Boggart Blog has said it before (we probably havent but who remembers every word we have ever published?) but the march of civilisation has definitely gone into reverse. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of low budget reality television or Bread and Circuses TV as it is known in the office here. B&CTV, so called in memory of the Roman blogger Juvenal who said bread and circuses were the only concerns of a decadent population in a decaying empire.
The phrase was credited to Emperor Antonius Blairus who allegedly said on being told the people ere revolting replied Well give then bread and circuses. Juvenal however was not as reliable a source as Boggart Blog and might have made it up. It is noteworthy though that Blairus did not say Give them wine and circuses, at least he learned the lesson of the twenty four hour drinking debacle and did nothing further to encourage binge drinking.
We cannot comment on the bread that was provided except to say it was probably not at all like a Sainsburys white sliced. Roman circuses however are documented in goreious detail and what a spectacle they must have been. Not of your pratting about with jugglers and acrobats, the major attractions were almost as frightening as modern clowns.
There were fights to the death featuring hamstringing, amputations, disembowelling and beheading, there were lions and tigers fighting Christians, bears and bulls fighting pagans, lions and tigers fighting bears and bulls, pagans fighting each other (top of the bill that one.) and for the grand finale, lions, tigers, bears, bulls and pagans all fighting each other in a cage filled with the squelchy bits of disembowelled Christians.
At any time during the fights anyone (including audience members) who did not like fighting (this meant Christians) could shout Im a Christian, disembowel me honourably, and they would be rescued from the arena and taken away to be crucified and disembowelled for the amusement of people who could not afford the two sesterces entrance fee.
Another Roman entertainment that has inspired at modern ritual humiliation reality TV show was Gladiatr – X Factor in which novice Gladiators would fight for their lives, a gladius of their own and a contract to disembowel anyone who displeased the Emperor. Each week the surviving Gladiators would face a public vote and the one who had least support would be led to the dias and disembowelled in front of the Imperial box. The most popular part of Gladiatr – X Factor were the first auditions. At this stage the audience could laugh at the efforts of complete imbeciles with dodgy haircuts to handle swords, spears, tridents and nets or long poles with nails in the end. The best thing about these clownish performances was that some of the applicants wanted it so much they would continue fighting with almost severed arms, legs or heads flopping about and body organs spilling from ineptly inflicted disembowelling moves. The Romans really knew how to enjoy themselves.
Reality Television with its cruelty and ritual humiliation is just a high tech version of Roman circuses. The sight of Katy Price having liquid shit poured over her, drinking lizard smoothies, eating worms, beetles, eyeballs and a Kangaroos dick appeals to exactly the base instincts as a disembowelling or the entertainment spectacle where they tied a criminals right hand and foot to one chariot and left hand and foot to another, hitched up a team of stallions to each and then banged the horses bollocks between two bricks so that the crim was torn in half as the horses set off at full gallop. Hasnt Richard Hammond already done something like that on Top Gear though?
How much lower can the lowest common denominator , you might well ask
A lot lower, trust us.