Andy McDandy wrote:
See also Big fat gypsy wedding etc, and any other show that's supposed to 'shed light on n insular culture' but is actually all about laughing at people with fake tans and no taste.
The media is a very snobbish/elitist profession - not in a traditional class structure way, but in that anything that's outside the coccoon of Soho/Hoxton is just there to be sneered at.
You're all missing the point if you're blaming Channel 4, let alone singling out individual programmes, these are mere insignificant symptoms. The cause is vast and ancient.
Laughing at freak-shows and the less fortunate in general long pre-dates television. It's not so long ago that our ancestors would throng to see public hangings or to poke fun at the "freaks" (the disabled, the mentally ill, ethnic minorities or the simply unusual) in the circus. The Romans delighted in watching people being savaged by lions and I expect cavemen thought it was fun when someone else stubbed their toe on a rock.
The media take business decisions - shit sells because people like
All the X-Factor/Pop-idol/BGT shows are about jeering at the deluded and the untalented -see what fools they are. Big Brother/TOWIE/Geordie shore are an opportunity to sneer at the working classes - see how common they are. I'm a celebrity/dancing on ice/Strictly are about how the mighty have fallen (literally in some cases) "Look there's the former shadow health secretary, flat on her arse and showing her drawers" - guffaw, guffaw.
They are exercises in smug superiority to comfort insecure people.
It's not just TV - look at the most successful print media The Mail, The Sun, The NOTW etc are all about sneering at the misfortune of others in one way or another.
It's an uncomfortable truth but human society is shot through with schadenfreude and has been throughout human history.