February 26, 2009

The fruition of reality

Sometimes it's difficult not to snort, snirtle and snigger at the younger generations, of which we now have Gen-X, Gen-Y, the Zzzzzs, and the just-being-born generation - the latter currently nameless, because some silly sociologist started at the end of the alphabet, obviously anticipating a not too distant Apocalypse, thus negating the need to allocate a spifffy marketing-ready name to more than only a few generations.

Yes, they will inherit the Earth, the governments, humongous budget deficits, the UN, armies, banks, dodgy derivatives markets, fudged financial instrument, educational institutions, large and small businesses that dot the world, and there's a big part of me that's very grateful I won't ever see what they do with it all.

A goodly dollop of US college students are of the belief that turning up or completing prescribed readings warrant a B grade. If they try really hard, regardless of how abysmal the outcome, they should be rewarded with an even higher mark.

What a happy coinky-dink! That's exactly what employers and the ruling institutions of the world look for too: a warm body to turn up each day and stay awake long enough to grind through some daily instructions.

"I think putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade," Mr. Greenwood said. "What else is there really than the effort that you put in?"

Err. LOTS. Would be my first and second thoughts.

But, I'm not a senior
kinesiology major, so what the heck would I know.

Jason expanded, for the slow witted:

"If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point?" he added. "If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. If your maximum effort can only be average in a teacher's mind, then something is wrong."

Yes something is wrong Jason. It really is.

Trying really hard and crying boo-hoo when your very best effort turns out to be half-witted isn't a glowing endorsement of one's staggering intellectual potential.

Trying really hard yet still not having enough common sense to know your arse from your elbow isn't an A grade outcome.

It's too easy to suggest that such dizzying delusions have sprung from the Oprah inspired high-self-esteem movement. While it is without question a load of crap to fill people with the notion that high self esteem is a prerequisite for high achievement, rather than the vice versa, whiny brats spring from many social and cultural sources.

We live in an era when being famous, being a celebutard, becoming a *personality*, possibly even parlaying all of such into a full time job and wealth too, requires nothing more than being exactly who and what you are, no matter how disturbingly inadequate that might be.

Indeed, the greater the delusions out weigh the inadequacies, the more vast room there is for improvement, all the more likely that one will win a spot on a reality television show somewhere.

Reality television requires nothing of the participant other than that they turn up and follow the instructions.

In return, reality television promises everything.

Nothing says "A grade" more than parading one's self-development, letting it all hand out for the world to see, sharing one's *journey* all the way from being a self-adsorbed blithering show-off to being a high self esteem celebutard with aspirations way beyond one's abilities.

Truman escaped, the audience looked away and got on with things without a grumble, as if Truman had never existed. The real ending was left hanging. Not that anyone cared. Reality is disposable.

Which is where British Jade Goody steps in.

Young, obnoxious, inarticulate and dying.

By any gutter level standard, she's a poster-child for
celebuwrecks everywhere. (Notwithstanding the existence of Amy Winehouse.)

"Before television shone its light on her, Jade Goody was surely destined for a life of hardship and obscurity. Crude-talking, hard-drinking, overweight, barely educated, in debt, the child of drug addicts, she appeared on the reality show Big Brother in 2002 as a kind of token lowlife."

As luck would have it, Goody had commenced an appearance on an Indian Big Brother series late last year when she was told - in the safety and privacy of the diary room - that she had cervical cancer. Millions of viewers shared the important moment.

The initial disease was treated. Goody continued being famous for no reason.

A couple of weeks ago she was told - this time, without an audience of millions - that the cancer had spread to her liver, bowel and groin and that there was nothing the medical profession could do for her.

Goody promptly announced her fate to the public at large.

Released from jail and wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, her boyfriend gallantly stepped in - once the cameras had arrived - to propose marriage.

Not too much risk for a 21 year old lad in offering everlasting love and commitment to a rich single mother of two children who is about to die.

An exclusive of the wedding was sold to OK magazine for a million dollar sum.

The young motherless boys will need a trust fund, after all.

A cable channel is filming Goody's last weeks.

The Prime Minister of Britain crossed a once unimaginable chasm, offering comment on Goody at his monthly news conference:

"The whole country will be worried and anxious about her health"

She turned up, she did nothing and now the Prime Minister of Britain worries about her demise.

"I know some people don't like what I'm doing, but at this point, I don't really care what other people think," she told The News of the World."

Of course, Goody is being disingenuous. She never cared what people thought. She turned up and was exactly herself. Being a rather vile piece of work was a fulfilling, full time and profitable job. It was honest work.

It would all be awfully undignified if Goody had, in some past episode, laid claim to having a scintilla of dignity, but she never has. The public has no right to get all sniffy about decorum at this point.

Goody's publicist claims there are three reasons for Goody sharing her last days in the public domain, but at this stage, not the death itself:

"to earn money to leave to her children; to keep busy through the horror of dying; and to alert young women to the need to have regular tests to detect early signs of cervical cancer."

Can't quibble with that.

But as her death looms, no mention is made of Goody ignoring earlier tests that suggested abnormalities. Perhaps too busy being famous for being no-one at all, she hadn't returned to see her doctor. It's a lesson she isn't spelling out. Can't blame her. No point in torturing herself about what might have been different. Why go there now? Mistakes, she's made a few.

Unless she changes her mind, her death will be off camera, but who knows.

A video of her death on YouTube would almost be a natural conclusion, but there's no money in it.

For some commentators this is all too unseemly:

"This is reality television carried out to its most extreme, grotesque conclusion, one not even envisioned in the film The Truman Show all those years ago."


More grotesque than a person sharing their suicide on the interwebs? That's happened already.

It's not as though Goody is rushing to share an archive of home sex tapes or anything.

This is the ending long envisioned. As a society, we created it.

We don't now get to call it grotesque.

We don't now get, at the last minutes, to beg for dignity where none exists.

This is a reality of our doing.

Suck it up folks.

Jade Goody turned up: Grade A+++

Student expectations are seen as causing grade disputes (What is it with NYTs sub-editors? Have the headlines always been this drippy and I haven't noticed until now?)

Britain's tabloid TV star finds redemption


  1. Jade Goody, and Gale Trimble: a study in merit and ability. Coming to a tabloid newspaper near you!

  2. Being abused, vilified, for being rooly, rooly, rooly, genuinely smart and accomplished?.

    The mystery of Jade Goody as a *personality* is suddenly explained. Not to mention the existence of Jordan.

    The hierarchy of knowledge - and reward - has finally been inverted.

    I'll bet Trimble doesn't even know who Jordan is. And good for her. She'll be needed for saving-the-world type activities in the decades ahead. Along with her clever friends.