August 15: advice: keep pouring an ice bucket onto your heart

These days you have to be a master logician to unpick your own moral or ethical standpoint on most issues. You’ll be pleased to know that advertizing has got wind of this and is delighting in complicating the unravelling. I have never liked the National Lottery. True, you have a slim chance of winning a pile of money and the money goes to causes you might like (you might like shovelling money into that new opium of the people that is sport) but, on the other hand, it fosters a chancer’s approach to life and it takes its money from those people who do not have it to spare. Now the Lottery is blurring the tracks even more with its message that when you win you can help your mates (when you win, who wins with you?) and its suite of heart-warmers (‘Archie helped me when I was down. I’d give him a nice lump sum’. Who wants to deprive old Archie od some money to do up his old garden shed?). How can modern man shun Archie’s old shed? My advice to modern man: keep pouring an ice bucket onto your own heart. The other example of this that has always stuck in my throat is the Pudsie-style BBC-organised celebrity-led charities based on sport or entertainent that constantly constellate our Saturday-night entertainment schedules. Again, the money that members of the public raise or donate is for good causes, but the culture that produces it (celebrity-led, sentimentalized sponging of money from those least able to afford it) is deeply unpleasant. It’s also rubbish telly. Newscasters dancing and dancers newscasting; singers telling you about their favourite books and television actors playing football. The man who once played ‘Dr Who’ telling me off. Some comedian who put his money in an off-shore bank not smiling when he shows pictures of poverty in the world. It’s dystopia. Once again it is the business of a gentle blackmail telling us to give money or feel bad. Unpicking how you feel globally about issues that are intentionally complexified by various institutions is a fact of life these days. You get to feel bad for free. Or, rather, feeling bad has become the entertainment they feed us.

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