What does Barack Obama, Russell Brand and the BBC all have in common?
Along with the full cast of Big Brother, they’re all winners or victims of a cultural revolution that’s happening all around us – The emergence of the ‘cult’ of personality! Add a good dose of celebrity and fame and you’ve got it – a revolution where your new best friend or your new worst enemy is someone you’ve never even met before.
Who would have thought it? Possibly the makers of a hit US series 24 with Jack Bauer and President Dave, but outside of that – the appearance of a black president in the White House has staggered even the most liberal thinkers.
For some cynics and realists, people weren’t voting for Obama, but against Bush. For those who understand our changing culture, people weren’t voting directly for policy, but for personality – they were voting for the one they felt more connected with, most at home with and most loved by! Emotion rules even for the highest of posts. There was however someone in history who paved the way for emotional prejudices to be neutered enough for new emotional ties to swing it all into the history books. His name was Martin Luther King! Without a Martin, there would be no Barack. Without a cultural Pioneer, who was shot dead for his endeavours, there would be no cultural change. And it’s the same today. The Barack Obama of the future are let loose by the Martin Luthers of today. And this day needs more cultural architects and pioneers who will dare to have a dream to create the kind of society we truly need – society that truly goes far beyond the breaking of negative prejudices! Far beyond skin colour and climate change, we need a celebration of every person for who they are and not just what they do. We need a preservation of every person’s dignity through the foundational values of integrity and morality as well as the protection of every person from the demeaning forces of godlessness and secularism. It’s certainly not the day to leave it all to the BBC.
The birthing of a personality led culture is, I believe, a welcome step forward in the celebration of who people are, not just what they do. The huge success of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ which has been franchised to over 35 countries making it the most watched television show in the world (where we see our stars through the lens of personality and humanity not just talent and professionalism), and the dramatic rise in reality TV shows are all a part of the up draft of this cultural revolution – Obama included.
X Factor is promoted as a singing competition when in reality it’s a personality driven soap opera. The person who wins is never the best singer (with the exception of Leona Lewis) – they’re the person the Great British Public felt most connected to. Being a talented underdog with emotional scars and vulnerabilities does really help win hearts first then the important votes second.
People say that we live in an age where people can become celebrities for having no talent at all! The BBC’s top 10 greatest Britons of all time only involved one person with out any outstanding talent as a leader, wordsmith or big bridge builder – their name was Princess Diana and she just happened to be the most recent of inclusions and a great reflection on how personality now leads the charge to celebrity.
The problem, however, with personality is that it’s not only the window to a broken soul but, as in the case of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, a slightly disturbed soul. If you want personality, you’ll get both the silver and the sludge. The silver is what we see in the unique ability of a Paul O’Grady to make everyone from the youngest to oldest to feel both included and valued. The sludge is in the indecency, filth and disrespect that is the essence of Brand behind the quick wit and dextrous forked tongue.
The BBC have found themselves in an unsolvable conundrum that is the black hole of trying to please everyone. Their public remit is to please and be popular – hence the inclusion of Brand and Ross on the BBC Radio 2 timetable. Their private remit is to maintain a high brow view of anything course or smutty, as well as attempt to fulfil some of the fantasies and curiosities of the dark side of human nature. It attempts to do that by never directly visiting places of sin but by doing just that through the respectable vehicle of distinguished drama and incisive documentary. It’s voyerism through the back door. It’s not Brand’s fault that he’s been forced to resign – he was employed to do what Brand does – ignore social, moral and traditional boundaries for the sake of a laugh: picking on a Royal Treasure in one of the cast of Faulty Towers was a mistake though! If it had been Kerry Katona or Heather Mills-McCartney it would never have raised an eyebrow. It wasn’t long ago that the BBC received 50,000 complaints about Jerry Spinger The Opera and not one head rolled. 40 000 over a slice of English heritage and heads are still rolling.
The schizophrenic nature of our society is in full force – a whole season of turning a blind eye or even laughing out loud to the sleazy overtones of Ross and Brand, Then suddenly a witch hunt that has sobered everyone who is both funny and works for the corporation.
From a Christian point of view, talent and personality both come from God. Psalm 139 displays the clear vision that God had and has over everything that makes us who we are! The spirit of religion has been merciless at robbing people, especially Christians and their leaders, of these priceless gifts. Charisma, money and sex have for centuries been a closed shop of carnal indulgence. The truth, however, is that each of these are gifts of the Father. It’s what they are attached to that either creates or destroys. Becoming a Christian is the detachment of personality and creativity from the sins of selfishness and decadence and a reattachment to the desires and delight of a God who simply wants the very best for us. It’s change of heart, not a change of personality.
If sin wasn’t so destructive, it would be fine by God. Jesus is not a kill joy, sin is. It robs people of their dignity; it worms its way into the hearts of good people and it uses its victims every time without any real regard for their future. Sin needs to be severed from the side of creativity to allow creativity to once again rise to be one of the Kingdom of God’s chief assistants.
In the quagmire of our current society that’s swilling with creativity, carnality, conscience and the all important career ladders of all who want to make it in the world, it’s time for a ‘Luther’ spirit to arise and stand up for the new world that one wishes to see and be a part of.
All we need is for people to have a change of heart where being found by the Love of Heaven supersedes being found by Simon Cowell; a change of mind where creativity is no longer joined at the hip with depravity; and a change of direction – where not only kids are protected from the vultures of culture but we are too.
Let’s not leave all that to the Beeb!