The longest that Passengers allows any one shot to linger on the screen is approximately three seconds. Market research seems to have indicated that their target audience loses interest round about the three and a half seconds mark. After four they're yawning, and after five they're channel surfing.
So the editorial tactic is to keep it short and sweet: you flash a talking head on the screen, then show something else, preferably with not many clothes on, and then come back, then cut to someone vomiting or dancing or, for preference, both. Or you continue with the talking head, but film it from a different angle, usually a wonky or wobbly one. Most reports hop and skip so much they look like they were shot by a bare-footed cameraman on hot sand. Of course, some of them, like last night's stories from the Nevada desert and the Brazilian beach, genuinely were.
The hunt for items in which sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and violence all dovetail means that Passengers frequently features rap artists. They particularly favour overweight ones, because they're the most jumpcut-friendly interviewees. Like Thunderbirds puppets, they don't move their lips when talking. Unlike Thunderbirds puppets, they're incomprehensible, so dubbing their voices over footage where they could be saying something completely different is not a problem: they're a cinch to sync. "Youknowadamsayin?" they keep on saying. In fact, the only time you know what they're saying is when they ask if you know what they're saying.
This week's fat rapper was ex-drug dealer BIG, also known as Biggie Smalls, or plain Christopher to his mom. Passengers has slightly less time for scepticism than Playschool, but here was an exception. Watching Biggie's mother wrap the rapper on the knuckles for never calling her showed that the programme doesn't take its subjects at their own estimation.
Elsewhere, we were in Brazil for a piece about a marriage agency that introduces well-stacked babes to well-fed Germans. Not a difficult item to illustrate, this. On the beach we found sundry potbellied Teutons slumped on deckchairs and leering at basically naked Latin show-ponies who lolloped up and down the sand on bronzed haunches. This could have been a probing report, because a marital pact in which the man gets great sex and the woman leaves poverty behind is actually licensed prostitution. But if Passengers has a cultural ancestor it's those straitjacketed old Pathe newsreels: it finds the story, then refuses to tell the half of it.Reuse content