I was not sure where to put this because the content is entertainment but the central point is honesty and how far deception can be taken in order to preserve a conceit. In the end, after Facebook, I put it both here and there.
In the UK, ‘Strictly‘ comprises two shows – the contest night when all the participants dance and the public vote is collected, and the results show at which the dance-off between the bottom two pairs takes place. The first show goes out on Saturday night and the second goes out on the Sunday when we are led to believe it is live.
But it is not live and we all know this. It is recorded on the Saturday with different frocks and a new selection of celebs’ mums shuffled onto the front row. The dancers themselves often give it away, sometimes the judges let slip, and an increasing number of us knows someone who has actually been. I certainly do. They were asked not to tell and I found that a little bit uncomfortable, even though, in the grand scheme of things, it seems harmless. So what if we buy into this illusion and imagine that the entire set, make-up, costumes and audience are freshly put together less than 24 hours after dismantling or sending home the last lot?
Well, I think it matters first because it’s a deceit and an unnecessary one. But I think it really matters when children become a part of the lie through illness or, as is the case just now, traumatic injury. It would have been untenable enough had Claudia Winkelman’s daughter been afflicted by a tummy bug on the Saturday which everyone (including her, presumably), had to pretend was still the case on the Sunday when she might have been perfectly well. But she was injured and the cause has to do with Halloween and candles and so the matter has become a wider and more serious one. It has brought in national news journalists whose job it is to talk about many things other than a dance programme but who are – for now at least – going along with the pretence.
At first they persisted with the line that Claudia had to miss the Sunday show ‘as well’ and latterly they have begun to talk about ‘the weekend shows’, presumably as a way of skating over the fact that being unavailable on the Saturday inevitably means being absent on what is sold to us as the Sunday. Frankly, deception on that scale goes way beyond the tiny conceit that almost certainly drove the original intention. It’s time, I think, for them to come clean; I really don’t think anyone will mind.
This is a Facebook post (mine) I feel compelled to give blog space. I have met people who bite and it has very rarely been a premeditated or vindictive act, it has been about extreme arousal leading to an uncontrolled primitive reaction. Here’s the post:
I don’t do football and I’m not a fan of Suarez but I do know about biting behaviours like his. People are looking for explanations in terms of what provoked it but it’s most likely they’re looking in the wrong place because it isn’t rational.
In the psychology business this is called hyper-arousal and whether positive or negative – like children bursting into tears at the end of a fab party, or cats purring then grabbing your hand – it spills out and a very primitive reaction takes over. The image of Suarez sitting on the pitch afterwards with his hands in his mouth and distress on his face is also primitive – he lost it and he hadn’t intended to, in my view, because it was neither premeditated nor personal.
I thought when I saw him earlier in the week, that he was wearing a wristband and, when he bit it after an energised moment, it occurred to me that it was there for just that purpose. If so, then his difficulty has been recognised and they’re trying to manage it. This time it failed and, while I have no sympathy for those who indulge in deliberate yobbishness, I am concerned for Suarez who seems plagued by a talent yoked to over-arousal that results in this hugely objectionable behaviour.
“Vague but exciting…” is what Tim Berners-Lee’s boss scribbled on his proposal to build the worldwide web before giving him the go-ahead to start work. If today’s research proposal rules had been in place, I’d argue it might never have happened because, in health services at least, the process has become one of regimented, formulaic stultification. One that squeezes the life out of innovative thinking and pins it to endless rigid forms that will only admit x-number-of-characters-including-spaces. By the time a project has been approved and funding granted, the thing that so excited and wired you up to the mains with creative energy is flapping feebly in a box covered in deadlines, imperatives, shoulds, don’ts and musts. Fiscally responsible, yes, but with about as much punch as a collapsed flan.
Furthermore, worthy and tight as a drum as the poor thing now is, it will be a one-off. There are no repeat grants and this, astonishingly, means that research goes out published with the legitimising tag of having been NIHR (for instance) supported, but it will never be replicated to further evaluate its findings and replication is fundamental to the principles of validation in research findings.
Yes, we have to be responsible and not cavalier with money, people, resources, and ethics, and there has certainly been good work done by good people via this process. But coming back to true innovation – some of the biggest submitted no bids because they were working out of their bedrooms: Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google – who would have been courageous enough to fund those start-ups as research projects? I have no problem with thorough, painstaking, detailed research and the measures put in place to ensure nothing is wasted and nobody harmed. I do have a problem with the loss of a box for the ‘vague but exciting’ proposals that have the capacity to change worlds. Happy 25th birthday WWW, I think we are very lucky to have you.