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Saturday, December 02, 2006
House is an elitist, authoritarian fantasy

Finished the first season of House.
The popularity of House is a bit odd.
I have to assume that the political incorrectness of House is the main attraction.

But the show is like 5 minutes of good quips from House, and 35 minutes of incomprehensible medicobabble. It may be accurate jabber, or inaccurate, but I'm not a doctor, so WTF do I care?

It is very much a medical Law & Order / CSI, with the standard three acts:

1. bad thing happens
2. solution attempted, mistakes are made - a lot about legal, forensic or medical details
3. successful solution

Another mysterious aspect of House is the the solution is ALWAYS successful. 100% of the time. At least on LO and CSI they fail sometimes. Also, an untrained person can sort of follow the legal, forensic, and criminal stuff in LO and CSI. For House, you'd have to have years of medical training to follow what they're talking about.

Now, I understand the appeal of elitism.
There are lots of times I would like to say, "Do you have a degree in computer science? No? Then shut up." But I rarely get to do so.

House is spectacular in its elitism, the return of Doctor as God.
Ordinary people are lying idiots, with particular scorn set aside for people who get their knowledge from the Internet.

This an interesting reaction to an age that is almost entirely anti-intellectual and anti-elitist. In the real world, we have the tedium of "everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether they know what they're talking about or not". In Houseworld, no one is entitled to their opinion unless they have years of training (and even then, only House gets the final word).

Which brings us to our next theme: authoritarianism. House routinely breaks the law AND defies the wishes of his patients, if he doesn't manage to manipulate them into what he wants them to do.

So this is a pretty odd combination. A weak format that follows the same arc every week: mystery illness, 35 minutes of medicobabble, 100% cure at the end. An elitist authoritarian (who is incidentally a drug addict) as the anti-hero.

Now, I can understand the appeal of this show to the actual elite, who are well tired of the amateurworld we live in. But what about the other 99% of people watching the show? Do they think they're part of the elite? Do they dream of capricious dictatorship? I don't get it.

I guess everyone watching it thinks THEY are House, that everything would go right if they were just allowed to do whatever they thought was right, while going around telling everyone to fvck off? Everyone wants to BE the elitist authoritarian?

I did like the last two episodes, particularly the classroom one.
But I think that's it for me and House.