Saturday, 3 January 2009

Two Treatises of Government

Yesterday I spent some time watching children's television. The first programme I watched now most likely has the status of a creaking old classic, but children still love it all the same - Teletubbies. When it first appeared on our screens in 1997, I was quite a fan. This was most likely a combination of the fact I was in full student-mode and that I am fairly backward anyway. However, I now realise that my interest in it was on a subconscious level. At the time I was heavily embroiled in sociology and political philosophy, and I now realise the dastardly Orwellian overtones of the tubbies' plight in Teletubby Land. Under the gaze of the baby-faced sun, the teletubbies' daily lives are dictated by the voice which eminates from periscopic speakers, hidden in the flowerbeds. Even the rabbits are in on this subjugation, I reckon.

As the voice instructs the four drones to assemble atop the hill and the four aerials, one on each tubbies' head, receives the daily propaganda film to be shown on one of the stomach-mounted monitors, I came to reflect that even a benign dictatorship is a dictatorship. The teletubbies - rife with what Marxists refer to as False Consciousness - seem happy enough with their lot, and Teletubby Land is a utopian green pasture. However, I wonder what would befall any one of them should they ever try to leave. I suspect the aerials would soon switch from instruments of passive control to instruments of torture at the flick of a switch.

So, what hope is there for the teletubbies, still trapped after 12 years in this sunny Gulag? Well, I think Tinky Winky has completely left the building. His level of compliance by this point has reached Manchurian Candidate levels. Dipsy, I suspect, could go either way. As could La La, but this is as much to do with the fact that I suspect she's bisexual as anything more cerebral. Po, however, has potential. She has Fifth Columnist written all over her. If the paradigms of this particular Historical Bloc can be broken, maybe the tubbies could still be integrated into something approximating to normal society.

On the other side of the Iron Curtain, on Five to be precise, lives Peppa Pig. Peppa Pig and her family represent all that is good about liberal society. However, whilst I commend the programme for having the balls to display the minutiae of everyday life without feeling the need to tack on an outlandish narrative drive, it does show the fundamental weakness of the Western way of life. Without a Stalinist overseer, the onus on the individual to give their own life meaning becomes the struggle. Peppa Pig's parents are no help, especially Daddy Pig, who has been lucky to have such helpful, compliant and pleasant offspring as Peppa and George Pig because I sincerely doubt that he has it in him to be authoritative enough to control any uprisings. So, the daily cycle of an enormously uneventful and perfunctory visit to the dentists, or losing something and then quickly finding it again, or cooking dinner continue. At the moment the Pig family bear up with good grace and happiness. But how long before one of them cracks?

The question of how long I last before I crack should never need have arisen, but Peppa Pig's outrageous, pulsating, Oompah-Oompah soundtrack is sufficient to brainwash even the strongest souls. Naturally, then, I fell prey within a matter of minutes.

1 comment:

Pootle said...

we need more of this sort of highbrow analysis

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