So it has been a week since my last blog post, and it seems the world of tabloid fuelled celebrity has been turned on its head.
I am not going to try and write anything regarding the scandal, other than the allegations are deplorable, but unsurprising.
But it did make me think. Much has been made of the rise of 'celebrity' culture, but that has been around a long time. Nelson, Rhodes, Wellington were all superstars of their day. Even the celebrity 'villain' goes a long way back (Admiral Bing for a start). But these celebrities were at least 'famous' for doing something major. There seems to be an almost weekly addition to the plethora of 'reality docudramas' celebrating vacuous, talentless and, frankly, depressing, groups of people.
This rise has, however, been concurrent with a rise of 'academic' television. The popularisation of science, led by Brian Cox, the lauding of David Attenborough, and the plethora of historical documentaries showing on television all attests this. However 'popular' these are, many are excellent, and are doing a fantastic job of closing the gap between academics and 'ordinary' people.
These observations bring me to my final question. What does the rise of these programs at either end of the spectrum tell us? At first glance, it would appear that there is a widening gap between two groups of television watchers. While that might be true to an extent, it is plausible that many of the audiences for the 'reality docudramas' watch them as they are intended, with tongue firmly in cheek. It is difficult, however, not to link the events of the last week with the rise of (z list) celebrity culture. Although the News of the World did some disgraceful (and illegal) things, the only reason they did was to fuel a public appetite for titbits of celebrity gossip and a 'need' to dish the dirt on anyone they fancied.
N.b. Dont worry, I go back to talking about history next time.