Ban The News and Other Adolescent Life Lessons


South Park – Singing Turds are Hilarious

The first song I knew by heart, apart from maybe ‘Happy Birthday’ was ‘Mr Hankey The Christmas Poo’. I had it on cassette, and played it until the tape wore out and only static was left. Also in my collection was a ‘cuddly’ stuffed Mr. Hankey toy, who would exclaim ‘Hi-de-ho!’ when you squeezed him. It was as grotesque as it sounds.

Amongst other things – a healthy disdain for authority, a whole host of pop culture references and inventive new swear words – South Park taught me that a cheery little singing poo who appears every Christmas Eve is the funniest thing ever. It provided me with hours of entertainment, and probably stunted my emotional growth by a few years as well.

Richard Not Judy – Stewart Lee is God

I was 6 years old when This Morning With Richard Not Judy was on TV, but weirdly the strange figure of Stewart Lee, the babyfaced man who said silly things, managed to remain lodged somewhere at the back of my psyche for over a decade (somewhere next to a fear of flying and repressed sexual trauma).

Richard Not Judy was silly and madcap, but still had that Lee-esque deadpan and anti-comedy elements, an impressive feat for a show that was on during weekday lunchtimes. Although the only viewers were the unemployed, the elderly, and small children like me, the show was way ahead of its time – now that ‘alternative comedy’ is all the rage, and Lee is at the forefront, maybe it’s time for a revival. If anything, it’ll mean that I can have the weirdest nostalgia trip ever.

Brass Eye – News Networks are the Worst

It’s actually pretty hard to tell the difference between Brass Eye and real rolling news stations when you don’t have any real understanding of satire or current affairs. For years I was concerned about the onset of ‘Paedogeddon’ and the destructive influence of Cake on our nation’s youth.

Things became a little disappointing when I actually started watching the news, and I realised that the reality of 24-hour news was far more ridiculous than anything than Chris Morris could ever come up with. A total lack of faith in national media outlets is a fairly complex and bleak lesson to be teaching a child, but it’s one that can only be taught by catching glimpses of Morris trying to buy a Clarkey Cat from a drug dealer after your bedtime.

The News – Everything is Shit, and it Always Will Be

My parents actually allowed me to be in the room when the news was on, and I’m pretty sure it counted as child abuse. No-one under the age of 18 should be allowed to be exposed to all the gratutitous sex and violence that occurs around the world every day.

The last thing I needed on that hot summer’s day in 2001 was to come home and see the World Trade Center falling down. I’d fucked up badly in Show and Tell earlier that day in class, so it really was the last thing I needed.

Every other aspect of TV has changed in the past decade, apart from the bleakness of the news – learning about these inherent horrors of existence is a major part of growing up, but do we really need to be showing these to children?

For every child who’s had nightmares after illegally watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there’s 10 more who didn’t sleep at all after hearing Robert Peston talking sombrely about ‘economic apocalypse’. Ban the news NOW.

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