Jamie TV

I don’t have a television, but I do (obviously) have an internet connection. And it gave me some pleasure to come across one of Jamie Oliver‘s programs (in 8 pieces): Jamie Oliver – Eat To Save Your Life will show you many interesting things you don’t see every day, including a quick look at how sugar, salt and fat have been added to the modern diet; how an extra latte and a bowl of crisps each day can add about 40 lbs to a woman’s weight over a year; what fitness looks like internally; where your organs go and what happens to their size if displaced by a fatty liver.

I like the tone of this (despite its moments of over-the-top silliness) – brutally frank but kind and positive – and the constructive social purpose at the heart of it. It covers much of the same ground as Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, but does it more efficiently and intelligently. It certainly shows up the stylistic differences between British and North American tv.

Being as I am in North America, I am so grateful to have given up tv during the era of reality television which has no social or technical virtues and is to me entirely unwatchable; on the other hand, perhaps I should be grateful for reality television, since it was the pointlessness and pervasiveness of this kind of North American programming that made giving up tv possible!

My English friends tell me constantly that the quality of British television has declined drastically over the years I’ve been away, but maybe that’s ok too. (You can always turn it off and pick up a book?!) Gone are the days when fewer channels meant more common ground, and television was more truly a shared cultural experience. Sonny, in my day, when I first moved to England, we had four channels and something to talk about.

However. I am cheered to hear a lot of people here talking about Food Revolution. Which, being for Americans, has been presented in the American reality tv style. Although its irritating soundtrack, staged dilemmas, ponderous pace and trying-too-hard laughs would drive me up the wall, it does indisputably have a positive social purpose, targets the “food” that is fed to children, and is generating some unifying interest: so perhaps he’s even striking a small revolutionary blow for television as well. (But I still don’t want one.)









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