Being Modern: Hate-watching
Sunday 20 January 2013
So what were you doing on the first Saturday of 2013? Don't tell me: having peacocked your way round the local park on a 500m run, you were about to settle in for a night inhaling seaweed snacks in front of a BBC4 documentary.
Only for all those New Year's "amazing person" plans to come to a halt when you flicked on to ITV's celebrity diving comp Splash! – a veritable floater in the lido of the schedules that you found physically impossible to switch off, your remote-control fingers having mutinied as soon as the first contestant turned out to be a Sugababe who "couldn't really swim".
And how to explain the cultural spasm that led to you and 5.6 million hauling the belly-flopping show to the top of the ratings? Put simply, "hate-watching". The activity first came to the fore last year in a New Yorker article, "Hate-watching Smash", which detailed the writer's compulsive need to watch the Broadway drama dud. Nine months on, and the phrase has become common currency among large swathes of the English-speaking world with a talent for lying on the sofa and a capacity for snark.
And what is it exactly? Well, it's not, repeat not, watching something as a "guilty pleasure". After all, "guilty pleasures" tend to be things you like, however difficult it is for the cowardly conformist in you to admit. No, it's far bleaker than that: revelling in something you find incontrovertibly awful, largely so you can slag it off.
You can hate-watch series (2 Broke Girls, say, or Mr Selfridge) or whole sub-genres (Laadz-abroad docs or things with "Big Fat" in the title). And when it comes to reality TV, you can complement your hate-watching with some hate-voting (not to say the X Factor success of Christopher Maloney was the result of anything other than an appreciation of emotive 1980s classics).
Just watch out that the "hate" prefix doesn't colonise other parts of your routine. Currently, I am hate-listening to Britney and Will.I.Am's single while preparing to hate-eat an Innocent Vegetable Pot so I can wither about its resemblance to a small compost bin on Twitter.
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 2 Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Christmas 2014: The three most intriguing celebrity panto appearances
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Beyonce '7/11' music video: Star bounces on bed and films daughter Blue Ivy in lo-fi homage to viral video
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track