It is clear from
listening to this morning's
edition of Feedback that the BBC (in for example the person of Mark
Thompson) has learned nothing at all from the Ross-Brand-Sachs affair.
1. Thompson still thinks the BBC is in trouble through an event. An
'envelope' being 'pushed too far'. But Brand and Ross wouldn't know an
envelope if they saw it and if they were in one (which ironically they
are) couldn't find their way out if they tried.
Pushers of envelopes are for instance Jimmy Carr and Al Murray, both of
them brilliant, very funny and never, never, ever offensive to anybody
individually, nationally, culturally, ethnically or philosophically. I
suggest Mr Thompson watches Jimmy Carr: Stand Up (after
watching Alan Clarke's Civilization; Heroic Materialism
episode all through, not just the beginning). They are both envelope
pushing to make people laugh and also think.
In their day the Two Ronnies pushed the odd envelope very well, and
some American comedians. Some of those are still funny when replayed
now, others not as they confused pushing envelopes in humour with using
offensive language and making fun of people who are modest and
in their behaviour. Those with limited comedic ability are likely to do
that when they are under pressure to fulfill audience expectations and
an inflated salary.
2. It does not matter in the least if Sachs' granddaughter is offended
or upset - if you sleep with Russel Brand you take the consequences.
Only good can come out of that. Nor does it matter if Sachs is upset -
he can sue if he wants to.
3. Confusion over political correctness has been responsible for so
called envelope pushing in other directions.
4. What is at issue is the apparent importance our society attributes
to Ross, Brand and many others. A measure of this is indicated by their
salaries and their exposure. One listener was outraged by the fact that
Gordon Brown and Cameron were moved to speak publicly about this when
there are problems all over the world needing their attention. I agree
entirely. But what this listener and the BBC both fail to understand is
the connection between the reign of Ross and Brand in the UK as public
icons and the problems all over the world. Neither that listener or Mr
Thompson sees the connection and that is where the real problem lies.
The reason for the disintegration of order in societies all over the
world is the total collapse of respect for authority and standards.
Certain nations used to be looked up to as examples of discipline and
authority based on long term, traditional serious attempts at exemplary
and responsible behaviour. No matter the failures - these were not
lauded. No matter the mistakes, they are always found out. But never,
ever, did the likes of Ross and Brand have a following that exceeded
those of previous national heroes in literature, politics, the
military, science, trade and industry.
Look at the statues that decorate our capital cities. These are the men
that the leaders, whether national or tribal, of the world's far flung
peoples respected and came to see. Their works were admired, their
speeches and aphorisms remembered. They were also the role models.
Today, nobody who has taken the trouble in some far off country to
learn English would be able to decipher the noise coming out of Brand's
mouth and more than foreigners on the London Underground or National
Rail can understand the announcements unless they are those recorded in
advance by professionals. Videos of UK TV are used all over the world
to recruit young people in the cause of bringing down the world leader
that is now a joke
It seems that by catering to a certain part of British youth in a
desperate effort to make them seem mediatically valued, no standards
are set in either speech, behaviour or vocabulary. If I go to France,
everything that is said on TV, in public announcements and in written
notices is clear, grammatical, properly spelled and clearly enunciated.
A Provencal accent is different from a Parisian only because it
slightly easier on the ear for the English, just as Irish or Scots used
to be over here and still is compare to to glottally stopped
blatherings of non-locational ethnically baseless noise we here ever
more of over the air in the UK.
The UK and the US - the Anglo Saxon world, has lost self-respect and as
a result is a leader in the breakdown of any respect. Authority is
based on confidence, confidence and respect are linked. The failure of
one risks the failure of the other. A typical result is that order is
imposed only through force. Force imposed without respected authority
is hard to distinguish from violence. The difference between force and
violence in the public perception and the mind of authority is the very
cornerstone of civilisation. This failure is the reason for the
humanitarian disasters in Africa and elsewhere.
The cult of celebrity is half of an equation on which the other side
has developed to match. Instead of leaders we have managers, managers
of the world of celebrity. The people the BBC has produced to discuss
the matter of Ross and Brand and by implication the people above and
around them clearly have not the calibre required for this period of
history to be leaders.
Perhaps this does not matter. Perhaps a leaderless world is exactly
what is required just now. Let us just see what the mix, as it
ferments, produces. Nevertheless the confusion and ignorance is
reaching an extraordinary peak, putting quite a strain on the
functional parts of society (the UK military for instance, never in
better hands in some respects). Ross should be sacked not suspended,
Brand should never have been hired - I suppose that is why the BBC exec
who hired him has resigned, an otherwise popular and efficient lady. If
she hired she should be able to fire and should have done, both of them.
