Friday, 22 February 2013

Lighten up



We all vary in how seriously we take life’s absurdities don’t we? If I read a report of David Cameron’s latest speech, there is a spectrum of basic attitudes I'll adopt, depending on the issues involved, my mood and general take on such things.

The BBC would report Cameron’s speech at face value of course, attributing the content to various political moves and strategies, assessing the range of responses those moves might invoke and the people most likely to make those responses.

In other words, the BBC would report Cameron's speech almost as if they were reporting on a game of football or snooker - tactics, strategies and personalities.

A more sceptical person might see Cameron’s speech in a radically different light, especially a genial sceptic inclined to see the comic side of political pretensions. 

Once Cameron is seen for what he is - a largely ineffectual figurehead, then the meaning and value of his speech may well be treated more lightly, even frivolously by our imaginary genial sceptic. A patch of froth on the political sea, an ephemeral thing with little substance or durability.

There are of course a range of other possible attitudes, but the problem remains. If like the BBC, we take these matters and these events at face value, we are able to deliver what seems like a serious and responsible commentary. At least I suspect it sounds that way to most ears.

However, this serious and responsible commentary is only serious and responsible because it sidesteps the futility of the speech and the emptiness of Cameron's professed aims as Prime Minister. It is a form of deception and possibly self-deception where the manner of a report directs attention from its narrow focus.  The BBC is very good at keeping the focus narrowly genteel.

Futility is an important aspect of power and complexity. Many things our leaders do are most certainly futile, designed for show and for temporary effect rather than anything more permanent. Yet a serious take on these matters has always been identified with a mainstream point of view. Anything lighter is taken as...
...well lighter.

Yet the lighter angle may touch on important matters with considerably more accuracy than a narrowly serious analysis. The lighter angle may be more literary, allusive and metaphorical, but being less restrained it may be more accurate too...

...and less dull.

2 comments:

Angus Dei said...

I usually watch U-Turn Cam's (and the others)spouting because I need at least one laugh a day AK

A K Haart said...

Angus - I sometimes smile at the guy, but when I remember he's supposed to be the PM, it isn't so easy.