The revelation that the popular TV show Master Chef would detract the majority of viewers away from the political debate held in the same time slot got me gobsmacked. There is a lot there, isn’t it? More than enough material here for sociologists to keep busy for decades.
How on earth can this be and how could a society get to a level whereby the importance of a country’s future is deemed to be less important than a ‘show’ that relies basically on instincts not far removed from the cheering, while knitting, ‘les peuples’ sitting around the guillotine watching cleft off heads rolling with still lolling tongues into the bucket during the French revolution ruckus.
Of course, earlier on the Romans had a taste for blood sport as well, with the Christians being eaten by lions in the Roman Coliseums or gladiators fighting to the death as per the Quo Vadis. The analogy with those events with the present lust for Master Chef is also based on the same instincts of seeing victims humiliated and slaughtered for the pleasure of the audience.
Master Chef has nothing to do with cooking or helping us to better dietary habits and everything to do with our love for the nail biting habit of watching the twitching faces of possible losers and perhaps but certainly, to a much lesser extent, the winners. Ah, our vicarious pleasure at watching the aspiring white coated little master chefs waiting for their fait to be decided by the big Master Chefs who are in total control over their quivering subjects. It is so good and so pleasurable that to make it last into endless weekly shows was the next logical masterstroke, the inventors and owners of the program could hardly believe their luck or their fortune.
The ‘arena’ of the kitchen is very well thought out by, no doubt, specialists in human behaviour, and how to get the best results in considering the all important physical environment. The stark, prison like brick walls, the distance between the subjects and the ‘executioners’, the Master Chef Judges. The gleaming hard reality of stainless steel benches and echoing audio. Then there is the galley above on which the Masters can prance around looking down on the subjects and their nervous attempts at cooking procedures with just the right kind of smirk for the well trained camera men to catch and blow up into the viewers TV room. Of course, during the procedures of cooking, with every little nuance of the subjects nerves and tensions, are also expertly caught and exploited to the max by batteries of the ever vigilant camera…
There must be a flurry of Master Chef addicted viewers queuing at supermarkets on evenings prior to the show, stacking up on instant TV meals and other ready cooked delicacies such as instant mashed potatoes, frozen lasagne and crumbed chicken nuggets or calamari rings. The kids will be allowed to stay up and handy packets of Frooty Loops or crunchie bars with instant pop corn, so handily cooked in the micro wave. The irony of it all passing the viewers by while watching the latest culinary efforts.
Then, what we all wait for; the expulsions. Oh, Marquis de Sade, wake up, even you could not have conjured up this one. The quivering tensions as they line up, so full of hope and expectations. Of course the obligatory hugging takes place with brilliantly shown flash backs of earlier culinary attempts with the spatula and tongs, the sprinkling of just the right amount of all spice or turmeric with our real ever watchful camera poised to enlarge the twitch or quiver of the participant. It’s all manna from heaven for the TV channel moguls though, and much dollars by the millions. With the latest admittance that the Federal Election TV stoush will be taking second fiddle, the Master Chefs must be rubbing their hands. Are they now real leaders of our country?
Well, my grand kids watch the show. They love it. I don’t. I find the show as boring as watching the petrol bowsers ticking over. As someone said before, it’s not as if you can smell the food, let alone eat it! Surely the political debate has to be better than watching others cook?