The Delamination of the Elite | 2322

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport doesn’t know anything about culture, media or sport

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The Delamination of the Elite

Last week the UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Frazer, was interviewed by Jimmy McLoughlin on β€˜Jimmy’s Jobs of the Future’. Apparently it’s a popular business podcast. Anyways, as of the time of this recording the video only has 529 views, 2 of them are mine. If you are in the UK and work in a creative industry, you should watch it too. Preferably from between fingers or behind the sofa. For those of you who can’t bring themselves to suffer though it. 

Here’s Popbitch newsletter’s review of the interview:

Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport stepped on pretty much every possible landmine as a guest on Jimmy's Jobs Of The Future podcast today.

The government's head of the creative industries: hasn't used ChatGPT, hasn't experienced VR, struggled to name a single comedian, doesn't read books, doesn't have a favourite fashion designer, has only this week joined Instagram, hasn't ever worked in the creative industries (though tried to spin her career as a commercial law barrister as 'creative') and hasn't taken a magazine since Whizzer & Chips.

But good news for gamers, the minister holding the UK's entertainment industry in her hands does have a favourite game... 1972 Atari hit Pong.

Watching the interview play out is such a crazy experience I had to watch it twice. The fact that this person is in charge of our culture and media industry is insane. It does make me wonder what kind of a life she leads. 

Here’s the thing: creative industries are fast moving and dynamic. Fractallinier in detail and their speed of change. Even if you follow things closely you can still be surprised.

Given that Frazer hasn’t played a video game since pong. Perhaps she would like to know the two things I learnt this week that surprised me.

First due to poorly redacted documents submitted as part of the FTC Activation Microsoft antitrust hearings, it comes to light that during 2021 – 1 million Playstation owners played Call Of Duty… And Nothing Else. 6 million PlayStation owners also spent more than 70% of their gaming time just playing Call of Duty.

I made an episode (21-08) about the release of Call of Duty Black Ops. Wondering why some of the issues surrounding its release weren’t in the proper news. I also observed that the Call of Duty franchise has generated more revenue than the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the box office. Double that of the cumulative box office for Star Wars. 

Yet the Marvel franchise is way more visible in mainstream media than Call of Duty. I direct your to a similar sentiment expressed recently on 301 in Episode 23-18 with the release of the new Zelda game.

The same legal documents also provide us with another figure from Sony. The average Call of Duty player spends over 100 hours a year playing the game. 100 hours a year or, given the player numbers and averages, 68,493 years of collective playtime in one game in 2021.

The other surprising statistic I learnt this week was that hotly anticipated RPG Baldur’s Gate III, has more dialogue than three times the word count of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. AND has 174 hours of animated cinematic. Which is more than twice the length of every season of Game of Thrones combined.

Or to put it another way. There’s more cinematic in Baldur’s Gate than the entire Marvel cinematic universe including all the Disney+ TV shows put together. All made and created with a budget of less than a single Marvel movie. With an expected minimum of 100 hours of game play, all this can be yours for just 60 quid, or 60p an hour. What a bargain. 

Both of these stats surprised me, and I would hope, be a surprise Frazer too. But I’m not sure they would. Like Frazer, the mainstream media doesn’t care for videogames either. They seem adamant to maintain the delusion that they are marginal cultural objects. As a result, ignoring a massive force that is shaping our cultural grammars and media environment.

The fact that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport doesn’t know anything about culture, media or sport is symptomatic –  better – an illustration of a much wider sickness afflicting the UK. The elite in this country – defined by a set of shared interests that cut across class, status, and occupation – have undergone a total delamination from the rest of society and reality.

It’s obvious and not very controversial to say that rich people live in a bubble, but it’s the wrong metaphor. Delamination is better. The peeling away or detachment of layers from a whole. You just have to look at the UK’s elite during the Corbyn era, or Brexit to see this delamination in action. I said back in episode 23-09 that our politicians are haunting an empty idea of empire, but the problem is much wider. Rishi Sunak, our prime minister is worth 730 million pounds and is probably the UK’s most delamniated man. A vast swath of the media and political class (you know, the people who actually run the country) are totally unmoored from reality. Social society is crumbling and as a class they are floating off, sliding around, over and across the tumbling rubble. 

The biggest problem facing our society is that the elite aren’t even aware that they have no idea what they are talking about. Or what the hell is going on.


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