Archive for the ‘journalism’ Tag

Holey Moley: Panorama vs Dispatches.

Rarely am I so frustrated at bad television that I want to throw my shoe at it. This is because I am a big fan of bad television – proof of this is that myself and my flatmate Charlotte currently pay £10 a month more than necessary to Virgin Media just so that we can have LivingTV. Literally, that’s the only reason.

So what was it, on television last night, that made me curse my feet’s rejection any footwear other than flats? (If you’re going to smash a TV, do it well – with heels, that’s what I say.) It was Dispatches, on Channel 4 at 9pm.

Now, I’ve not watched much Dispatches before (same time as America’s Next Top Model I expect), but in response to my copious moaning today, people tell me it’s usually quite good. Well last night it wasn’t. It was dreadful.

I think one of my main problems was that I turned to Dispatches, enticingly entitled The Hidden World of Lap Dancing after watching Panorama on BBC1 about racism in the police force. The BBC’s The Secret Policeman Returns was smoothly done (Tetley’s Bitter would be proud), with a variety of revealing interviews and some quite shocking statistics from various sources, including FOI requests.

Dispatches, on the other hand, relied soley on one man and his camera going into lap dancing clubs and seeing how much sex he could get for his money. The investigative journalism went no further – not a FOI request (investigative journalism for the lazy) in sight.

Sometimes the mole’s (or Moley, as I will now call him) money couldn’t get him any sex – but, never fear – Dispatches balanced this (literal!) anticlimax with laughable quanties of naked women dancing. To describe last nights’ Dispatches as soft porn would an insult to the word soft.

One time however (and how the producers must have wept with relief) Moley was explicitly offered sex. But the girls who offered it said that if the club found out they’d be sacked. In my opinion, this isn’t revealing. This is like any woman offering any man sex for money; the fact that it happened to be in a lap dancing club is inconsequential. Dispatches unsurprisingly disagreed.

Do not, however, get the impression that Dispatches wasn’t entertaining viewing. When not laughing at the gratuitous nakedness, one could always find humour in Moley’s desperate attempts to get the girls to explicitly state sexual intentions to the camera. The extent to which he pushed their intelligent reluctance to talk candidly (if for no other reason than the intrinsic unsexiness of the word “wank”) implied that he was in a strip club, but didn’t actually know what sex was. Bless.

Last night’s Dispatches only served to prove to me firstly, that I should stick with LivingTV, and secondly, that quality invesitagtive journalism still exists, just in the form of Panorama. I’m pretty sure this is not what the producers will have intended.