Nell Frizzell, the fabulous winner of our Columnist brief, takes over the reins today with the first of her weekly outpourings for us - and she's talking live-tweeting...
We used to have a word for people who would rifle through the internet while watching strangers pout and pose on their TV screen; perverts. Now, of course, we call them livebloggers, or perhaps even commentators.
As a crew so motley even Tommy Lee would think twice enter the Ultimate Big Brother house, and yet another generation of shameless no-marks step up to the auto-tuned microphone of X Factor, it’s time to finally lay to rest the critical adage that event TV is dying out. Watercooler television is alive and well; we just don’t discuss it around the watercooler anymore. Why would we, when we can discuss it with the disembodied ghost of Princess Diana on Twitter as it’s happening?
I first became aware of television live-tweeting during the leaders’ debate in the run up to the general election. As David waggled his strangely featureless face, Gordon chomped on his imaginary gob of chewing tobacco and Nick fiddled with his testicles through the hole he’d cut in his suit trousers, I was glued to the biting, hilarious and at times shocking commentary happening on Twitter.
Now, Twitter is what you make it. I follow a lot of comedians, journalists and reporters, so my feed featured people like Armando Iannucci and Jon Snow pointing out the lies, U turns and downright hypocrisy of what was being said from behind those podiums. Had I followed less wisely, I could have spent the night reading about how amazin’ Justin Bieber is and #shitmygirlfriendsays, as the fate of our nation unfurled in front of me.
“Replace Conservatives with the Green Party and this could be the backdrop to a really well-lit reggae night,” someone tweeted as the lights came up on a red, blue and gold studio which had apparently been stolen from the Krypton Factor. “’Do you want five more years of Gordon Brown’ is not a policy” tweeted another.
For years, television companies have pumped millions of pounds into engaging audiences and increasing participation. Sadly, all they really managed to come up with was a couple of seriously flawed and legally suicidal competitions, or the old “press the red button” turn off. Yet, through Twitter, Livejournal and the blog community we can now participate in a huge, immediate and totally uncensored debate on everything from the World Cup ("No matter how far we evolve as a species, people will ALWAYS look at the video screen they appear on rather than the camera that's filming them") to Michael Jackson’s memorial (“Oh dear, Berry Gordy just used the phrase ‘top himself’”).
Traditionalists mourn the years when whole streets would empty as 28.5 million viewers tuned in to see Hilda Ogden leave Coronation Street, or when happy families would gather together to watch a mother and daughter bury the remaining chunks of Trevor Jordache under the patio. But while cheaper technology has undoubtedly individualised television watching (a TV is no longer a piece of investment furniture that takes up half your living space) the internet can bring us together again.
Thanks to Twitter, X Factor has become my event television. If only to read Dianainheaven tweet “Somewhere, a karaoke night is missing an annoying twat. #xfactor”