Friday, 27 November 2009

Talk Show Blues you have a bit of time on your hands, it's late at night, perhaps you've had a drink or two. The radio is on and some angry men (they are usually men - women write letters) are shouting at each other. They think they're having a rational, lucid conversation. They're not, of course: it's entertainment. Welcome to the world of late night talk radio.

But then you get carried away. Someone says something you don't like. And before you know it, you've picked up the phone and you're dialing away...

Radio talk shows thrive on controversy, testosterone and the complete incapacity of man to hold his fellow man in anything other than the deepest contempt. Without these shouting heads, the format would be dead. It thrives on provocation and overstatement.

So pity poor Eli Barak of Ramat Gan, who thought he was playing by the rules when he called Nissim Cohen, of Bnei Barak, a "bum who didn't serve in the Army."

Unfortunately for him, Cohen, a 'rightist' (whatever that means) did serve in the Army. And Cohen decided to sue Barak (obviously, a 'leftist') for libel. the result? NIS 40 000 in damages, plus a written apology. The full story is here.

I actually found the article rather fascinating, opening up an illicit new world that I scarcely knew existed. Of serial talkbackers (incidentally - someone tells me that 'talkbacker' is a uniquely English-Israeli word, or at least originated here. Can anyone confirm or refute?), radio show participants/provocateurs and the like. The penultimate paragraph of the article seems to sum the phenomena up quite succinctly.

"The respective talk show hosts are tired of airing the same speakers again and again. the participants, who want to talk a lot, all the time, are forced to seek other outlets, such as talkbacks or Big Brother."

The article then quotes a chap called Zur, described as an "obsessive radio listener":

"I've been to two auditions," says Zur. "I told them people talk nonsense on those radio shows. I want to talk politics, to blast people (I didn't realise the two activities were mutually compatible, but there you go). They took me for a four-hour simulation with 16 other people. You won't believe what morons were there. What ignorance. There's no one to talk to."

Frankly, it sounds like they all deserve one another.

Have a good weekend, post-Thanksgiving and/or Eid.

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