Richard Ord: No strings attached? Pull the other one!
There was a school of thought that TV reached its lowest point when viewers tuned in to watch other people watching telly.
On paper it sounded like car crash TV. In reality it, Gogglebox, proved a huge hit.
In fact, car crash TV is now no longer a criticism, it’s an essential staple of the telly schedule.
No episode of Police Interceptors would be complete without a car crash. Same can be said of other popular TV shows like The World’s Scariest Police Chases and, of course, Channel Five’s, erm, Car Crash TV.
And car crashes are popular in the news at the minute, of course, just ask Ant McPartlin. (A terrible story I know, but at least it enabled The Sun newspaper to produce a corker of a headline: ‘Ant and Wrecked!’ Genius!)
Gogglebox on paper, should have been a disaster, but it was a critical and, at times, an intellectual success.
Which brings me onto our Isaac’s choice of viewing habits.
At 14 years old, he has naturally elevated himself above TV and instead consumes his viewing via the world wide web on his mobile phone.
I thought his obsession with playing video games on his mobile was bad enough, now he spends his time watching videos of other people playing video games.
In an effort to play fair by him, I reserved judgement.
With Gogglebox, watching other people watching TV sounded like a terrible idea, but worked well in reality.
Maybe, giving him the benefit of the doubt, watching other people playing video games could be just as illuminating.
Now when our Isaac visits (I’m not in a mental ward, just experiencing what could be termed ‘local difficulties’ - think Russia and, say, Chechnya but played out in a semi-detached house) we have to sit through an hour of some geek in a baseball cap shooting up challengers in a video game called Fortnite.
It’s aptly named because while it may only be on for an hour, it literally feels like two weeks of tedium.
When I was a lad, Captain Scarlet was the programme of choice.
An indestructible sci-fi law enforcer tackling the dark forces of The Mysterons.
So drawn into the storylines, my imagination glossed over the fact that these were puppets. As visible as the strings were, my brain simply chose to ignore them.
And so it is that my son fails to see the strings operating the YouTube bloggers churning out these video game ‘tutorials’.
They are, of course, metaphorical strings, but they are pulling them nonetheless.
It is surely no coincidence that after every episode of this videogame geek’s show, our Isaac suddenly feels the need to borrow some money to upgrade his own videogame character or buy some new equipment!
He needs to learn that life lesson, as fun as it looks, there’s always strings attached...