Tuesday, August 24, 2010

British Channel 4 plans controversial reality show, "Beauty and the Beast," that pairs attractive people with those with serious disfigurements

From Sue Carroll in The Mirror in the UK:

Whenever you think Channel 4 has scraped the bottom of the barrel, it manages to find another barrel beneath it.

Having thoroughly exhausted the rich seam of weirdos who’ve earned five minutes of fame on Big Brother, the broadcaster will finally kick the show into well -deserved obscurity this week.

But if you think you’ve been spared the ordeal of numpties indulging in gratuitous sex and parading their inadequacies in front of the nation, think again.

Channel 4 creatives have discovered new depths to plumb. In a show they have already announced as “key to our public service offering next year” they plan to bring us Beauty and the Beast.

Not quite the Disney love story of the same name but a series in which a very attractive person will share a house with someone who suffers from a severe physical disfigurement.

The house, helpfully, will be covered in mirrors as a constant reminder of how different they look. Nice.

Meanwhile Channel 4, ever eager to remind us it’s at the cutting edge of experimental television insists: “It’s our remit to tackle difficult issues and open these up to a mainstream audience and debate.”

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If TV companies, controlled by educated, well-paid executives, are at liberty to debase the physically afflicted, how can we expect children in the playground to learn the rights and wrongs of mocking those born less than perfect.

One can only assume the participants have agreed to collude because of financial inducement, in exactly the same way a century ago conjoined twins were exploited as circus attractions. Eventually common sense and public disgust brought an end to the gawping and sniggering over disabled people in the public arena. But broadcasters appear to write their own rules, regardless of any standards of decency or dignity. And more alarmingly, the independent regulator Ofcom, allows them to get away with it.

Not a whisper, so far I might add, from this same toothless body, on the subject of singers’ voices being doctored on the X Factor by the magic of a digital trick called Auto-Tune. If Britain’s most popular talent show is nothing more than a lip-synching contest, surely 11million viewers deserve to be told? Given that TV companies take their viewers for mindless morons I honestly dread to think what further ideas are looming in the guise of “entertainment”.

I don’t want to come across all Mary Whitehouse and much as I hate the idea of censorship it’s really not beyond TV execs to self-regulate.

Channel 4 plans to start shooting this vile and ugly little show soon with the intention of screening it next year. If Ofcom can raise its head from examining some footling TV ad which has irritated fewer than a dozen viewers perhaps it could bring pressure to bear on the broadcasters.

Failing that isn’t it time to put people power into practice?

Write to them to make your feelings known. Ofcom. Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA – or call them on 0300 123 3333.