Confused Views: A fiery abyss

X-Factor rules the world, and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle hasn't got a second series commission as of yet. Matt's off to right some wrongs...

Who would have predicted a day when millions of people would be able to control what they watch on television with the single press of a button? I’m not talking about simply changing the channel here. I’m talking about altering the content of what you’re watching with a little red button on your remote control. What’s really strange is that the only use we, as a society, have for that technology is X Factor.

We get to be panellists on a worthless karaoke competition and decide which human-mannequin we’d like to buy bullshit from. We’ve become part of the thickest, most regressive television program there is. It’s arguably worse than Top Gear. It’s enough to make you want to sacrifice a goat to the dark lord in hope that he will rain fire down upon us from the skies or split the ground open and consume us all in a fiery abyss.

Typically, following the X Factor final, a single from the winner will be rushed out in order to take the Christmas number one single spot. However, this year a counter campaign to get Rage Against the Machine’s Killing In The Name to number one has been launched.

At first I decided to stay away from this. Surely by competing with Simon Cowell, we’re validating his opinion that what he’s doing is worthwhile. Because having a number one single, particularly at Christmas, doesn’t mean anything. It’s about which thing is the most popular. As we well know, in general, popular things are terrible. Shitty films like Transformers make millions of dollars and shitty songs by The Black Eyed Peas sell millions of copies. For Cowell and co. to have the Christmas number one isn’t an achievement, it’s something they should be ashamed of. Let’s not show them that our things can be just as popular, let’s laugh at them for thinking that being so popular is a good thing.

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But as regular readers of this column will know, I have trouble staying in the grasp of a logical response for too long. This last week I’ve been fantasizing about Tom Morello violently decimating Simon Cowell’s skull with his guitar whilst I masturbate, which says to me that maybe this campaign is right.

In fact, in those few breathless seconds of calm afterwards, I’ve been able to see this whole business with crystal clarity. They don’t care about our validation, so fuck ‘em; let’s attack. Let’s all download Killing In The Name and make them feel stupid. Let’s show them just how many of us think that the X Factor is the musical equivalent to a mucus-y anal discharge and that everything they think they’ve achieved over the last few years really doesn’t mean anything at all. Plus, let’s all take the opportunity to listen to Rage Against the Machine, because they’re brilliant.

What I’m now looking for is similar way to send a message to the BBC. Earlier this year the BBC launched two new comedy programs at around the same time. One was Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle and the other was a sketch show by Matt Horne and James Corden. Neither seems likely to return for a second series. In the case of Horne & Corden, a formal announcement has been made that the series has been put on hold indefinitely. Stewart Lee has written on his own website that his series is unlikely to be commissioned to return.

Now, Horne and Corden’s sketch show was awful. It was three hours of jokes based on the concept of a fat man wobbling his gut and a thin man pointing at him doing it. That it’s been cancelled is a good thing. People who like bullshit are already getting their fill. As an unrelated aside, does anyone know when Catherine Tate or Little Britain are coming back on? No? No one? No one at all?

In the case of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, though, it’s a pain in the balls that it’s not coming back. It’s a niche art program. It’s what should be shown on BBC 2. They shouldn’t be chasing ratings – that should be left to the channels that have to rely on advertising revenue. Everyone pays their licence fee and so the programming should have something to cater for everyone. Well, not to every whim of everyone, obviously. That would be too much. That said, the BBC should allow for at least one program that appeals to nerdy comedy fans who write bilious columns on the internet. Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle should be that program.

The perfect antidote to programming like X Factor, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle is sharpest thing I’ve seen on in some time. It’s aggressive in its opinions and it will happily attack the easiest target (Jeremy Clarkson) or the most sacred of cows (Only Fools & Horses). Perhaps the best thing about Stewart Lee is his pride in his intelligence – he’s not pretending to be thick to appeal to the audience, he’s going to be as clever as he can and he wants you to get the jokes.

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I’ve been finding the Confused Views increasingly difficult to conclude recently. All I have for this week is make sure to catch up on Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle if you missed it (and not on YouTube, buy the DVD or watch it somewhere official so that the BBC know about it; make it count), and make sure to buy anything you can to spite Simon Cowell, because he’s a prick.

If we’re happy to settle on that for this week’s ending, I’ll try to get along to my local cinema this week to catch Avatar. I’m bound to have some things to say about that.