Sunday, 27 November 2011

'The new boring is everywhere'

This week an article in the Guardian seemed to provoke a lot of response especially across Twitter and Facebook where people seemed to be positively cheering at the proclamation that the ‘new boring is everywhere’. The piece, ‘The new boring is everywhere’, argued that   television has become bland and ‘boring’ - even the nation’s beloved Kirstie….and do you know what?  I have to say that I found myself agreeing …and I say this as an avid ‘maker’

Sadly Kirstie’s Handmade Britain exposes the worst about ‘crafting’ . I don’t call myself  ‘crafter’ for the very reasons that this article highlights, because it has ‘beige’ connotations and implies that people who make things are somehow boring and a bit a ‘worthy’, the very images we need to be moving away from. 

One of my main issues with Kirstie’s Handmade Britain is her demonic competitiveness that every week seems to get worse sucking the very joy out of the events.  Since when did making things have to be about winning? Why can’t we just enjoy ourselves?

In one episode she sneers at the ‘rules and regulations’ surrounding a flower show (careful Kirstie these are the very hands that feed you). Kirstie, if you hate the regulations so much then don’t enter!  And while we’re on the subject, if you are entering how about creating a level playing field?  Since when was a fat budget, with access to experts who not only train you but design for you as well, a full crew in support, access to all the the best tools... and a ‘reputation’, represent a level playing field?

These competitors live for their annual moments. How must they feel to have Kirstie and her entourage swan in and win... even with a burnt cake? (yes the judges did notice and comment on it and yet the still let it win).  

How galling for the locals whose competition was hi-jacked by a C4 programme.  And this faux-surprised, ‘wow, even a complete beginner like me can win’ demeans all their hard efforts and talent. Kirstie you have not won because you are a brilliant ‘crafter’, but because you are a Channel 4 programme. By all means enter the competition, but have fun and have the decency not to ‘enter’ the judging.  Let them comment and give you feed back by all means, but why do you have to win!

But to return to my original point - perhaps what’s worst is that this programme shows up the very worst of ‘beige’ crafting and doesn’t even start to scratch the surface of the wealth of creative talent that is out there pushing the boundaries and making ‘making things’ fun.

Yes, I said ‘Fun’. That’s what it should be.  Making things is good for us and should be about enjoyment... not getting stressed  gunning for first prizes and to hell with the others.  Don’t get me wrong  I think it’s great that we’re getting these skills onto the prime time agenda, but at what expense? What are the messages we’re sending out?   This programme is simply compounding this view that the new boring is everywhere!  Kirstie claims that the WI are reinventing themselves, but then goes on to just simply fulfil and embed the existing stereotype. So let’s get rid of beige TV and bring some colour into our lives!

PS  Kirstie If you really want competition, then bring it on. MIAMI would be happy to step up to the plate… but please let’s do it with laughter and a level playing field!


  1. Agree with every word, well said! It's such a shame that this series the focus seems to be on Kirstie herself, and not the craft so much, and as you say, introducing the element of competition has taken all the fun out of it. I really feel for the other competitors when they are local and have been competing for years to have to stand there and watch Kirtie waltz in with all her expert help and tuition, and swipe the prize from under their noses. I don't think I would be too impressed! I really hope the next series gets back to just showing us the crafts, and leaves the shows and the competitions alone.

  2. Totally agree! My toes curled when I saw Kirstie doing her thing - it all feels a bit band-wagon-y and rather misses the point of making for the sheer joy of it.

  3. I agree with you too, burnt cake and not very good scones said the judges initially...

    I have entered various classes over the years and you really do have to abide by the rules, however silly they seem. People spend years gaining the expertise needed to win and yes, you sometimes have beginners luck, but skill and time are a key ingredient.
    I thought she missed the point when her slightly alternative entries got nowhere,it wasn't because they were different, it was because they were not good enough!

  4. Yep, totally agree. The suggestion that, so long as you have money and contacts you can do better than those who have been honing their skills for years... of course it is ridiculous. She cheapens every craft and every contest she takes part in. She makes crafting seem soulless and futile.

    Having said that, I don't know why any of this comes as a huge surprise. Dumpster-diving aside, her crafting has always been on the spend-lots-of-money side of moneysaving and her 'style' has always been on the just-like-everybody-else side of individual. All of Kirstie's crafting shows have been one long product placement: for Kirstie's Books, Kirstie's Holiday Rentals, and Kirstie The Brand. Come Christmas so many of the crafters she has sold out will have thrown money at her in order to buy her latest book.

  5. I have to agree. I think it was the first or second episode that baffled me. She was making a cushion, hand embroidered. It won because her effort was regulation-perfect, not because it contained a hint of beauty or artistry. By contrast, a stunning felted wool creation did not even place. I thought that the entries were anonymous but now question that. Of course the whole competition thing is an added stressor. Making things is as much about the process as about the result. Kirsty's hand-wringing obsession with winning is hugely irritating and beside the point.

  6. 'Yes, I said ‘Fun’. That’s what it should be. Making things is good for us and should be about enjoyment... not getting stressed gunning for first prizes and to hell with the others.'


    Sadly, from Dragon's Den to the Apprentice to all else pumped out, that is not what the Mediaratti seem to feel will best serve their ratings.

  7. I enjoyed the programme. The problem lies with the shallowness of the judges. The cushion winning "Best in Show" was screamingly bad. It wasn't good in any way, and was leagues behind other entries in style, execution and finish. I don't think the programme should be blamed for this, for it was the judges decision. Obviously the chance for a bit of TV coverage overswayed all sense of what is good and right when judging. Totally spoilt it for me, and I haven't watched the programme since. Shame.

  8. Having been doing a lot of fairs recently, if I had a pound for every person that asked me if I had seen her programme and did I make stuff like her, arghhhhhh!

    Though I guess her books and M&S products are raking it in for her!

  9. I LOATHE these programmes and don't watch them as i find them infuriating. I do not like the fact that Kirstie, while "supporting" handmade has a mass-produced range of products in M&S. This type of program feeds the view that handmade = homemade tat and anyone can do it. I dislike the word "crafter" for that reason too.