Review: Trash vs. Class

Trash vs. Class returns with a battle between Freud and a horde of orange skinned slutty Mums.

Atomic Brooker Class Curtis Daughter Freud Hotter Trash TV

What better way to put last week’s fifth week blues behind you than with your twice monthly prescription of Trash vs. Class? Being an arts student with few aspirations in areas of life that actually make money, I’ve adopted the belief that the arts have a redemptive power in order to justify this. ‘You can’t be talking about television there though, old boy?’ is what the hypothetical monocle clad reader I imagine reads my work from time to time has just said. Well I am indeed talking about television and even though you’re just a vivid hallucination sitting in the corner of my room I feel I should respond to your rude interjection.

Television by the virtue of being the most ordinary and constant source of media in our lives perhaps has a power like no other. I’m no snob though, as I think trash as well as class can change us. Fantastic television can produce an emotion in me like no other but sometimes we need something a little less enlightening. At its finest Trash TV can cheer us up more than anything, particularly after a day of mind numbing drudgery. It can take us back to simpler times, and makes me remember Saturday nights watching ITV with my grandparents. Without further ado, here we go.

Trash: Hotter than My Daughter, BBC Three.

I promise that next week the Trash won’t be from BBC Three. In fact, having said that, that’s a promise that will be very difficult to keep. BBC Three are the masters of trash TV, due to their dedication to producing voyeuristic shit with a flimsy social message or ‘mission’ attached. The title sums it all up. ‘Hotter Than My Daughter’. What kind of cunt would say that? In what kind of situation would that comment even arise? The only one I can think of is if the government brings in a eugenics programme in which only the most attractive member of each family gets to survive.

Hotter Than My Daughter is essentially Snog, Marry, Avoid with an intergenerational twist. A slutty mum and dowdy daughter both whinge about how each other’s clothes reflect the varying degrees of looseness of their respective vaginas. When the whinging has finished, an ex-Atomic Kitten gets the public to decide who should change. The porny looking Mum almost always goes through this process and then explains how her world view has been transformed. This almost certainly means that she realises that dressing more sophisticatedly will get her a better class of anal sex than she previously enjoyed.

Snog Marry is the crème de la crème of trash TV. We get to see walking adverts for Chlamydia being ridiculed by a robot cross breed between Anne Robinson and HAL 9000. Hotter than My Daughter doesn’t quite work though. I imagine it was conceived by some overpaid London fuck-face writing ‘Cougars’ and ‘Makeover’ on a whiteboard. On every count it falls short of Snog Marry. I never thought I’d say this but Jenny Frost (another former Kitten member) seems like Orson Welles compared to Liz McClarnon. I’m sure she’s a nice lady but she has all the presentational skill of a pubic hair. I’m not even talking about one of those interesting pubic hairs that hold your attention due to a slightly different shading or length. I’m talking about a run of the mill boring pubic hair. This is all the more reason to watch it though. Associate Editor Phoebe Luckhurst is a fan and I’ve found it makes excellent background noise during essays. Don’t do this for too long though; I nearly described Descartes as a feisty party girl last time I did this.

Class: The Century of the Self, formerly BBC Two.

Fans of Charlie Brooker will have seen Adam Curtis’s fantastic mini-doc on last week’s Newswipe. Some of you, however, may not be aware of his earlier work. Curtis’s documentaries are more like visual essays, using archive footage to subvert what is being said or heard. There’s very few talking heads and Curtis’s hypnotic voice guides us through the whole process. Above all Curtis unashamedly has an argument and subjective perspective and, even if this tends towards the conspiratorial, it makes a welcome change from a million patronising documentaries with their vapid voiceovers constantly trying to be impartial.

There’s no better place to start than The Century of the Self. Curtis argues that Freud’s theories, particularly due to his cousin Bernays, defined the rise of consumerism and the notion of public relations while at the same time providing damaging models for conformity and happiness. For example, we learn how Bernays, after learning the cigarette was a phallic symbol of empowerment, overcame the taboo against women smoking by associating them with the suffragette movement and calling them ‘torches of freedom’. The Century of the Self makes the perfect companion piece to Mad Men, giving the factual perspective on the controlling techniques of advertising and the dissatisfaction of mid-century America. Each episode also has a fantastic title, my particular favourite being that of Episode Three: ‘There’s a Policeman in All Our Heads: He Must be Destroyed.’

The whole series is on YouTube and when you’ve devoured it move on to The Power of Nightmares and The Trap. You’ll soon become a Curtis junkie as well, I promise.