Too often we accept pretend progress in the absence of real progress. It’s easier; just so much less taxing.
So, Duane ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’ Chapman goes wango and says some horrible things. And, predictably, the press goes crazy, and interest groups bay for his blood, and his show comes off the air. And we all feel good about ourselves because we’ve dealt another blow against racism by stretching a Band-Aid over the Grand Canyon of racial disparity that exists in the US. Rosa Parks would be so proud of us, she’d bake us a cake.
Forget the fact that Dog is an ex-addict, ex-biker, ex-con, and we had no problem wallowing in the show created around his lowest-common-denominator-life before his ill-fated phone call. We’ll put up with ex-addict, ex-biker, ex-cons, just as long as they’re not audibly racist too, I suppose. That’s where we draw the line.
Then there’s the BBC.
Faced with a budget crunch, the mind trust at the Beeb threw a tantrum. They chucked all their toys out of the pram, and fired half of their non-fiction creatives.
Forget the Beeb’s public service mandate. Forget that these are some of the people who made the service what it is today. Forget the fact that the responsible thing to do would have been to sell buildings, shutter services (exactly – specifically – how many channels does the BBC charter demand?), and hawk the office furniture before several thousand pink slips were handed out.
Screw that. Firing people always looks better. It shows you can ‘take charge.’ You’re not afraid to ‘make the tough choices.’ Too bad you just laid off a hoard of people who were critical to the future of your service, not to mention the generations of British filmmakers to come.
And, to be honest, it all just makes me tired. I’m not even angry anymore when I see the Madison Avenue PR firm version of what passes for leadership in our culture. God forbid we actually tackle issues and address real problems – like racism, or the role of public service in the digital age.
Why do any of that when you can just fire people instead? It’s just so much easier.