Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Down On The Street

There are only three things in the world that I hate, and one of them is the BBC programme The Street That Cut Everything.

The first problem was that it was presented by Nick Robinson, a man who seems incapable of reporting the news without incessant attempts at humour which make absolutely no sense. 'The coalition is beginning to present itself as two different dishes, which taste better together, than on their own.' WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!

But last night we saw him go to a street in Preston, where he told the residents that for the next 6 weeks, the council would not exist to them. They were given back 6 weeks of their council tax, with which they'd have to provide the withdrawn services themselves. The idea was to make them see how difficult life was without the council, but it was all ridiculously skewed to make it completely impossible.

Nick Robinson
Jimmy McGovern's latest character

The programme weirdly made it look as if Nick Robinson was personally responsible for the revocation of council services, to the point where if I ever see him again my immediate response will be to panic and lock up my bins before he gets his Tory hands on them. Because in this programme, Nick Robinson takes away the bins of the residents, because they're council owned, but not before he's emptied the contents of the bins into the street. So the residents have to collect the loose rubbish and keep it in their garages, exactly like councils don't.

Nick Robinson realises he's accidentally thrown away his glasses

He also arranges for some fly-tipping, where sofas and fridges are dumped on the street, and the residents have to deal with it. I thought this experiment was about how people would cope without their council, in which case all you need to do is withdraw the council's services. Don't create more problems by orchestrating your own unrealistic situations, BBC. By doing that, they completely undermined the whole point, whatever that was.

The opening titles of Preston's version of Friends

For some reason, another thing that is withdrawn is the carer of the dad of one of the residents, even though the dad lives on a different street. This experiment is meant to just be affecting one street, yet for some reason the BBC have decided to take away care for a man with no legs who lives somewhere completely different. They also take dogs down the street and make them leave dogshit for the residents to clean up. Because obviously if we didn't have councils, dogs would be encouraged to shit everywhere. Just like how people would be encouraged to graffiti everything, which also happens. And Nick Robinson arranges for some 'youths' to be 'antisocial' in a 'car'. I'm hoping they were the children of Nick Robinson and, I don't know, Andrew Marr. Because they can't phone the council, one of the residents deals with the situation himself. He seems to forget that its all engineered for a TV programme, and threatens to get a crowbar. Which is presumably just what the council would have done.

Well we were all thinking it

For further reasons that are never adequately explained, the residents have to take on council jobs, such as cleaning public toilets. But again, these aren't on the street. The BBC set what are essentially Big Brother style tasks all the way through, in a futile attempt to make it less fucking boring. And in the same reality TV vein, they create human conflict through these tasks and through editing, because TV patronisingly thinks that we need this ridiculous narrative in everything we watch. At one point a woman says she needs money to replace the housing benefit that the council would normally provide, because independently she can't afford to pay for housing, due to having a low income and being a single parent. A cunt then says that he's also a single parent but he manages it just fine. Well done, you have more money than she does, presumably you earn more.

Anyway, I liked what this programme was trying to do. It's main message was that cuts to local councils are a bad thing, and I agree with that. At the start of the experiment a woman says she doesn't think the council's services are worth what she pays in council tax, but by the end she has changed her mind. So that was good. In fact, it's surprising quite how biased this programme was. No wonder some Tories spoke out against it. It was openly anti-cuts. It showed that tax is basically a good thing, and that the Big Society is a bad idea. If it wasn't for the fact that I approve of the message, I'd be annoyed by the lack of impartiality shown by the BBC. But I can't help feeling that by orchestrating these ridiculous situations, by organising fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour and dogshit, and by making it into a Big Brother style reality show, they pushed it so far that the message may have been undermined.

Nick Robinson
The cunt that cut everything

This blog is named after a song by The Stooges; I will leave you with Rage Against The Machine's brilliant cover version, enjoy!

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