn’t much chance they’re going to blow their budget using it for a bunch of borderline amoebas with human bodies. In the end, the show ran for a solid 7 consecutive days in December 2005 before never being aired again, probably because even Channel 4 realised the hoax wouldn’t work for a second time. Instead, they went on to give us Big Brother 1000, which I suppose is further evidence as to why humanity is doomed…