Posted by: Paul | January 21, 2010


Charlie Brooker returns! And not a moment too soon, for the world has gone mad in his absence. Well, no, it hasn’t really, but Newswipe always makes the world look like it’s gone mad.

This week’s show was about one of my favourite subjects, and something Brooker has devoted segments of shows to in the past – media scaremongering. There have been some great ones in the last 6 months – Swine Flu, the Christmas Day (attempted) Bomber, even the bloody weather turned on us.

I can’t help wondering what life would be like without these constant threats to our very existence. All sunshine and roses? A rewarding procession of events and experiences, without pressure or consequence, everyone drifting along humming Shiny Happy People to themselves? Or just very, very dull?

I think comedian Doug Stanhope put it best during the show – “Nothing of significance is going to happen to you in your entire life”. You’re probably not going to get Swine Flu. No-one’s going to blow up the plane you’re on. It might snow on your house but the roof is not very likely to fall in.

But the media can’t have you live in this knowledge. Oh no. They have to up the ante. And I’m aware I’m saying “they” in the traditionally paranoid “The Man” sense here, which is in itself a little scaremongering of my own. “They” – The Media – are out to get you. Didn’t you know that?

What I particularly love during these occasional periods of hysteria, is the way Sky News reacts in hysterical fashion to the hysterical fashion in which everyone else is reacting. They have to go one better. During their minute-by-minute coverage of the early stages of the Swine Flu “Pandemic”, they may aswell have had a DEATH COUNTER ticking slowly upwards in the corner of the screen. And in the recent frozen weather, a giant egg-timer filled with road grit slowly running out onto the floor of the studio to represent the dwindling supplies.

I can’t wait to see what they do for coverage of Murdoch’s funeral. Employ a choir of wailing Greek Widows dressed in black to lament him for the entire course of hour long bulletins?


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