From time to time within a given milieu, one person or phenomenon has the ability to show up a culture for its vacuity, mendacity and poverty, and it would harder at this moment in time to find anyone who fits that description – at least within the United Kingdom – than Alessio Rastani. Since being justly catapulted to stardom as a result of his now world-famous 26th September 2011 interview on the BBC News Channel, Rastani’s analysis on what is transforming from a global financial crisis to a global financial meltdown has been sought by – amongst others – CNN, RTÉ and Al Jazeera English. However, the reception given to him in the UK media has been generally hostile, with ITV in particular guilty of an asinine attempted character assassination when a little rational analysis was called for.
Yet even the mindless abuse heaped upon Rastani on ITV1′s Adrian Chiles-hosted That Sunday Night Show is not, it seems, enough: presumably as part of its ‘seasonal’ programming, BBC Three is featuring the Italo-Iranian as part of a 90 minute tabloid-style special ominously entitled Most Annoying People, which purports to list the 50 people who have ‘vexed’ the Great British Public during this Year of Our Lord 2011. Even as an exercise in cheap, filler television it is a waste of space – the total capitulation to some of the baser manifestations of celebrity is manifested here on a scale that might even make some of the smaller digital channels dotting the UK’s broadcasting landscape retch – but the inclusion of Rastani as the forty-fifth most annoying person of 2011 is tasteless, and worrying, in the extreme.
In the programme, the director of Santoro Projects Limited is painted – not again! – as an ‘”evil” “banker”‘ who (we are never told how) is somehow worthy of pointing a finger at simply because he told presenter Martine Croxall that the eurozone crisis was something to which there may be no conventional solution, and that the New York-based investment bank Goldman Sachs enjoys vastly disproportionate influence. Yet the parade of nonentities lined up to poke fun at Rastani could come up with nothing more substantive than a comment on the coral pink tie that the person who is now surely the planet’s most famous independent trader was sporting that morning.
All too predictably, Rastani’s most salient point – that the general public should get prepared, and protect whatever assets they have from an impending financial tsunami – was not even noted. And so viewers in the UK – in between cheerfully scuffling over designer handbags and booking next summer’s holidays – are liberated to get annoyed at one of the select few commentators who has repeatedly warned them that their economy is on the precipice; those that actually engendered this crisis, of course, are spared our disapproval.