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Do we have 'too much choice' or is it simply a combo of sloth & bad taste?

“There's too much stuff. We live in a stuff-a-lanche. It's time for a cultural diet (Charlie Brooker, of The Guardian)

"The virtue of choice lies not in our having the choice of two or more, but in our ability to be discerning enough in taste so that the bar is lifted high enough for us to demand a choice between ‘good’ and ‘better’ as opposed to ‘good’ and ‘sh*t’. Whilst the dialectical relationship between ‘good’ and ‘better’ can serve to increase each other’s value and produce 'fantastic', the same cannot be said for the latter. ~ ed

The other day I bought a DVD boxset of Carl Sagan's astronomy epic Cosmos: by all accounts, one of the best documentary series ever made. On my way home, I made the mistake of carefully reading the back of the box, where I discovered it has a running time of 780 minutes. Thirteen hours. It's against my religion to only watch part of it – it's all or nothing. But 13 hours? That's almost a marriage. The sheer weight of commitment is daunting. So it sits on the shelf, beside similarly unwrapped and unwatched obelisks. I'm not buying these things for myself any more. I'm hoarding them for future generations……Here's what I want: I want to be told what to read, watch and listen to. I want my hands tied. I want a cultural diet. I want a government employee to turn up on my doorstep once a month, carrying a single book for me to read. I want all my TV channels removed and replaced by a single electro-pipe delivering one programme or movie a day. If I don't watch it, it gets replaced by the following day's selection. I want all my MP3s deleted and replaced with one unskippable radio station playing one song after the other. And every time I think about complaining, I want a minotaur to punch me in the kidneys and remind me how it was before.
In short: I've tried more. It's awful. I want less, and I want it now.

Whilst I do like Charlie’s somewhat off-the-beaten track take on things, and I do certainly chuckle at his almost poetic (or, ‘proletic’) Black Adder-ite sarky humour, I couldn't help but wonder whilst reading the above, 'does The Guardian actually pay this guy for this?!'.

One could read 'opinions' such as this on numerous whiny ranty blogs out there. I often wondered if journalistic standards would impact on general blogalistic ones or the other way round. With Charlie Brooker, amongst others, it seems that the proverbial barbarian is well-past the gate and in the boudoir of the master of the manor. Or perhaps articles such as this are an effort to ‘reach out to the proles' and establish a positive sort of association between the blogging and working masses and The Guardian so that they might possibly peruse more than a Charlie or a Brooker whilst here. But this might very well have the inverse effect of validating existing perspectival standards amongst the great ranting masses. Or perhaps this article, or more aptly, 'post', is supplied in respect of the sanctity of the idea of choice. So now we can have a choice between a rant and a review in locales which previously housed nothing but the latter in pre-blogging days. As the juvenile is now the most significant ‘market’, and their pre or just-past pubescent perspectival proclivities are being given form by the Corporation, standards are being lowered to all time lows in all arenas of global social experience. Hence, the Brookers amongst the Cookes. Now if this is the kind of ‘choice’ that Charlie is railing against, I suppose he would have my vote.

But, I suppose that such a rant on a notable site like The Guardian does have the effect of people paying it more thought, and perhaps, or should I say, hopefully, reading far more between the lines than can possibly be deciphered by a bevy of silk-stockinged MI5/6 code crackers. I suppose the value of a rant is not generally appreciated in itself unless it is pedestaled by prominence. In that, people might be goaded to consider the general context behind that most insightful multicoloured puddle on the floor outside of the local pub on a Friday night than they otherwise might. The value of the rant, and the quality of the newspaper or site itself might then be deemed to be of significance, not because of the quality of the content, but the insightful value of the content of comments afforded it because people aren’t inclined to direct golden showers of incredulity on that which they value as it bodes ill for their own sense of intellectual self-efficacy.

Finally, one has to also consider how this Brookerian approach shares a similar perspectival basis as the BNPs (the UK version of the following) and PAPs (singapore’s version of the preceding) out there. Why else might people rail against choice if it is not an existing penchant for the familiar which validates the continuing usage of the formulae by which we make sense of things? “I do not want variety so that I don’t have to feel guilty or stupid for not appreciating or understanding it.” Both scapegoat choice to exonerate themselves from allegations of ill-discipline, bigotry and stupidity.

To end of this, um, rant, I leave the reader with this thought :

The virtue of choice lies not in our having the choice of two or more, but in our ability to be discerning enough in taste to the point that the bar is lifted high enough for us to demand a choice between ‘good’ and ‘better’ as opposed to ‘good’ and ‘sh*t’. Whilst the dialectical relationship between ‘good’ and ‘better’ can serve to increase each other’s value and produce 'fantastic', the same cannot be said for the latter.

And as for Charlie, a little bit of discipline and focus might help.




  1. We agree as well!! Just say no to stuff:


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