There are a plethora of answers to the question: What was saved by the 25 January revolution? After many debates concerning the issue, one things is for certain: talk shows make the list. Before the events that took place that cool January day in 2011, talk shows had gradually withered away with their glamour. Then came the 25 January revolution, offering life where there was none, giving talk shows a second chance at tantalising the masses. Though at times out of boredom and at others out of sheer disgust, viewers began to take their remotes and traverse the lifelines of television, switching between one absurd programme to another.
Following the political upsurge in the wake of the 25 January revolution, talk shows rose to their former glory by using this new found liberty to discuss the political matters at hand in the most contemptuous ways possible. The satellite channels never learned the lesson that this political momentum was only to be temporary. What I am specifically calling out are the talk show hosts I like to call “political chit-chats”. Once again, viewers are extremely fed up from the monotony spewed by the hosts alongside the atmosphere of provocation in which they exist in. Throughout the golden era of talk shows, most notably considered in the aftermath of the 25 January revolution, fatal mistakes (or media disasters, as some have noted) were made that will continue to affect us for a very, very long time.
More so recently, the talk show host has vehemently transformed into a strategic planner, philosophical analyst, shrink and even political leader, forgetting that their main role was to stand as a mediator between the audience and the truth. In fact, they are nowhere near qualified to develop philosophical theories nor is it their job to propose political strategies or even to come up with a plan for war. On the other hand, it is not our job to make idols out of them. Talk show hosts, or to be exact, these “political chit-chats”, seem to conceive of their programmes as a means to pick fights and aggressively provoke their guests in order to create a spectacle of them. For the talk show hosts, it means more revenues from commercials because of increased viewership.
In some ways, the success of the programme is measured by what kind of reaction they can rouse from their guests, be it offensive words or rude phrases, along with how deafeningly loud the host can be at responding. For the talk show hosts, it is much preferable that guests punch or kick each other in order to create a scandal, and subsequently make the show a big hit. Unfortunately, talk shows decided to cross over into politics and, instead, disregard the critical issues facing Egyptian society in a post-revolution context.
In this sense, talk shows don’t offer wholesome entertainment to a society that has all but practically stopped laughing. Hopeless in their endeavours to find a refined form of entertainment, viewers have begun to turn a cold shoulder to these “political chit-chats” and have moved on to even more trivial programmes, ones which trade harsher insults and vulgarity without limit.
Khaled Montasser is a dermatologist and TV presenter.