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December 20, 2016

The Ptara Christmas message

Every year, around the world, heads of state give Christmas messages.  The first time a British Monarch gave such a speech was 1932, when George V said the following.  (If you are patriotic, British, and love history, then this might bring tears to your eyes. Otherwise, it might help you sleep.)

So, what do we at Ptara have to say this Christmas?

Well, viewing the media of the past year, both left and right wing, both highbrow and tabloid, has taught me one thing. There’s more historical proof for the existence of Santa Claus than there is for most of the “events” the have moved history, and that includes the lies and rumours of our time.

We have the gifts of snopes, or common sense, of highly respected reference books which are freely available online, and yet many of us, including journalists, don’t have the sense to use these gifts.

We often wonder why this is, and we think we have a theory.  It’s called tenure.

Tenured professors, who were once great lecturers, continue giving lectures way past their prime.  Sure, some amazing people continue providing us with great new ideas well past the age of 100, but not everyone is so fortunate.  Some of us retire before then, or lose the ability to speak.

However, even if you can’t work, that doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the new economy.  If you go to UCL, you can still see Jeremy Bentham’s head, ready to be rolled out to attend board meetings, over 170 years after his death.  Now that’s tenure!

Well, if you think that’s a gruesome example of gerontocracy, just read a copy of what once were the top magazines and newspapers, and you’ll see articles by journalists who stopped working almost as long ago as Bentham did.  Sure, some of them are younger than you, but they stopped working at birth.

The problem with our modern world is, as we see it, an infatuation with celebrity culture.  The broadcasting age brought a kind of power to the charismatic TV star, a power that has been abused in many ways.  Often, someone who looks great gets away with saying nothing, doing nothing, just sitting there and looking great for the camera.   And that’s the best case scenario.

Note: making fun of people who have fewer formal qualifications than you have does not make you an intellectual, it just makes you a nerdy bully.

Like George V, they might have a top writer supply them with a script, but their dead delivery makes even the best script boring.  We learn what amateur Shakespeare societies have known for generations, that no matter how pretty you are, or you great the script is, you’ll have to learn your lines.  Or do we?

We have simplified lines, reality television, even reality films masquerading as documentaries, but none of that is so bad.  Where I draw the line is reality writing, reality journals masquerading as intellectual.

Note: making fun of people who have fewer formal qualifications than you have does not make you an intellectual, it just makes you a nerdy bully.  And many of those people have more qualifications than you think they have anyway.

Reality journals, their condescending attitude, their repetitive mantras, and their tenured brands and writers (many of whom are athletes or TV stars who have honorary college degrees that they didn’t earn) are really getting on my nerves.

So, our new rules, for the rest of the year, will be no celebrities, no adaptations, no “tried and true” stories or ideas.  If a story has appeared on TV, or with a bigger brand, then it doesn’t belong here. If a writer brags about their fame, then we’ll reject everything they say.

As for others, there will be no favouritism.  Every story will be judged on its own merit, not on the past work of the writer.  Everyone, even our own staff will have to go through a selective process before being published on Ptara’s pages.  If you see a celebrity on these pages, unless that celebrity is as dead as George V and Jeremy Bentham, you will know that it is advertising, and not our content.  (Even they will have to audition to get in.  We don’t really like stories about dead celebrities either.)

Ptara will have an experimental nature to fit its experimental name.  But, it will be selectively experimental: we won’t subject the public to all the losing entries or subject the losers to public humiliation of defeat.

We will carry this policy through until the end of the year.  If it works out, we might continue this policy through 2017 as well.

 

Merry Christmas, and have a happy New Year, from all of us at Ptara.