Is it wrong to work at a cinema or be a binman?

Is it wrong to work at a cinema or be a binman?

Is it wrong to work at a cinema or be a binman?

Is it wrong to work at a cinema or be a binman?

Picture the scene. It’s a TV talent show on one of the big channels. A talented young person’s fought through to the finals and is desperate to sing or perform. The producer doing the talking in the head interview finds out the person used to work at a cinema / McDonald’s / a bar…

We all know the format. The producer badgers the person to get the emotional reply to ‘how much would winning this mean to you?’. Then, in a nice juxtaposition, throws in a question of ‘how would it feel if you had to go back and work in the cinema?’.

Of course following the natural path of questions, the result is the obligatory aspiration-sapping 15 second sound bite of "I never want to go back to working in the cinema, I had to go there every night showing people to their seats, it was awful”,( with the “compared to being a pop star bit edited off the end”).

Every time this makes me want to throw my socks at the TV. For the sake of a bit of TV emotion, we risk denigrating all our young people who get out there, work hard, get a job, earn money for themselves, graft and move up the ladder. It has sacrificed all this for the seduction of impressionable teens into the dream of a statistically negligible chance for most, of the instant hit of fame.

With high youth unemployment, and barely a year on from the riots, in this year’s raft of talent shows (they’re all infected by this, it’s not peculiar to any particular channel) it’s time to be a little bit more careful.

Thankfully, it isn’t a completely one-way street. What prompted me to write this was a glorious note in the Sunday Times article ‘Henrique the binman dances his way to a starring role’ (note link via a paywall). For once it told a tale of how the dancer who played the young man who got the girl in the opening ceremony, had in January been a binman and rather than being glad to leave it behind, valued what it had given him…

He said he looked back on that phase of his life with pride.

I know I do what I have to do to support people around me,help them not to pay for things for me. Money is sometimes a problem because I’m always going to performances to expand my knowledge in theatre and dance."

This is how it should be. Yes, some people are fortunate enough to rise above the crowd and gain success, but respect is due to all those who get out of bed to do a hard day’s work. TV talent show producers, please remember this.