Saturday, 17 December 2011

Dragons' Den

06:01:00 Posted by Ashley Lister , , , , 5 comments

by Ashley Lister

This week’s theme is dragons which allows me to say that I get very annoyed with the TV show Dragons’ Den.

Stay with me a moment here. This does relate to writing and poetry. But it’ll be a circuitous route getting there.

Dragons’ Den doesn’t just annoy me because it promotes an ethos of capitalist greed. Admittedly, I don’t like capitalism. The idea of cultivating a Thatcherite ideal of ‘avarice over altruism’ makes me nauseous.

But that’s not the reason why the show annoys me.

I admit that I don’t care for the interrogation style format, or the fact that so many members of the regular panel on the show seem to think that it’s acceptable to call people liars, stupid, foolish or deluded. This name-calling is indicative of a mentality that suggests each panellist considers themselves to be the Simon Cowell of entrepreneurship – a distressingly bleak mindset in and of itself.
But, again, that is not the real reason why the show annoys me.

Dragons’ Den annoys me because the narrator consistently describes the obscenely rich businessmen on the programme as ‘dragons.’

Honestly - they’re not.

They’re not dragons in a mythological sense, a figurative sense or a literal sense.
Dragons are mythological creatures. Dragons are notorious for being dangerous and brilliant and exciting and wonderful. The whole concept of the dragon is a metaphor for a darkly attractive force that is powerful, splendid and almost unconquerable.
Does that really sound like an appropriate description for a handful of narcissistic business owners who are motivated solely by the goal of personal profit?

I say ‘narcissistic’ because they’re all sitting in front of TV cameras, looking freshly groomed and brimming with expressions of smug self-satisfaction. They stroke their fingers over compensating piles of money and could not look more self-satisfied if they were smoking post-coital cigarettes.

And I say ‘business owners’ because the adjectival phrase ‘greedy twunts’ is potentially libellous.

I don’t have a problem with all of the title. The word DEN fits because of its other connotations. You can have a den of iniquity or a den of thieves or a dirty den. With those connotations I can see the word DEN being appropriate for all the regular ‘business owners’ who appear on the programme.

But the word ‘dragon’ just doesn’t seem to fit

As writers, each time we select a word, we have to be specific in our choice. We pick the word that’s most appropriate for the circumstances – the word that will convey our exact meaning to a reader or audience.

I’m about to start writing a story that contains a dragon and you can rest assured, the creature will be dangerous and brilliant and exciting and wonderful. The dragon will be a metaphor for a darkly attractive force that is powerful, splendid and almost unconquerable.

It won’t be some smug ‘business owner’ greedily protecting its own wealth.

That sort of dragon would just be annoying.


Ste said...

As Vicky (I think) said earlier in the week 'and we all know dragons lay eggs' wouldn't that be a sight? Intrigued as to what you're writing. As a fantasy geek I LOVE DRAGONS!

Hope you guys had a good night last night. Just woken up in Narnia (aka Malvern) and first thought was 'I wonder how it went'

Merry Saturnalia ;)

Ashley R Lister said...


We had a great night last night. You were missed. I hope you're having fun in Malvern.

And, on the subject of what I'm writing, I might send you a copy so you can have a read through and tell me what you think.


Lindsay said...

Dragons den is the X Factor for the aspiring middle class, that and bloody Masterchef. Same format, with a dollop of pretension and superiority to make it appeal to those who think food and moneymaking seperate them from the working class. I quite like Reggae Reggae sauce though.

Great post Ash.

Ashley R Lister said...

Reggae reggae sauce was ok until they brought out the reggae reggae soft drinks ( just sounds stomach-churning.

And you're right about Masterchef. That one really pisses me off. :-)


vicky ellis said...

Dragons - like fetid faberge eggs...

I think the Dragon's Den metaphor works Ash, but then I love bad metaphors. They're greedy, selfish and make me want to stab them with a shiny sword. Works for me :)