Speak To The Nation

A voice for all seasons

[written 2006]

Each decade seems to have its own individuality.  Examples like the 1950s Rockers, the 1980’s excess, even the 1890’s engineering.

However the 2000’s are too young and incomplete to judge but early indications are that the time we are living now may well be remembered as the time of celebrity.

In fact, a particular brand of publicly available, disposable celebrity that every young person seems to think is their inalienable right.

And I think maybe a little known Dutch company is to blame.

Endemol Productions devised Big Brother almost a decade ago but now its tentacles spread far and wide.  The phenomenon continues unabated and promises the dream of ‘being somebody’ to everyday nobodies.

The never ending contestants’ limitless desire to achieve a career [read richies] out of merely being known is almost eqaully matched by our own natural voyerism into these real-life soap operas.

So endemic is the problem that natural talent is being side-lined for manufactured pop-culture.

A good example of this is the huge list of singing competitions.  In the past to be a songbird usually meant teaming up with a writer and creating something, not rearranging someone else’s work.

And as a writer this gnarls at my groin.

It’s time to fight back and I’ll do it in my old traditional way – by joining them!

Although scathing about the concept of fame TV I actually have a desire to be part of it.

I too am seduced by the promise of eeking out an easy living and would relish the lightweight, unearned adoration that entails the lifestyle.  Cheap, but desireable nonetheless.

But Reality TV producer’s don’t come knocking at the door, at least not mine, so I need to get positive and the way I propose is to propose a way.

My idea is to set up a few video booths around the country and invite anybody who cares to leave any message they want.

They would be stationed in public squares, parks and stations and be the twenty-first century version of speaking at Hyde Park corner.

The messages will be recorded and sifted by a team of editors to extract the interesting from the banal, with the best featuring on a weekly programme.

Some may choose to record daily dairies, others may vent their spleen, but most will just be childish giggling and vociferous slang.

Not to worry, talent and interest will shine through and there will be gold amongst the dross.

I know you are now thinking that this has been done before.  After all, even the failed contestants of some singing shows get their chance to prove in a video booth why they were not selected the first time round.  So why would this format be successful?

The answer is money.

The twist would be that it would cost a nominal amount to record the message.  The booths would operate only on the basis of fiscal intercourse.

In the same way that TV companies love programmes that force viewers to pay by voting on a telephony device, producers would love a TV system that pays for itself to be made.

All I need now is a TV Production Company and I’ll be able to share the decade with the Dutch.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 13 Jun 2018
First Published:
 Version 2.03 in Jun 2006
‘Big Brother’ is a fly on the wall style documentary TV programme whereby miked up participants, chosen by their personalities and looks are grouped to live close to each other in a house surrounded by cameras to capture their every movement and conversation.  The footage is edited to entertain and as time progresses the viewers get a chance to vote out the least interesting characters thereby ending with a winner who receives a cash award
If you are thinking this idea is just YouTube which is a widely used free service please note that I offered this idea in Jun 2006.  YouTube was only founded as a web address in Feb 2005 and it took a few months to get funding and wasn’t formally launched until Dec of that year.  In mid 2006 it wasn’t that well known, certainly not by me.  In fact it wasn’t until 2010 that I uploaded my first video to YouTube

Fame

A True Fifeteen Minutes Story

[Updated]

I’m a big fan of internet auction sites, or rather one in particular, namely eBay.  I use it to sell on all my unwanted items and am rewarded with an above average financial return.

So I always read with interest any stories of unusual sales.  The sort where someone offers two pounds for a pound coin or when a wife tries to sell her husband.

To this end I always wanted to do a spoof of my own.  I figured that I’d try to get a definitive answer to the perennial question – What’s the price of fame?

I set up an auction offering, to the highest bidder, a news story submission to their local and national media about the bid.

I envisaged the story tagged with ‘At last, we know the price of fame.  Mr. Winningbidder bid £x to have his name in the papers and get his 15 minutes of fame’.

So I set it up on the ubiquitous site and waited for a reply.

The auction would last ten days so that there was plenty of time for the world’s media to find it.  Unfortunately, not one picked up on the story.

I tried to excite interest by emailing eBay and notifying them of the opportunity of free advertising but the chap in a garage that runs the whole site was having a burger at the time, or counting his profits (I presume).

A few souls found the site and in the end I think about 150 people actually visited to see what it was all about.  Probably mostly geeks not actually getting a life.

And one of these actually started the bidding.  I was in business.

Now anyone who has used these auction sites knows that the bids come fast and thick toward the end of the auction particularly if one person has taken the plunge.  I prepared for an auction battle.

I said prepared but this was more in the mental rather than physical way.  There is little one can do whilst the auction is live, other than answer the dumb questions that the viewers think of, such as; “Can you tell me how many of these single items you have please?” Or, “What colour is the red post box?” Or “You say the postage to the USA is £6.00 so how much is it to Texas?”

None of these questions were asked during this auction though, unsurprisingly.

Finally the auction ended and I was left with a winner.

I emailed him straight away congratulating him on his impressive auctioneering skills and requesting the winning pound.  I explained that all I needed was his name and location so that I could honour the auction promise and contact his local rag as well as the nationals.

I had a reply.

Only it wasn’t of the nature you expect from someone who just won an auction whose prize was fame.

He asked how I was to maintain confidentiality, refusing to tell me his real name, even after assurances that I wasn’t out to belittle his achievement or pass on his details.  He was adamant and asked; “Can I do it anonymously?”

So there you have it.

The price of fame is one pound.  And the winner is anonymous.

Not that I ever received the pound, he still had reservations about his fame being made public.  But I didn’t give him a negative comment on the auction site.  After all, why mock the afflicted?

Of course, all this got me thinking about other auctions I could devise.  Some might say that they are nothing more than a scam on the gullible but my motives would be purer – Entertainment.  After all we all enjoy the newspaper snippets and forwarded emails about these silly auctions.

So my next idea would be to advertise ‘Absolutely Nothing’.  Yes, this ten-day auction would lead to the biggest anti-climax in the history of auctions with the winner getting Sod All.

Or if that idea proves unpopular I could run an auction advertising ‘A Little Piece of History’. This time the winner would get something but the reward may not meet the hype I would imply.  The winner will be sent a copy of yesterday’s newspaper.

Finally, I could offer ‘The Chance to be Completely Ignored’.  I would send a message to all those who placed a bid but will completely and utterly ignore the winner.  No acknowledgement, no invoice and no replies to any correspondance whatsoever.  Certainly not any comments.  I figured this may be of interest to Captains of Industry or Prima-Donna rock and movie stars who are fed up to their back teeth with sycophants.

As far as I know the above suggested auctions have never been tried.

I will not try them myself but anyone is welcome to use the ideas providing that it is done at your own risk and under an understanding that no responsibility is accepted by me.  It would be courteous for you to acknowledge source with a phrase such as ‘From a suggestion by the inventive wit of the vinceunlimited website’ and to send me at least ten percent of anything significant made.

Incidently I define significant as anything over three quid!

Anyway the original idea is now passing to you readers.  I’m offering to extend the auction for fame indefinitely.  Do you want your 15 minutes?  Email me an offer, over £1.00 please.  Every time the bid increases I’ll carry out my first promise, updating details on my website as well, just as long as you pay up.

Just please don’t do it anonymously!

And as they say – Send no money now!

Author: Vince Poynter
From the blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 5 Mar 2018
First Published on the website in version 1.03 in Feb 2005

This update first Published on the website in version 1.04 in Mar 2005