The programme I’m enjoying most at the moment is The Apprentice (BBC2, Wednesday), in which teams of men and women, all of whom have supposedly resigned from their high-powered jobs for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, take part in various business-related competitions and are whittled down week by week until there is only one survivor. His prize is a highly paid job with Sir Alan Sugar. (In the American version it was Donald Trump.)
I say ‘His’ because on current evidence it’s almost certainly going to be a bloke who wins. If you’d seen the boys and girls in action during the flower-selling episode, you’d know exactly what I mean. Even my wife, who thinks of herself as a bit of a feminist, was taken aback by the girl team’s astounding crapness.
Their task was to buy 500 quid’s worth of flowers from New Covent Garden market and sell them for the maximum profit by that evening. While the victorious boy team made a few quick decisions and got on with it, the girl one spent ages just bickering, vacillating and trying to make up their minds what each other’s roles were. They couldn’t even decide on a team name. While the blokes took all of ten minutes to choose ‘Impact’, before heading off for a drink, the girls floundered for hours over whether ‘Daisypetalbarbie’ (I forget the exact names) was maybe too girlie and ‘Ocean’ too broad and wet. Twenty weeks later, they settled on the monumentally rubbish ‘First Forte’.
‘Heh heh heh,’ I sniggered as I dug my wife in the ribs. ‘That’s your sex, that is.’ But I didn’t really take it as proof that all girls are terminally useless. Au contraire, I think chicks are mostly way better than us — hardier, more intelligent, more sensitive, and great for a shag. What I do think the experiment illustrated quite damningly, though, is just how comprehensively modern woman has been shafted by the idiotic PC notion — cf. the recent Harvard controversy — that the only difference between men and women are the roles ascribed to them by a patriarchal society.
Whenever the women remembered to be themselves, they did brilliantly — flirting, charming, scheming, intuiting, as girls will. Where it all fell apart was when they started behaving as PC culture has told them they must behave if they hope to get on in a man’s world: being assertive, speaking their mind about how patronised they feel when their colleagues are being assertive, laboriously defining their objectives, and so on. Chaps, on the whole, don’t feel the need to articulate any of this stuff. They know business is competitive, that some will be leaders, others followers, that it’s a good idea to volunteer your services when you have a talent particularly germane to the task in hand. But yakking about it just wastes time.
All week Channel 4 has been holding a ‘Banned Season’, featuring stuff that was once considered too strong meat for television, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the word ‘cunt’. It was first used as long ago as the 1970s, when David Frost’s show was invaded by a gang of Yippies, one of whom — later-to-be-millionaire-publisher Felix Dennis — slipped in a naughty c-word. It didn’t resurface till 2002, when the model Caprice used it on breakfast TV while describing her role in The Vagina Monologues. She mentioned it so matter-of-factly that only two viewers complained.
In my schooldays, when there wasn’t nearly so much filth on TV, I imagine that the TV room in my school house would have been absolutely rammed for a programme like X-Rated: The TV They Tried to Ban (Channel 4, Sunday). Not now, though, it wouldn’t. The whole point about effing and blinding and heaving buttocks on TV is that they’re only exciting if you think they’re not supposed to be there. Now that they are, all the time, with Gordon Ramsay using the f-word so much it might as well be ‘blimming’ and Footballers’ Wives venturing ever deeper into soft-core porn, it all seems a bit dull and wholesome. Which, indeed, was the big problem with the whole Banned season: now that it’s not banned why should we watch?
Soon, with luck, I won’t need to bother with TV any more because I’ve just signed up to that video club Screen Select where you can get pretty much any film you’ve ever heard of — apart, I notice, from my favourite obscure vampire movie Let’s Scare Jessica to Death — sent to you through the post on DVD and you can keep them as long as you like.
The first one I got was The Belstone Fox because I wanted to make my children cry, and I thought it might make them more pro-hunting. Unfortunately, it failed on all counts. Apart from being unutterably bored — thanks to Japanese cartoon drivel like Yu-Gi-Oh!, they’ve been ruined for anything that requires an attention span — they didn’t give a toss when all the hounds get hit by the train, nor when the huntsman dies at the end. And despite a running commentary provided throughout by their father on why, even though foxes are very handsome, they’re also vermin, and why actually hunting’s really good for them because it keeps them fit, etc., my evil ‘Anti’ offspring weren’t having any of it. So it’s the glue factory for them, I’m afraid.