Recently, I read an article that Will Self wrote at the time of the airing of the satirical phenomenon, Brass Eye, in which he stated that Chris Morris is "a true television artist perhaps the only one currently at work." I took it as an excuse to take a look at the show for this week's art digest and Morris' previous absurdist news critique, The Day Today.

In a scene where war has been declared, the presenter boasts the coverage of war that the network will be providing, including the "On the front line and in-your-face" reporter and smart bombs with nose-mounted cameras. This depiction of media coverage of conflicts shows expectation of the audience to view it as a caricature, using absurd phrases such as, "... reporting from inside the fight... like some crazy trojan." The programme itself hardly sets out to ensure that its messages are taken seriously, especially as Morris and Iannucci are best known as writers and actors of comedy shows. It is apparent however, how critically they observe the functions of the media. When Iannucci appeared on Question Time he expressed his opinion on the status of Osama Bin Laden, explaining that he was “just a man”, but the western governments and the media built up an image of him as a monster and a mastermind, with which to spread fear and justify a war on terror.

A few years after The Day Today, Chris Morris made Brass Eye. It imitated investigative reports, and criticised the sensationalisation of news stories and celebrity culture. There was a segment of the programme that emphasised a notion of produced reality, by showing footage of celebrities, whom had been tricked into endorsing fake campaigns and discussing issues that had been invented by Morris impersonating an interviewer. At the time of Brass Eye's airing, Will Self wrote that celebrities had been exposed as people of no real substance:

So why did these people fall for such fakery?… Because they aren't real people any more they're hyperreal. They've made the Faustian pact of being that oxymoronic incarnation, 'television personalities'.

Self's criticism of the television personalities is that "they carry their 'made-up' persona in front of them". The fact that these people, usually appointed to appear on television screens for our entertainment, sometimes appear on the news feeding back what is meant to be serious information, shows the networks' attitudes of what will make the viewer pay attention. By fooling these people into relaying information that has no reality whatsoever, Chris Morris is making an attack on attempts to portray them as authoritative and existing for any reason other than visual entertainment. Furthermore it's a statement about television as a whole:

The other important point to be made about Morris's elision of 'real' and 'unreal' is that it's at the very core of his attack on television itself. What Morris realises is that television isn't a 'medium' in any meaningful sense at all. Rather it's a skein of different media imprisoned in a bogus proscenium. (Self)

This is an acknowledgement of television as theatre. It is organised with a value of melodrama, where it is more important that the viewer is entertained and impressed than informed with actual information, even if the programme that they are watching calls itself 'the news'. Ultimately, there is one scene from Brass Eye that sums up this 'proscenium' style TV screen. It is a scene where Morris makes a speech while sat in front of a wall of monitors, the camera pulls back to reveal that he is an image on another wall of monitors, with another Chris Morris sat in front of them, making the same speech. This takes place three times in quick succession, ending on Morris pulling comical grin. It is a quick layering of images on screens, all of the same man making the same statement; with our view of each one being pulled back from by the camera, we take the statement less at face value, and less seriously.

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