Fifth Column: Despair Floats (Issue 4)

Do you have any talent? Have you the ability to enthrall people with your artistry? Do your articles and short stories inspire or move your readers? Perhaps you’re a halfway decent singer or sculptor? If so, then I’m afraid there’s very little hope of you gaining the recognition you deserve in our society, especially if you’re just starting out and looking for an opening.

The agent’s books are closed, the publicists have all been hired and the television schedules are full. Full to the margins with brain-dulling mediocrity, fame hungry chancers and crass opportunists. Everywhere you care not to look can be found the bastard offspring of Capitalism and Ignorance.

Individuals who, but for television or the law courts, would have stayed in blissful localised obscurity, now infiltrate our lives to an inescapable degree. They proliferate among the glossy pages of countless teen magazines (so called because the average IQ of their readers is greater than 12 but less than 20) feeding on the nourishing adulation of that section of society that idolises superficiality and ridicules genius.

I use the word “inescapable” because I’m willing to venture that no matter which newspaper you read, television channel you watch or radio station you listen to, your life will have been touched, or rather, molested, by the likes of Jade Goody, Jordan and her paramour, Peter, or Paul Danan or Calum Best or Rebecca Loos or that bloke that won X-Factor a couple of years ago whose name no-one can remember or……or……or…… The list is long and spectacularly unedifying and yet the fate of that last-mentioned person illustrates perfectly the transient nature of instant celebrity status.

A simple, but apt, rule in nature states that the brighter and more fierce a flame burns, the shorter lived it is. Combine that with a distinct lack of combustible material in the first place and you have a salutary lesson for all wannabees and a pleasing dollop of cosmic justice for the rest of us.

Now, having said all of that, I wouldn’t want to give the impression that I’m against talent shows or any other form of showcase that allows people to display their abilities and, hopefully, gives a platform to those with something to share. Some of our greatest singers, comedians, writers, dancers, entertainers of all kinds would never have been brought to our attention if no-one had taken a chance and given them a national stage on which to broadcast their talent. They might have remained on the circuit, schlepping around the clubs and local halls giving renditions of Nessun Dorma to twenty crack-hardened schoolchildren in Walsall or reciting their latest blank verse epic to thirty rain-sodden pensioners in Uttoxeter.

However, the opportunities for genuine talent to emerge and enrich all our lives are becoming far fewer thanks to the present-day blind fascination with nonentities. It may be argued that those with any sort of ability, especially when allied to genius, will always rise like the proverbial cream to the top. Indeed, with determination, dedication, perseverance and a little luck this may very well be the case.

However, why should a talented individual have to endure years of hardship, struggle and rejection to achieve recognition, when a loud, self-obsessed ignoramus can have it shovelled onto them in heaps merely because they’ve slept with someone famous, sued someone important or shown their tits to someone with a camera? It’s a sobering thought (and, ironically, one that could drive you to drink in the first place) that the vast majority of under-25s could instantly tell you all about Jade or Jordan and their immediate families, but would stare at you blankly if you mentioned Dickens or Beckett.More often than not, the cream is overlooked because the focus is on the clots.

So, if there are any directors, producers or editors among our half dozen readers, I urge them to listen to my plea. Let’s have fewer “reality” TV shows where Joe and Jane Citizen are plucked from obscurity and given their own shows because they shout and whine incessantly; fewer books from “celebrities” who have probably never so much as written a note to their smack dealer; and more, a great deal more, output from those with something to say and the ability to say it with style, grace, emotion and descriptive brilliance. It can only benefit us all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *