I have to confess, with sincere regret, (barring an occasional glimpse of Alan Sugar) that I’ve squandered my entire allocation of trash-TV viewing on Gogglebox.
I don’t watch Strictly, Bake-off, Voice thing, Celebrity or X factory. You name it, I don’t watch it.
In fact I have watched Gogglebox a mere handful of times, but I like the bleakness, the inscrutability and the unconscious humour, the likes of which we’ve not seen since Mike Leigh’s early masterpieces, which he made before he got caught up in all that anti-Israel silliness.
I suppose, in an ideal world, its association with the Royle Family - the narrators are a clue - should have given the participants a strong hint that they were being ruthlessly, mercilessly lampooned - if with affection. But I assume the prospect of fifteen minutes (and in some cases considerably more) of fame would override any possible concerns. But are we laughing at them, or with them?
Some of the close-ups of some of the faces can’t have been edited in for any other purpose than to engender dumbfounded disbelief from us, the viewers, at the sheer enormity of the human gormlessness we’re viewing. Not to mention our own voyeuristic gormlessness for viewing it.
My favourites are the ones who hardly ever say anything. Their bewilderment at what they’re watching - and implicitly at life in general - is a sight to behold.
And then, suddenly, one of them comes out with something profound. But mostly it just goes to show that truth is stranger than fiction, which I think is what Mike Leigh was striving for, in the early days.
Anyway, this is a preamble to something entirely different. In the line of duty I watched the Channel Four documentary about women who support ISIS. The similarity between the people featured in this programme and Gogglebox was palpabe. This was the sinister version.
One couldn’t help but notice the puns on the theme of ‘veiled / unveiled’ and ‘undercover’. The inanity of much of it was the most striking thing about this programme. And the banality.
I’m surprised that Harry Mount in the Telegraph took it so seriously. The programme, I mean, not the message.
Let’s start with the amateurishness of the production. We know it’s dangerous for an undercover reporter to show his or her face, specially when it’s anything to do with the ROP. But the TV team will normally deal with anonymity by showing the speaker in silhouette, or filming from an obscure angle. Was it absolutely necessary for ‘Aisha” to dress herself up in that ridiculous garb even when she was not “undercover”? (!)
The solemn face of the unveiled presenter watching that frantic texting added to the Gogglebox effect. But let’s just ask ourselves - if someone was seriously going under cover in a dangerous situation - would they have a camera in their handbag? A handbag!
Especially when the garb they were wearing offered boundless opportunities for concealing goodness knows what beneath its vast blackness.
I’d guess about 90% of this programme consisted of Aisha’s tube journeys. There was one amusing snippet when she slipped a bottle of water under the elephant’s trunk part of the apparel and took a swig. Another was a man dashing for the train just as the doors closed.
If there’s one thing it did illustrate, it was that Londoners are completely unfazed by the presence of head-to-toe black-clad apparitions, something they’ve been forced to become accustomed to. Not a sign of that infamous Islamophobic backlash anywhere to be seen.
The meaty bits were there, amongst all the padding. The antisemitism was as clear as clear could be, as was the mumbo jumbo that we’re supposed to take seriously and respect as a religion. The sisters turned out to be as nasty a bunch as they are cracked up to be, if not nastier. The main thing about all this is the inanity, the stupidity, the ignorance of it all.
The fact that we are afraid of offending the most offensive people on earth is mind-boggling.
I wonder if it will feature on Gogglebox? Now that is one edition I would like to watch.