Sunday 18 August 2019

The old television is still somehow at the 'Cutting Edge'

  • Brendan O'Connor's Cutting Edge (RTE1)
Brendan O’Connor. Photo: Andres Poveda
Brendan O’Connor. Photo: Andres Poveda
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

There is never any problem finding someone to point out how bad the telly is getting, so it is also necessary sometimes to point out how good it is - how it is still better on the whole than any other medium which is pretending to usurp it. Better than we ever give it credit for, maybe a bit like, say, newspapers…..

Indeed, you could get a bit of both with Brendan O'Connor of this newspaper presenting his Cutting Edge, which is now rolling along in the kind of groove that only comes with that most elusive of show-business phenomena, the thing that works.

It seems easy now, whatever they're doing around that table - or at least it is easy for the viewer. Usually the stuff that is easy for the presenters is very hard for the viewer.

And when you consider that some of us are coming to Cutting Edge straight after an evening of glorious Champions League action, you can see the validity of my position here - you're not going to be getting that on your Twitter machine, my friend.

That would be glorious Champions League action to supplement our top Premier League action, with occasional diversions to the Masters to watch Tiger doing it in real time.

Yes I am glad that I still have the telly, on the whole. I can think of only one thing that displeases me in the whole of the above, and that is the way that the top players now talk to one another on the pitch either during or after a game, with their hands covering their faces. At such moments I feel that they are excluding me, and the rest of the multitudes, from some higher sport in which they are engaged.

But that is not the fault of television, they are doing it mainly for fear of getting into trouble on the internet.

And last week if you were looking for live TV action, along with Brendan and the football and the golf, there was the burning of Notre Dame.

It had always been a wondrous thing to behold, Notre Dame. But in our sadness at the terrible scenes which have visited the great cathedral, we should also perhaps reflect on how wondrous it is to behold Notre Dame burning down, on Sky News. Sometimes we forget that our ancestors had no Breaking News to guide them, indeed often they had no news of any kind, until about three months after it was all over. Now you can watch one of the most famous buildings in the history of the world going up in flames on TV, as you make yourself a TV dinner.

And then you might argue that Channel 4 News was a bit late with its investigative report about how Leave.EU, a pro-Brexit group, faked a video about how easy it is to sneak migrants into Britain, and "staged" incidents of migrants attacking young women in London.

Since these went viral before the referendum, certainly it was a pity that we were only discovering these pictures now, but personally I rejoice in the fact that Channel 4 News discovered them at all. In these situations, television can still be the world's policeman.

Which used to be the job of the United States, until the Trumper figured that the world - and especially America itself - had had enough of the police and of the law in general.

He also brings us to the one troubling note in this hymn of praise to the telly, the fact that Trump has a demonic understanding of it, to the extent that he has turned his presidency into a television programme.

He does not see it as being "like" a TV programme, but as an actual show in which at the end of every episode, he must emerge as the winner.

And in the fullness of time, this kind of leadership may bring about the sort of conflagration that will make the burning of Notre Dame look like a minor disturbance at a barbecue.

But it is also highly likely that just as television made Trump, it will destroy him.

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