Content over Quality: What do B-Listers and Burnt Cheese have in Common?

This is not a rant. I want to preface that before I continue with this article, since after all I am a huge fan of completely inconsequential TV. I am an avid consumer of Come Dine With Me, and a recent disciple of the Escape to The Chateux Strawbridge family stan-club.

But while flicking through the TV in my mother’s home, I glanced upon a three part series featuring someone I thought was deceased doing a thing that seem irrelevant to this person, alive or dead.

Watching twenty minutes of Miriam Margolyes: Almost Australian left me with two questions, the first being: “who the fuck cares” and the second: “why would anyone think this would be worth the watch”.

Now the latter question is easier to answer, because we seem to be living in a time where bankable talent (as in celebrities would can draw an audience on their fame alone) can be literally anyone, and producers are almost too willing to throw money at the wall to see what sticks.

A prime example of this must be the programme where Scarlett Moffatt was set to live with a Namibian tribe for a while, which resulted in episodes that were almost too boring to even bother considering the possible problematic elements of the concept. Joel Golby did an unbelievably hilarious breakdown of the show, complete with the remark that footage of how the showrunners managed to get a fully operational semi-detached terraced house to the Namibian desert, would be vastly more entertaining than the show itself.

The explanation for why these celebrities are given any kind of devoted screen time has been previously given, and is self-evident. “The Greg Wallace Problem” as I know it, was originally provided by unkempt middle-aged man: Charlie Brooker.

Skip to about 4:15 for the explanation I am referring to.

Put briefly, if you are a British broadcaster and you happen to have a bunch of bankable celebrities on payroll, who are readily able and willing to star whatever shite you want them to. Then you are sitting on a veritable endless flooding stream of content ready for the masses.

TV is subject to a constant need for content, to fill the gapping holes that are the pre-watershed family viewing slots. This is not a revelation to anyone, but I am struck by how much it is reflected in the online space as well.

Content creators across all platforms are now garnering more viewers than some actual TV broadcasters, and the thirst for content has them doing things a lot more nefarious than casting Gregg Wallace in everything.

Australian Food Scientist, Ann Reardon here; sorting through various bullshit “lifehacks”. Some of these are potentially dangerous to fulfil in real life, but the algorithms that encourage quantity over quality incentivises more to be made.

I will take a slight detour to talk about Ann Reardon’s work in showing how quick, easy to produce and high in demand content can have corporations literally instructing children to do unsafe things.

Put bluntly, this is going to be a defining issue for parents with children who regularly go online unsupervised; trying to keep them entertained without them seeing something potentially dangerous to their thinking.

But as corporate thinking goes, if it makes money; it’ll get made.

Content online is due a huge revolution in how creators are controlled, and I doubt any legislation introduced to combat those who would abuse the algorithm for profit, will actually strike it’s target.

After all, what with the constant war against copywrite abuse, it is difficult to see any major tech company benefitting anyone but those who keep their numbers sky high.

But in a world where content has come to dominate the lives of those stuck at home and living in fear, I do find it slightly amusing that everyone from the tentpole Broadcaster, to the influencer TikToker, are doing the exact same thing.

Producing as much shite as they can.

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