Written by

Andrew Millar


August 4, 2008

I am really beginning to worry about myself. I think I’m getting too in touch with my feminine side. Getting stressed because I have broken a fingernail is one thing, but watching and beginning to enjoy the America series of ‘So you think you can dance’ is just ringing blokey alarm bells in my head.

The fingernail thing I can explain away with the fact that I’m studying Flamenco guitar and I need them to be long on my right hand. But ‘So you think you can dance.’?… I must admit it took me by surprise.

My wife and daughter were watching an audition episode when I came home. And to me it looked like the same old formula… panel of judges…. one crusty, grumpy bastard on the left,… softy female in the middle, quirky git judge on the right…. Enter idiot hopeful… embarrassing stage performance, followed by scathing adjudication…, cut to tears in the foyer. Repeat for an hour….

But I must admit this seemed different. Crusty, grumpy judge was offering honest and constructive criticism to dancers that evidently had some training/passion/talent. Could it be that the bully/rejection formula that most of these shows follow had, at last, been broken? Could we learn something from this hour of American stuff?

Then the illusion was shattered with the comment… “’We’re looking for America’s Favourite Dancer…” Favourite. Not most talented. Not most skilled. Not most versatile.’.

However constructive, once again, we are dealt a popularity contest.

What worries me is this ‘popular vote’ idea is beginning to invade life beyond the box. Politicians and Councils have always made decisions based on the votes, so why should I be surprised?

It seems that popular culture is rapidly becoming ‘populist culture’. And sadly quality no longer has a place. It’s when this attitude creeps into journalism that it concerns me. I prefer that my news comes unbiased and honest, but it seems that editors and owners are beginning to judge the worthiness of an article on the email the article attracts. Even to the point of basing a journalist’s pay on the number of hits their article attracts.

In the ‘hard copy’ world of real newspapers, editors have always had an eye on what ‘sells’. In the cyber world, it’s both eyes and the full attention of their minds, on what ‘attracts’.

Take the recent incident with the Qantas Jumbo. A number of internet websites had terrorism picked as the likely cause, moments after the plane had landed. Many leapt on a report by Australian Aviation Authorities that cited a problem with corrosion in seat assemblies as a likely cause, even though the government agency involved refuted the claim. Finally, cool heads prevailed and stories began to report the probable cause. So journalists turn to the one great story generator left in these circumstances: public fear. ‘“Would you fly with Qantas after this scare?”’.

Sadly, bullying, conspiracy theories, fear and popular opinion are taking over from truth, content and style.

If you agree, vote ‘Yes’ now….