This post has nothing to do with Ireland or life in it, but we all need a break now and then. Even me.
It's about quality and public taste, and how the two are very often diametrically opposed – often helped by marketing people, all too keen and ready to exploit public dim-wittedness.
This is an international phenomenon. History is littered with dubious, but successful, products that eclipsed far better rivals.
During World War Two, for instance, the Luftwaffe had the Messerschmitt 109 – an aircraft inferior in most important respects to the Focke Wulf 190. The later FW 190s were even a match for the mighty North American Mustang, yet the aircraft played second fiddle to the older BF109 throughout the war. The Messerschmitt was a bugger to fly and many of them were written off in take-off and landing accidents due to the wheels being too close together, a consequence of their weak wings.
Back in the 80s there was the VHS video system. It was poorer than its rival Betamax, but that didn't stop VHS becoming the standard whilst Betamax was consigned to the cassette bin. A triumph of slippery marketing types in large-framed Elvis Costello glasses and speckled suits. You have to wonder how these people have made our lives worse than they could have been, with their cliche-crammed bullshit and bollocksology.
Then there is Top Gear and Fifth Gear. Sweet suffering Christ, what an utter crock of shite Top Gear is, but that hasn't stopped it becoming one of the most popular TV series in the world, along with an execrable live touring show. I stopped looking at it years ago, after they thought it would be a fabulous wheeze to take the wheels off a Jaguar XJS and put train ones on in their place. They then drove the car on a track... a railway one. Madcap stuff indeed, and quite possibly hilarious if you are three years old or are a public schoolboy.
The only vehicle that features on the show these days is the one that carries the massive egos of its three journalist presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. By contrast Fifth Gear, which of late has been on Discovery, boasts at least three ex-racing drivers who know their stuff and actually review motor cars... sometimes even motorbikes.
Despite all this, Top Gear can count its viewers in multiple millions; Fifth Gear, on the other hand, is relatively cult viewing.
I suppose it all comes down to popular taste, which tends to favour the lightweight – but the power of the Beeb and slick marketing must play a part too.
"Marketing" remarked Edwin Land "is something you do when your product is no good".
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