Britain’s Really Disgusting Blog

Posted: 21st September 2010 by Get No Happy in Angry Rants, Reviews

A little late granted, but I thought I’d share my thoughts on the recent program Britain’s Really Disgusting Drinks the second installment in Alex Riley’s attempt to be the British Michael Moore; by which I mean a smug, self-righteous and patronising arse.

Not that the show didn’t have it’s moments (more on them later) but clearly the commissioners of BBC2 & 3 don’t communicate, as the hysteria of this show contrasted sharply with the rather excellent series about E numbers on the former. That show rather soberly pointing out that a) E numbers are just code for chemicals and can be perfectly natural, and b) are there to ensure the food we eat is safe, cheap and long-lasting. Thus not deserving the torch and pitchfork treatment they so often encounter.

This view was clearly not shared by Mr Riley, who no doubt would be the first to the farming implements should the E monsters appear. Specifically in regard to wine, there was an awful luddite sneering of THERE’S “SCIENCE” IN OUR FOOD, ISN’T THAT DISGUSTING. EEEEEWWWWWW. Hilariously, in the centre of Riley’s masturbatory polemic was a perfectly reasonable explanation, provided (accidentally) by the equally pompous traditional wine maker he was interviewing: To paraphrase “Wine itself tends to vary, for mass market wine people want a consistency of tastes and supply”. The show also made a massive deal about how such chemicals and additives are used to make passable wine from even rotten or poor quality grapes, as apparently making effective use of resources and lowering wastage is something agriculture really needs to avoid.


For the final insult, they lock the stuff in vessels of MELTED SAND! 

Alex Riley, like his rotund mentor, also makes much use of what I suppose one could call gorilla interviews: turning up unannounced at a corporate HQ and demanding answers for the people. Like everyone else who pretends this counts as investigative journalism he seems genuinely surprised (and of course pleased, as it makes them look guilty no? Like they have something to hide?) that no one wants to talk. Can he really be that surprised a PR representative may not want to challenge a crusading member of the press, completely unprepared and unbriefed as to the issue causing such ire? It’s a cheap trick.

It’s a very cheap trick in fact. I worked briefly in a University admissions department and had I been confronted with a blustering journalist towing say a weeping A-Level student who failed to get a place, I too would have made for the security door. Lets not forget most of people entering any picketed buildings are office nobodies, the lubricant in the corporate machine, and thus know little and can influence less anyway. All such “interviews” demonstrate is people don’t like being chased into their place of business


While the store’s sourcing practices may indeed
contribute to global inequality, create exploitative trade agreements
and perpetuate the right-wing, capitalist and plutocratic hegemony… Do you want cash back?

Not that the show was all bad. I did love the feature on so called functional drinks; i.e. those that claim to be efficacious. Except of course most don’t claim as such; they just casually imply they may do something, and seeing the merry dance such products do with the various advertising authorities was great. But even this part, and the genuinely amusing attempt to write a legal-but-misleading label for a health drink, is spoiled somewhat by the attempt to storm Coke Cola HQ with a tray of drinks and a cheerleading squad.

Still, it reminded me nicely of all those faux-science beauty adverts, and especially my current favorite for a hair-care product based on the science of genes. I have no idea what this means, and so the best suggestion for what it actually refers to will win a t-shirt!


Also based on the science of genes? 

Another reasonable section covered fortified larger and fascinatingly highlighted the apparent contempt the makers of such drinks hold their own products in. Maybe with a little more, yaknow, journalism, this could have been expanded upon: Why indeed make a product you are ashamed of. I can’t help but feel though the program was being a little hypocritical by demonstrating the murky recesses of associative advertising one moment, and then filling said section on fortified larger solely with footage of alcoholics.

Like the previous Britain’s really disgusting food the show was occasionally insightful (see above), but it was so dressed up in mindless hyperbole and hysteria that any legitimate grievances and issues were lost amongst the mouth foaming and flag waving. Once you realise the show is little more than pointing at things and making gastric noises (also known as the Gillian Mckeith method of nutritional advice) nothing it says can be taken seriously.

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