Johann Hari has a particularly silly piece in the Independent today in which he argues that Jeremy Kyle and his television show are a force for tolerance and morality.
Love and Garbage has kindly made a lot of good points in reply, saving me the trouble. But there are two I should like to add.
Who are the villains of these shows, the people the audience find abhorrent? Men who treat women badly. Homophobes. Misogynists. Neglectful parents.But bullying people into the values that Hari and I agree with is no more admirable than any other kind of bullying. Hari's argument is his usual one that any criticism against popular culture is a sign of prejudice against the white working class. But surely believing that Kyle's technique is the way to win such people over itself betrays a pretty low view of that class?
And he touches on something sacred to this blog when he writes:
Watch the 1945 film Brief Encounter now and it seems like the record of two deeply mentally-ill people. Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson meet on a train, fall in love and realise they are perfect for each other – but they are so deeply repressed they can't even bring themselves to touch, and return to miserable, wasted lives, wondering what might have been.So a decision to keep to one's marriage vows is now a sign of mental illness? Clearly the fall of Western civilisation is nearer than I thought.