Tom Hodgkinson: Who arrives at the door when the pig has been killed? The Methodist minister

 

Share
Related Topics

When watching television with my children, I attempt  to keep up a stream of anti-consumerist propaganda. “The sole purpose of ITV,” I tell them, “is to sell advertising space to brands and make money for the owners.”

“It’s to entertain as well,” they argue back.

“But only in the service of selling product.”

The advertising works. It works in a very obvious way on Henry, my youngest child. “I so want one of those!” he will say after watching a clever ad for some gewgaw.

“It’s like Twitter and Facebook,” I insist. “You are not the customer. You are the product. Twitter, Facebook and ITV sell you to the highest bidder.”

Some people might think such Situationist diatribes rather ruin the fun of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, but I reckon it improves the experience. It gives it purpose.

I’m a Celebrity… attracts 12 million viewers, four million more than The X Factor. During a one-hour broadcast, there are five ad breaks, each of which, by my reckoning, comprises 10 or so ads, all competing for our debt. So we view around 50 ads per show. There are ads for Asda, Tesco and Aldi, each selling the fantasy of a harmonious family Christmas which can be purchased by choosing their products. Fast-food outlets KFC and McDonald’s. Department stores such as John Lewis. Tech items such as the iPhone, Google Chrome, Toshiba tablets. British Gas is in there (good to see it’s spending money on reducing our energy bills).

And how are we going to pay for this stuff? Easy. Money-lenders Wonga bought a slot, as did money-lenders Barclays. That awful Lloyd’s ad, the one about Rosie’s Diner, a purely fictitious story by the way, performed by actors, pops up. Each gives me the chance to pour some counter-propaganda down the kids’ throats. “Wonga are usurers, they extract profit from poverty!” I bellow. “They would have been sent to hell in the Middle Ages.” My daughter Delilah, 11, looks up from her iPad, on which she has presumably been absorbing other advertisements. “Any company that can afford an ad on telly is making too much money!” I inform them.

Now, I have nothing against business. I run one. I am of the view of GK Chesterton, who said that the problem with capitalism is that it does not produce enough capitalists. My vision of a just society is not a socialist utopia where an enlightened state protects and guides its citizens. It is of a federation of small businesspeople with lots of leisure time for education and merry-making.

In our current system, practically everyone works for either the state or a big company. Six million people work for the government – a fifth of the working population. There are 3.5 million self-employed, but 250,000 are GPs, so they don’t count, since they live off the alliance between state and drugs companies. Of the others, many work for the government indirectly, servicing councils and state. The total income-tax pot is £470bn, and there are a lot of people competing for a slice.

There was one small ray of light within the barrage of corporate communication: an ad for Small Business Saturday. An American idea, it is designed to get people to support their local small businesses. I hope it works. Unfortunately, it encourages people to use those tiny cottage industries Facebook and Twitter to “spread the word”. It was good, though, to see a voice on telly standing up for the independents.

Our day will come – until then I will have to content myself with the time-honoured revolutionary tactic of shouting at the TV.

Tom Hodgkinson is editor of 'The Idler'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform