It’s official. I am a Twitter failure, a social media loser. On any view of things, coming across the name ‘Ryan Giggs’ through the voice of a BBC Radio 4 news announcer is not really indicative of social media success. I can offer a heap of excuses, but honesty compels me to admit that I am currently doing the equivalent of shouting out to no-one in particular in cyberspace and not doing a terribly good job of listening. When the anonymous-footballer-scandal story first hit, I intermittently had a peek at Twitter to see if the ‘What’s Trending Now’ threads shed any light on the matter, but nothing was trending about Mr Giggs at those particular moments in time. I wasn’t interested enough to try searching properly; I was just a bit intrigued about the nonsense of the whole thing.
Ryan Giggs’ shenanigans are one thing. But I seem to be missing other far more important items, and that is rather more worrying. I caught an item of the radio this morning about structured reality shows, which are the buzz topic within social media these days. Given my post yesterday on Beatrice Gibson’s work, it naturally grabbed my attention, and was certainly a worthwhile insight into the concept of ‘reality’ albeit this time in the context of media entertainment; particularly digital tv. I can’t deny that I was slightly cross with myself that I hadn’t heard of any of the more recent programmes discussed. Despite all my online exchanges, I am truly living in some sort of unbelievable black-out zone which is more than a bit embarrassing.
The Only Way Is Essex is, it seems, a Bafta award-winning ‘reality’ show in which the characters are ‘real’, playing themselves with all their own emotions, but set up in a structure within which they speak their unscripted lines. Some people have complained that it misrepresents Essex, but I suppose that begs the question “what is Essex?” and who on earth dares to try and answer that? In fact, it all leads back into the whole loop of what is real, and what is not, and life just gets more and more complicated.
Structured reality; manipulated reality: however it’s viewed, it seems it has huge entertainment value and has grabbed the attention of a lot of people out there. I find the whole concept intriguing from the creativity aspect. Structure as a platform for creativity has a long history. At the Pavilion event earlier this week, another work Beatrice Gibson discussed was her new venture with Will Holder, based on The Tiger’s Eye, a text-based music score written by Cornelius Cardew in the 1960s. Cardew wanted the musicians performing the work to take on a co-authorship role through their improvised performance responses to the score. But in the 24 hour world of entertainment demanded by the public of the 21st century, I suppose that it is the way shows such as The Only Way Is Essex have been able to take advantage of the real-time immediacy possibilities of social media which makes them so compelling.