Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Stop Asking Stupid Questions!

Originally published  for another blog on 3/2/2011 but hey, nothing's changed so it's still relevant.

Modern life, with all its news headlines, trailers, adverts, tweets and status updates has become so overwhelmingly demanding that I almost envy our caveman ancestors whose information intake was limited to a few grunts and the odd squeal of their prey meeting its demise. What a simple, blissfully ignorant existence that must have been. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, I’m increasingly of the opinion that we all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place.

Worst of all though has to be the rhetorical question disguised as a TV programme title. It’s not enough to simply tell us what the programme is about, now we need to answer back to a documentary which is supposed to be talking to us.

“Do we really need the moon?” the BBC asked this week. Do we? Well I’m assuming so for important science-type reasons but I don’t want to get drawn into the discussion without watching the programme. “Will My Crash Diet Kill Me?” is another, again from Auntie Beeb. I don’t know and to be frank I don’t really care. Admittedly, this is a more compelling title than the perhaps more accurate “My Crash Diet Might Kill Me” but it’s also bloody annoying.

Even newspapers, the last bastion of up-to-date, analogue information get in on the action. The Daily Mail currently asks us “Are aliens here?” Well, we know the answer to that one. Because I bet if the answer was “yes” you’d be milking that headline so much you wouldn’t have room to print all that “Z-list celeb wears same dress for the second time shocker!” rubbish your readers seem to love more than good, hard news.

It also demands of us, "As the Arab world unravels, should the West be worried?" Well again, you’re the experts, you tell us! By using a rhetorical question, you’re simply hiding the fact that you’re going to give us your opinion, and give us  our opinion, washing your hands of all responsibility because we’re the ones who answered the question. All the while whipping us into a frenzy of worry and hatred about things which won’t don’t really matter. Very clever.

But since when has it been the role of the mainstream media to placate us? To put a comforting arm around our shoulders, kiss us on the forehead and whisper “Now, now, shh, it’s OK. I’ll protect you from the harsh realities of modern existence.”

Answer THAT rhetorical question. Manipulative smart arses.