make-believe.org

The very fabric of reality television

I am waiting for the moment when the archetypal tough, pommy chef in one of those British restaurant TV shows turns upon an underling and instigates the following exchange:

"Someone out there," (he points to the kitchen doors) " is paying forty-five quid for this dish!" (He gestures to a beladen plate.) "Dyou fink this dish is worf forty-five quid?"

"Er, yes chef!" Underling responds nervously.

"Well let me put it tyou this way: would you pay forty-five quid for that?" (By which he is implying that the meal has been prepared to an inadequate level.)

At this juncture I imagine the camera zooming in on the underling's face—right up to his eyeballs as it occurs to him that no, he wouldn't, in fact he can't imagine a parallel universe or a sufficient sum of riches in this one that he himself would pay forty-five quid for this dish, or any dish; there is no meal served in any restaurant, it dawns on him, worth forty-five quid... and weakly, distantly we hear him mutter: "No."

"No what?!"

"No chef." But it is too late, the cat has leapt from the bag, the horse has bolted, for the moment of this realisation has been captured and magnetised to whatever filmic media, and soon will be distributed, beamed, around the globe.

And in that momentary narrowing, then widening, then watering, then casting of his eyes I imagine that the vast edifice of reality television is itself assaulted—its very foundations (the supernatural and superhuman consequences of the banal) so violently challenged, and so eloquently dismissed, that the impact is immediate, everywhere, leaving only one possibility:

That we will watch the rest of the show and probably we will watch the identikit show that follows, outwardly unperturbed, but inwardly marvelling at the audacity, and the majesty, of our little fictions.

Joseph | 17 Nov 2004

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