Friday, 14 December 2012

Friday Five: Non-competitive pursuits

I think it's fair to say that I don't like reality TV. I have mentioned this before. One of my least favourite sub-genres is the competition variety. You know the type of thing, where people are pitted against each other to paint a room or build a wall and then someone wins and everyone at home thinks they could have done the same and the real decorators and stonemasons go out of business while general standards plummet.

Although I like the celebrity dancing ones (especially the ice-dancing one), I know I am no expert. This is not true of the people who routinely watch the singing shows and then feel free to critique performances about which they know nothing. It also means that we are left with chanteurs who think that to belt and warble is the epitome of 'singing' and we are left without subtlety, nuance or character. Bob Dylan or Florence Welch wouldn't make it through the first round.

With performance and artistic pursuits, a lot is left to personal preference - A might like sci-fi or farce; B might prefer romance or Jacobean drama; C might swoon at ballet and metaphysical poetry and so on. It doesn't mean any one is 'better' than the other - it just means they shouldn't be judged against each other. In 'pure' sport if you run fastest, jump highest or throw something furthest, you win. You are the best at that particular thing. Don't get me wrong, some things lend themselves to competition and this is a good thing (not keeping the score during football games because 'it's all about participation' is ridiculous!) but when subjectivity creeps in, nothing is so clear.

Acting, comedy and writing awards are often suspect. Yes, they are worth something when awarded by your peers, but often they are voted for by a partisan panel - the more friends you have in the audience; the more likely you are to win. These tributes might provide a feel-good factor, but they are relatively worthless. Entertainment is not a science; nor should it be a competition.

5 Things that should never be a competition:
  1. Cooking - as far as I am concerned you either cook because it is your job and you are paid, or because it is a way of expressing love and friendship to those around you. Eat with me and know you are welcome. Do not judge the temperature of the soup or the slicing of the vegetables. I have prepared this gift for you in my own way.
  2. Surgery - there will come a day when cameras go into operating theatres and viewers vote on who best wields the scalpel. I'm surprised it hasn't happened already. Health is personal, although you wouldn't know it from those shows which 'expose' physical deformities and laugh at fat people. Some things should be conducted behind the curtained cubicle - pull yourself together.
  3. Sex - it's personal and not up for discussion apart from between the relevant parties. According to late-night phone-ins (you hear a lot driving home from rehearsals) many people seem to be concerned about whether or not their sex-life is 'normal'. As long as you and your partner are happy with it, whatever you're doing, or not doing, is fine.
  4. Raising children - I hate the use of nouns as verbs, so have resisted the urge to call it parenting. I'm sure it's pretty difficult to raise a child to be a reasonable and responsible human being. Just do your job and stop comparing yourself and your child to others. In some respects they're all the same; in others they're all different - don't bother worrying or boasting, and if you must do either, do it to yourself as no one else cares. Really.
  5. Friendship/love - when I was little I used to refer to 'best friends'. Now I know that best is a superlative meaning 'of the most excellent or outstanding or desirable kind' there can only be one, by definition. I would now say I have many good or close friends - all of them special to me in individual ways and I love and admire them for their specific qualities. I would never try to rank one above the other. That's not how this love thing works.

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