Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Witness For The Prosecution

Today, I’m in more of a quizzical frame of mind than normal… asking the question why over and over again. From where I sit, cogitating the good and the downright lousy in this life, masticating on the bread and butter of humdrum and chewing the cud of frustration, I’ve a whole host of why’s hovering over my fertile imagination like a nasty dose of cumulo-nimbus.

Why - as just one example - does it take so long for some people to respond when it takes others mere peco-seconds? Why, as another example, do certain people simply quash the radar of communication without apparent reason? Why (or how) can the sun shine and yet it feels interminably cold? Why is ‘Reality TV’ relevant? And, why is it that some people believe in what is termed multi-tasking?

I remember once calling a girlfriend of not terribly long ago; she was at her corporate desk and in the background I could hear the clickety-clack of her perfectly polished nails tapping out an e-mail or an internal memo or a briefing document whilst we talked.

After a few minutes it became clear that her concentration wasn’t exactly one zillion-percent on the subject in hand - the one that, I had (selfishly) imagined we were meant to be discussing. She was in her office so, yes, it can (rightly) be argued that I shouldn’t have made the call in the first place but, when a reply came back to a question I hadn’t asked in the first instance, it dawned on me that perhaps we’d be better off discussing subject X at another time. So, somewhat foolishly, I suggested that we’d be better off doing precisely that.

Error #1. Why? Because I was informed in little less than stentorian tones that ‘women can multi-task’.

Of course you can, dear… it’s because you're from Venus and we men are from… yeah, you’ve got the picture.

Actually, I think thats all bollox - could I multi-task while writing this? Take a Project X related conference call that’d link Toronto to me by way of Sydney and contribute properly while tapping away at this? Absolutely not…

Firstly it’d be totally disrespectful to colleagues far away and second, this’d become even more random, more shambolic than ever… with probable thought processes heading off up dark alley-ways from which it’d be nigh on impossible to extricate oneself. Multi-tasking… its all in the mind.

As is this whole madness of so-called Reality TV. And thats the real worry.

What, I wonder, is it teaching - or telling - our children?

Isn't this a concern...? UK Culture Minister Barbara Follett was quoted today by saying, ‘Kids nowadays just want to be famous. If you ask little girls, they either want to be footballers' wives or win the X Factor.’ Six months ago, a survey for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Britain found that 60% of teachers questioned said their pupils most aspired to be David Beckham.

Dunno know about you but that scares the shit out of me.

Hell… when I was that age, I wanted to be a fireman. A bit later on I aspired to being a long-distance lorry-driver. I did, I confess, have a bit of yearning to be a Cowboy but maybe that was because of what was on (un)Reality TV when I was younger. But, the nearest my brother or I got to that ‘reality’ was watching the Lone Ranger and Tonto clambering back from the brink of disaster (at that point we’d taken up our respective positions behind the couch, terrified that our heroes would get clobbered). However, they always came good in the end by disarming the baddies and handing them over to the Sherriff of Dead Man’s Gulch.

So... the lesson - subliminal that it was - that we learned was quite simple, good conquered evil.

So why is that I'm sitting here - Canute-like, trying to stop the wave of absurdity that’s purveyed as entertainment - tittle-tattle-trash-entertainment? Its because… oh don’t please stop me now, I’m all worked up and in full-on rant / grumpy old bastrad mode… because, because... I’ve come to believe that the yoof of today simply don’t have anything of substance put in front of them.

Put in entirely simplistic terms, there is no differentiation between good and downright evil.

Don't believe me? OK... check this out... how was it that the Christmas 2007 edition of EastEnders ended with one bloke throwing his wife downstairs, the programme ending with the audience being left believing he'd killed her. Was that a good influence on...?

It can be argued that the Lone Ranger and Tonto’s weekly black and white adventures weren’t exactly brain of Britain material but, at least we (my brother and I) knew it was escapism - well, that was when we weren’t chasing one another round the garden with makeshift bows and arrows.

But nowadays, people believe in these unbelievable soap opera characters, they follow them - in their millions. This (for example) mad(dening) Jungle thing… I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here..? They’ve got to be having a laugh, haven’t they… the programme makers… a cast of Z-is-dead list of so-called Celebs swanning about in so-called Jungle conditions… eating absolute shite… Malcolm McLaren was right a couple of series back - get paid to travel there first class and then plead a prior engagement like washing his hair and pissing off. And then, Strictly Come Waltzing Matilda... at least one of the contestants has had the good sense to resign 'cos he realised it was all a joke. And Much Older Very Stupid Badly Behaved Brother - who honestly wants to be Jane (or is Jade) Goody?

Doesn’t anyone know where the off-button is on their remote any more?

If people want to watch all that sort of crap - so be it… and, as much as it may read the other way, I'm not arguing the case for or against.

What I am simply - OK, so its a bit of a ramble - suggesting is... shouldn’t there be something of an alternative… to balance it all up a bit, something that gives this emerging generation that we've brought into the world something to aspire to?

If not, won’t this new generation just grow up with ever-limiting horizons… with little to aspire to? Isn’t it a responsibility of those of us who are a bit older to open their eyes a little?

And, if that can’t be done on TV - which, I’d suggest is all but a lost cause nowadays, then why not begin in the schools and colleges.

And teach the kids of today, the business leaders of tomorrow to be… aspirational.

To push their individual envelopes of ambition and help them see beyond a street named Coronation or a boozer named after a Queen where shaven-headed blokes stage-whisper to each other about hurting people.

Let the kids learn by example - and, the best people to give that information are from the workplace.

Which makes me think of the objectives that are absolutely central to Project X.

Which, in turn, leads me to ask another of the Why’s… and its one I can’t - today - answer. Maybe I shall be able to tomorrow.

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