I was struck the awesome intensity of Charlie Brooker and Kandaq Huq's 15 Million Merits on Channel 4 last night.
I have not been able to stop thinking about it. It obviously taps into the feelings we all share when we work jobs to which we assign little or no meaning. Every morning when we wake we wonder why do what we do and what is the point of it all? We ride our bicycles in front of TV screens that offer an escape from the inevitability of the race to oblivion.
What I found particularly interesting was the writers' treatment of the X-Factor/Britain's Got Talent television shows through the use of their parody, “Hot Shots”. Their obvious vitriolic dislike at such shows was evident, but the underlying message of uncovering wonder leads us to wonder what these shows could really be, if they were less plastic and more real. (However, I cringe as I write this “more real”, as reality is not the realm of television but the realm of our everyday lives and try as we might to make television/film real, there is the unfortunate intrusion of the camera angle, editor and director that filters this reality.) My point is that there is more to the parody of Hot Shots than just dislike and condemnation, but rather it asks the question “What could these shows really do? Where do they fall short?”
The stunning and lingering performance of Daniel Kaluuya in the main role brings the above to our attention in his apoplectic talent show audition monologue. The shows “ooze around and crush” the wonder of the Susan Boyles, of the Diversities, of all the countless truly talented and gifted individuals that submit, and some may say exploit, themselves to and on these shows.
Never pointing the finger at the judges or the audience in isolation, Brooker and Huq remind us that we as a society need to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask the questions, “Where is the wonder? Where is the beauty, truth and purity?”
For, although, all the bankers and fat cats have stolen all the money and material wealth – we, as the working class, can still have purity of purpose, of love, of friendship without the corruption of desire. But we will not let ourselves not be exploited. It is almost as if we enjoy Britain's Got Talent and the exploitation of untapped talent, because we know everyday we are being exploited. We are being used day in day out, as worker bees for fat queens and kings – we would readily submit ourselves to exploitation of the kind of X factor because that I s what we truly want – take me, my mind, my body, my music, my ambition, my life and give me money and stuff – like Huq and Brooker say – give us “confetti” and we will give you everything.