Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Apprentice Cartoon

I see The Apprentice is now reaching some kind of climax. I interviewed Sir Alan Sugar when this show began - a nice bloke but a rather rough and ready business type who evidently had problems with my corduroy suit - not sharp like Sugar's, but Issey Miyake. After the article appeared, he said somewhere that the remarks about the producers - 'these bloody arty-farty, creative a***holes, right?' - were off the record. They weren't, I never make that mistake. He thought they were because we had agreed he was off the record at one point and had forgotten we had gone back on. He speaks so impetuously when he gets excited, he evidently loses track. The show I now find unwatchable, primarily because of its dated and implausible view of the business exec. All these kids play at being hard-nosed, aggressive types who would trample on their grandmothers to make a sale because that's what the persona Sugar has adopted for the show seems to want. In practice, I find it hard to imagine any real businessman taking these people seriously and I certainly can't imagine trying to have a conversation with any of them. The show is, in short, a cartoon view of business. But that's television for you.


  1. Business is business, bums on seats, television is business, etc.

  2. What you say is true, but it's a bit like complaining that a John Wayne movie is nothing like running a ranch.

    I enjoy The Apprentice as a cartoon. I work in a real business. Most people do. I go home and watch TV to be entertained. A programme that reflected the real business I work in really would be unwatchable. You underestimate the intelligence of the public if you think they think it's a programme about real business.

  3. You're probably right, Brit. But it is a very odd cartoon and it's appeal must be the illusion that something real is happening. It's all about suspension of disbelief I guess.

  4. The treadmill of inanity is what keeps the cogs of society running, Bryan.

  5. It's a reality contest. A reality contest is TV's current favourite child: it means The Krypton Factor plus a bit of soap operatics, plus (sometimes) a popularity contest.

    All a reality contest needs is a conceit to provide the framework. In American Idol it is pop stardom, in Strictly Come Dancing it is ballroom dancing, in Hell's Kitchen it was running a restaurant, in Celebrity Masterchef it is being a top chef, in the original Big Brother it was prison and in The Apprentice it is business.

    None of the conceits bear any resemblence to the reality, but in entertainment terms the contest is its own reward.

    But funnily enough, the winner of The Apprentice is well-qualified for the eventual job, since the programme is a big fake. The two finalists have to work for Sugar for six months before he makes the decision.

  6. Your points may be true, Brit, but my feelings about eth entertainment industry are largely seen within this painting by Mark Gertler, The Merry GO Round.

  7. Whatever floats your boat. I know quite a few people who tut at the telly over the copy of 100 Years of Solitude they're pretending to read.

  8. Noone said the zombie box wasn't a good hypnotist.

  9. And as everyone knows, hypnosis only works on those willing to be hypnotised.

    You're in denial Andrew: go on, you know you want to - watch Britain's Got Talent, marvel at Celebrity Ice Skating, join my campaign to bring back Pets Win Prizes...

  10. Also if I remember right, Brit, you were bemoaning the garbage that litters the box these days. There seems to be an action or non-action crying out to be made in response to this which is not to anaesthatize one's mind with such drivel.

  11. I'm not saying I'm impervious to the hypnotism, Brit, I watched half an episode of The Apprentice whenever twas last on, and it was certainly very watchable. Though like the computer games, one big black hole. Pets Win Prizes sounds good though.

  12. In the Norman Wisdom post? I was specifically thinking about the kind of comedy shows that get commissioned. There's a genuine mystery there - a whole batch of comedy shows are neither popular nor sophisticated.

  13. And the bottomles mystery of Two Pints & of Lager & A Whole Heap of Shite on two hours every night on BBC3.
    Though on the more general point, I see little reason to argue with Thomas Jefferson's lines:

    If a nation expects to be ignorant & free
    It expects what never was & never can be.

  14. Television is fine, we just watch too much. Fast food is fine, we just eat too much. Alcohol is fine, we just drink too much. Sex is fine, we... just think about it too much (and indulge in the other things because we don't get enough).

  15. It may well be that I was missing something, but I thought that the show was about giving a chance to someone. That in the normal run of events would not receive one. A sort of realistic MBA.

  16. Though I just was wondering if life will take to imitating art, and this cartoon view of business will in time come to be mirrored by real business. Though my experience of The Apprentice is one half episode so I'm not quite sure what that all actually means. I'm sure it's a point been made elsewhere and often but I seem to see parralels in Plato's Cave story. Which I can't be bothered trying to pursue at the moment. And as a further aside I read a little Plato yesterday- my Platonic debut, and does anyone else find his world of ideals ludiscrously comical? For example, we've all seen many bicycles but these are a pale reflection of the ideal bicycle.

  17. Andrew; read Flann o'Brian, he explains all about bicycles. And as to the Plato ref', its the reverse. From a view of the sun, dragged down and then made sit watching shadows. The bloody telly tubbies have more enlightening value.

  18. Platonic thinking is very much out of fashion in my corner of the blogosphere. And rightly so, since it is responsible for all sorts of catastrophic errors about, among other things, morality, race and biological evolution.

  19. bear in mind Plato lived to be immensely old, thanks to the tried & tested Ancient Greek method of eating virtually nothing, fighting other states, and walking about in the sun, and chasing boys, of course. As a result he had phases:

    early Plato is fun and mainly concerned with pissing people off;

    middle Plato (Symposium, Phaedrus) is weightier, ambitious, and artistically highly accomplished;

    late Plato (Republic) is grim and humourlessly fascist. At his best, as in Symposium & Phaedrus, Plato is a sly one indeed.

    You might take comfort in the knowledge that our society is going against Plato's bias against representations - we now live in a culture in which representations (tv, Hello!, etc.) are thought to be more real, more worthwhile, than the physical thing itself - exactly the opposite of Plato, who thought a non-physical 'ideal' was the most real, then the physical thing less real, and representations less & less real.

    This is probably tied in to the dwindling appeal of metaphor & religion, and the ascent of parrots, in some way.

  20. I seemed to see FLann looking over my shoulder as I made that point, Vince. His application of the theory of molecular transference where some policemen were up to 70% bicycle you're obviously familiar with.
    Your observation seems right, Elberry, vis a vis the glorification of the image devoid of content.
    I doubt I'll start a blog but I'm sorely tempted by another thought that struck me as I read 'Illusion & Reality.' As you intimate Plato's style is very elegant and clear but what sparked my mind was the thought of doing something like 'The Straight Man & the Platonic Dialogue,' where all that is given is the utterances of the sidekick in the mentioned dialogue, and the philosopher's utterances ommitted. So here goes anyway:

    The Straight Man & the Platonic Dialogue

    'I see.'
    'An odd picture and an odd sort of prisoner.'
    'How could they see anything else if they were prevented from moving their heads all their lives?'
    'Of course not.'
    'They would be bound to think so.'
    'Yes, inevitably.'
    'Much more real.'
    'Certainly not at first.'
    'Of course.'
    'That must come last.'
    'That is the conclusion he would obviously reach.'
    'Very much so.'
    'Yes, he would prefer anything to a life like theirs.'
    'They certainly would.'

    I'm sure noone will dispute Plato has drawn one of the great characters of literature in this clear thinking, admirably rational individual. A man who knows his mind and doesn't mind expressing it.

  21. Andrew, I must thank you as I've just pulled the DALKEY ARCHIVE from the shelves.
    Have a good evening.

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