I happened across an old episode of ‘cult’ comedy Nathan Barley and, apart from noticing how young Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Richard Ayoade and the rest all look, it was still a really enjoyable and fun half hour that had aged pretty well (seriously, if you’ve never seen it then check it out). However, as the end credits rolled up and I was still chuckling about Dan Ashcroft’s rise of the idiots article that was the main focus of the episode, a sudden, gripping, fearful realisation hit me. The idiots won. Sure, this sitcom was only written and aired in 2005 by the deposed Dukes of black mirth, Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris, so it was always going to be fairly relevant today but it’s scary how on the money these guys were.
Brooker and Morris riled against the increase in image obsessed screen junkies who would
only go to parties to mock them and had lost all sight of what genuine fun or pleasure actually constituted. We now live in an age dominated by these very hipsters and celebrity platforms on every corner churning out the next poor victim who has signed away any dignity and self-respect in the fruitless pursuit of fame for fame’s sake. The Dan Ashcroft character is constantly mocked for actually wanting to write something valuable or engaging (like bullies swarming around a ‘swot’ at school) and now anything longer than a tweet is hard for the majority to digest without reaching for their plain glass geek-chic spectacles. In Nathan Barley we see East London ‘creatives’ riding around on children’s bicycles while only days ago I saw a full grown man gliding pompously through the city centre on a non-Doc Brown endorsed hover board – seemingly unaware that he was being easily overtaken by Old Aged Pedestrians.
Now, at least it seems as though Cowell’s TV reign is coming to an end although not in the Game Of Thrones-esque blood bath I’d been praying for. So we might hope for a world where perhaps music can regain some ground from the idiots and start to matter again, right? Wrong. While everyone was sat in watching the X-Factor, the music venues whistled with eerie silence and one by one they’ve been sold off and turned in to swanky flats, endless coffee shops and clothes shops that sell the uniforms we’re told will increase our chances of getting in the local paper as ‘best dressed shopper of the week’ because this apparently counts as news in 2016. New music, then, will come from the bedrooms in the suburbs straight to our ears via the interweb and that’s not a bad thing, fundamentally. However, when you take away the need to gig to earn money to record and rehearse and hone your craft what you get is an endless, unrelenting tide of music which it is nigh on impossible to filter through to find the good stuff hidden among the salty, contaminated tidal sludge. There is no filter and whilst that opens the airwaves up to more musicians – something of which I am a big fan – what seems to happen is that the masses think it’s funny to popularise the trite, dire ‘artists’ that clog up radio stations and TV like it’s some sort of ironic joke. I mean, seriously, does anyone really rate Olly Murs and is nobody else sick to the pit of Satan’s stomach of Adele moaning on about one break up over the course of three albums? THREE ALBUMS? Even Radiohead picked different things to moan about.
But, and this is where I start to get really worried, the idiots have seemingly started
controlling the political powers as well. Sure, we always knew that most politicians are out of touch, overpaid and lacking in any real humanity – a joke in itself – but now the voting masses have started taking the piss. In March 2016, we stand on the verge of the very real possibility that two of the greatest political and financial powers in the world, the UK and USA, will be controlled by men named Johnson and Trump. We could witness meetings where one is sat thinking “In my country, your name means fart” while his counterpart fights the urge to chuckle right back thinking “Every guy I know uses your name to refer to their junk”. So that’s the western world taken in to a new era by two guys who (and I really hope this isn’t the case) are voted in because their names can give us years of guff and nob jokes to play with – surely nobody is voting for these people because of their policies or beliefs? It opens up the very real possibility that there are others out there already with hidden meanings in their name – does Mugabe mean pubic wig in Japanese? Is Merkel a piece of Swedish slang for when women tuck their skirt in to their knickers and walk around in public without noticing?
The scariest thing of all is I have absolutely no idea how to stem the tide of idiots. How far can this go? Is the next Christmas number one just going to be some kid from Surbiton singing a monotone version of ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ in to his I phone in a ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ megalolz joke on the music industry (or what’s left of it)? Is the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture going to go to a factual retelling of the 2016 Oscar race controversy, ironically still not featuring any black actors apart from Chris Rock as himself? Will local newspapers give over multiple pages to photos of pissed up idiots hanging out of Primark dresses in tacky bars and pass this off as news? Oh wait, that already happens. Will Schwarzenegger be elected to some military role in the next government and accidently wage nuclear war on Russia because the steroids have warped his brain so much that he can’t remember he’s not in a film? I don’t have the answers, I wish I did but I don’t. All I can ask, implore, beg of you is this: Don’t be an idiot. Read beyond the headlines, make up your own mind and think about the consequences of your actions from time to time. That said, cat videos are still bloody funny so let’s not get too serious here, eh?