I have a terrible headache. It’s just all too much. When it seems the cautionary tales of sci-fi drama “Black Mirror”, partially the brainchild of our favourite tousle-haired telecritic and curmudgeon Charlie Brooker, have been coming to life, it’s time to consider the entire meaning of comment. I personally don’t see the need to satirize or ridicule things which are self-evidently satirical or ridiculous, and yet I have to write about something.
I’m thinking particularly of the most recent episode, where “Waldo”, the blue idiot bear, commandeers the attention of the politically disenfranchised, resulting in a near future new order of iconoclasm. Plastered on every product, billboard and, obviously, fighter-jet, are the obnoxious eyes and grin of this irritating creature, supposedly binding the world together for all its freshness and anti-establishment appeal or whatever.
“Waldo”, merely an animated on-screen character, is propelled to fame when its dreary controller, a depressed comedian of sideways career trajectory, has a minor breakdown, unleashing a populist tirade against a politician during a televised debate for a by-election. The ursine cartoon ultimately places second in the vote-count, having been entered to raise the exposure of its comedy news show carrier, and slightly beyond believability, to “shake things up”. Onwards and upwards it goes.
Amongst other things the episode hints at the fear of, and potential for, protest voting and its dubious outcomes. Or that’s what I wanted it to hint at, as things get a little muddled towards the end, but in light of what has been occurring abroad and now at home, it was those thoughts I found myself with after. This isn’t to say that in real life the puerile actions of laughable clowns are threatening the fabric of well-established democracies… oh.
Actually, this is to say that in real life the puerile actions of laughable clowns are threatening the fabric of well-established democracies. Memory raps upon the doors of forward thought and usher in the names of Rand Paul, Beppe Grillo and Nigel Farage. Or if you might be unfamiliar, the Waldo’s of the USA, Italy and the UK respectively. These are the men who are the products of their nation’s dissatisfaction with the political mainstream.
I have no secret anticipation of seeing Farage’s goofy, beaming face in place of the red, white and blue circles of the RAF, quite the horror that would be, yet still I fear the kind of outcomes that protest voting and popularism can birth. Government, despite the relentless passages of ineptitude and embarrassment that its denizens always play out in the public eye, is serious business and not even by half do all its applicants possess the necessary qualities.
Essentially, even when we take politics really very seriously indeed, we get the usual blend of respectable competence right through to borderline criminal idiocy. Speaking mainly with a concern for the state of Europe, it being that Rand Paul, his ilk and their intellectually inverted principles have already rasped onto the body of American governance, the last thing needed here is likewise. Right now we need the boring, the grey, the tired. The sane.
We need the stability of the old institutions of Labour and the Tories and the formidable collective political experience of Westminster that goes back well beyond the tenure of any currently sitting minister. Sir Peter Tapsell aside. And Italy needs the Mario Monti’s, or at least the Pier Bersani’s. It boggles the mind to an extent that words cannot do justice that Silvio Berlusconi is ever again allowed within a thousand leagues of a government building.
There’s really nothing to say about Beppe Grillo. He can’t possibly run a country, it’s simply not a serious proposition. Much the same I feel as Nigel Farage and his band of merry Europhobes. While not an actual comedian, and indeed ostensibly a true politician, he is for that still only as serious Grillo. Riding the opportunistic highs of occasional political strife, they haven’t the complete package in either policy or competence to enact policy.
Those who came out in support of UKIP at the recent Eastleigh by-elections should be very aware of this. While I’m quite sure this bump for the right-wing party is entirely short-lived, there’s always the lingering fear of unexpected vitality and longevity. To assuage the temptation of anyone thinking about continuing their support, I would point them in the direction of the current traumas of the United States Congress.
There Rand Paul, Tea Party Congressman, is displaying for all the wisdom and reason of fringe political figures. Being integral to the Republican mechanism that has for over four years now sought to ruin the efficacy of government and the success of Obama’s presidency, he is currently holding up the confirmation hearings of CIA director nominee John Brennan, for probably as little cause as he was Obama’s choice. On paper Brennan is a perfect conservative candidate.
The problems caused by successful protest voting clearly manifest themselves in a unique way in the USA, in a manner which corresponds to their particular set of challenges. Just believe that the problems we face in the UK will only become magnified should we let (more) unworthy individuals into government. That message of course also goes out to government itself, in the hopes they might straighten up and earn some of those votes back!