The confusion in the analysis of social phenomena is quite amusing or
could be if not sad. A classic example:
The study, published in the
International Journal of
Epidemiology, found boys born to light drinkers were 40% less likely to
have conduct problems and 30% less likely to be hyperactive than those
whose mothers had abstained.
The link above
is to a story which reveals a
statistic which causes a problem, we are told. How to explain and
interpret it. The explanation is very simple.
1. Moderate alcohol consumption is a natural part of the human diet and
has been for millennia for most races.
2. Parents who are light (or even low-medium) drinkers are by
definition those able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage without it
altering their personality, causing addiction or encouraging abuse.
They are likely to have children with similar intrinsic traits
including self-control, reinforced by both example and upbringing
supplied by the same parents - nurture reinforcing nature. This will
tend to make them intelligent, attentive, good learners and well
3. A moderate intake of well made alcoholic beverages is good for the
metabolism and for the mind in most people. Those who have genetic or
environmental circumstances that render this invalid should avoid the
Yet this straightforward explanation seems to have eluded all
commentators and researchers. The best they could come up with was a
politically correct mis-hit:
"The reasons behind these
findings might in part be because light
drinkers tend to be more socially advantaged than abstainers, rather
than being due to the physical benefits of low level alcohol
consumption seen, for example, in heart disease.
"However, it may also be that
light-drinking mothers tend to be
more relaxed themselves and this contributes to better behavioural and
cognitive outcomes in their children."
As for the
other commentators they think the
results should be treated as giving the wrong message. In short,
everyone, no matter what view they actually hold, has to dance around
mouthing what they think is politically correct. The envelope that
needs pushing in this country is to get people who understand which way
is up, on the TV and Radio, talking the truth out loud.
FEBRUARY 26th 2010
OK, now we have reached, thanks to relative collapse of western
economies, a stituation where the BBC's secure financial base in the
license fee is seriously resented by the commercial broadcasters. So
instead of being a stabilising force, able to retain is services and
employees and outsourced contracts at a time when nothing is more
needed, the BBC will be forced on the grounds of 'fairness' to cut back
on many of its greatly valued services. There is nothing free-market
theorists hate more than the success of any effectively nationalised
institution, even if it is completely independent of government in its
operation and policies.
The BBC will of course give in and relinquish some of its projects,
cutting back, we are told, on some web services. This will in theory
save money (how can it? Are we to see a reduction in the license
fee???) and give some room for commercial competitors who apparently
finance the services by getting audiences, viewers etc. to pay for
goods and services they don't need and would not otherwise buy if it
were not for the advertising they carry, or take out subscriptions for
complex packages of which most people only want one of the pile of
stuff bundled. Oh well, such is life, we have to go along with all
these earnest, confused, self-serving shakers and movers. At least
Jonathan Ross's salary has hit the waste-paper basket.
foreign imported programs means more home-grown, that's OK.
So the license fee is to be
frozen for a year, possibly more. A reduction is then not impossible.
This is in recognition of the obvious loss in wealth of the average UK
citizen. The retiring chairman of the BBC trust has announced
this proposal, the government is to take the actual decisions. The
simple fact that nobody has the nous or personality to point out is
that every single person employed by or paid by the BBC, earning more
than a certain minimum a year could take a pay cut of the required
percent to balance the BBC books on any 'job' or contract or salary
without their world coming to an end.
The public should not be in a
competition for their talents with other broadcasters, buying them for
the BBC if there are others who will bring them and their talents to
us. The idea of it being our great privilege to have e.g. Jonathan Ross
on the BBC when there are many other channels he can be bought by if
they want him was always ridiculous. That is an extreme case, but the
same applies to anyone paid a celebrity salary more than the minimum
rate for the professional job. £144 million pounds spread
properly could be saved without any effect on programmes or anything
else other than the pockets of people who are far from on the
breadline. Selling of assets is not required either unless its a good
idea (which exceptionally it might)
OCTOBER 6th 2010
BBC says this will be the most far-reaching transformation in its
history, changing how - and where - it operates.
of the savings are due to come from finding cheaper ways of working,
through new technology, job cuts and new terms and conditions for BBC
with no TV channel or radio station facing closure, few expect
licence-fee payers to be marching on Broadcasting House
ahead of Thompson, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten explained how the trust
will consult licence fee payers on the plans. The public will have
until the end of the year to respond.
I have no comment to make at this stage.