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Sunday, 22 February 2009

Hello, Goodbye, Sky1

Did we like it?
Former X-Factor presenter tries to make people cry in airports to attract viewers, and therefore advertising revenue, by communicating in such sensual, animalistic argots as to make wolves look civilised.

What was good about it?
• We’re sorry to say that there is a hypnotic, dread fascination with this digital vulgarism – each time host Kate Thornton appears you wonder what semantic stratagem she will employ to make her target cry.
• For a couple spending some time apart she asked, “Is it love?”, causing the woman to cry. “Are you sad to see your brother go?” for a South African man returning home. Each time trying to nudge the victim into an emotional vortex, to make them starkly consider what they’re losing, or, in the case of arrivals, what they’re getting back. It#s perhaps the ultimate consequence of reality TV in that it excises all the time-consuming getting to know you spiel and cuts straight to ready made sorrow.
• The people waiting in the airport either to depart or for someone to arrive were all perfectly decent people, and we felt bad on their behalf that they were being exploited in this manner for such a cheap TV show that simply sought to make people cry to communicate with the viewer at the basest, most instinctive level.

What was bad about it?
• It’s apparent that the show was devised by first calculating when people are at their weakest emotionally without it being obscene, say at a roadcrash, and the research has found that airports was the winner.
• The conceit is introduced through one of those bland truisms that are so obvious they aren’t worthy of note, or a TV programme, and then tries to instigate your interest in it. “At an airport you see people saying hello and goodbye; true moments of joy, tears, sorrow and laughter!” The observation is accurate enough but it’s something everyone goes through, and is therefore unremarkable.
• Of course, Kate just doesn’t approach each of her targets have been scrutinised by the production team beforehand to establish that they both have a story tinged with a tragedy or loss they are trying to overcome, and, more importantly, that they are likely to cry.
• Although the illusion is that Kate simply goes up to people for the first time, and, quite by chance, they or the person they’re greeting has either just suffered from a serious illness or they are grieving a loved one who died recently.
• This is where it becomes uncomfortable as there’s no Surprise, Surprise trip of a lifetime to soften the grotesque sentimentality, for those departing it’s a case of: ‘How are you?’ ‘Tell us your sob story’ ‘Can I make you cry?’ ‘Oh look, here’s the person you’re waiting for, now go and greet them in slow motion to the music of something they sing in X-Factor week six’.

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