29 OCTOBER 2007
There’s been a lot of coverage here in England about telephone competition scams. This seems to have envolved in the news to fakery in television: from noddies, storming queens, naming cats, catching fish, and now FEMA staff posing as reporters in America.
It’s all rather silly. But perhaps something good can come out of it.
Growing up is a process of unlearning many of the things that you were taught as child: magic, monsters under the bed, Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, buttercups under the chin and liking butter, that a policeman will look after you, that a doctor will take care of you and that the people in adverts have used and really recommend the products they are advertising.
As adults, there are more things to discover, including how television programmes come about: programmes such as Cash in the Attic are set up in advance, celebrities on TV quizzes see the questions in advance and production companies of reality shows really only want to tell entertaining stories and not document the reality they have captured on film.
But, it occurred to me that, if this spotlight on fakery spreads to the government, perhaps there is hope for us in the end.
For ages, politicians have employed all sorts of techniques for persuasion, their words seemingly no longer enough; from the colour of their clothes, whether they wear a jacket or tie, rolled up sleeves, their hand movements or photo shoots of them holding babies, they are all carefully designed to deceive.
Politicians also smear opponents by the simple association of a person’s name with a negative idea. An accusation will be untrue, but being said in the news makes it real. For example “I’m not saying that Bob ever beat his wife but…”. The connection has been made, it will be picked up by the media and the damage is done.
If the government can be scrutinised as much as broadcasters are being now, perhaps it would halt all of their fakery. If not, I fear it will only get worse.