I am outraged. This isn’t that unusual. I spend more time in the sweaty throes of outrage than I do in a contented life. I’m not outraged because of cannibalism in North Korea while Kim Jong-Un is dining on Swedish dogmeatballs and Uncle Ben’s rice pots. I’m not even outraged about a lot of the twisted things going on in the country, like cuts to important public services for example. No, I’m outraged because this country that we’re told is great and pleasant lurches from one fictitious outrage to the next. When we’re not losing our loaves about horsemeat galloping into our beef burgers and causing a meltdown in Burger King, then we’re furious because a badly dressed effeminate man has been cheating on Big Brother.
We, as a nation reaching from lazy scroungers hated by the Telegraph to the dizzyingly rich hated by the Guardian, are led by the tongue to one more scandal and then forced to wag it about how it ‘wasn’t like that in my day’ or ‘it’s basically a tax on the poor’ or whatever total bollocks is going on. If outrages were a vagina, it would be a very happy vagina indeed because we absolutely love complaining about things. It isn’t even a case of ‘oh, its a terribly British thing to complain what what tally ho where’s the foxes’ anymore because this isn’t just being stoically silent about a subject until you go home and take it out on a loaf of bread, or your children, people are reveling in how sick and twisted our society has become. You can sit there, in your comfortable chair and your iPad and think that I’m wrong, but let me ask you this. Did you gossip about the massive Jimmy Savile scandal to anyone?
We love a good gossip about things. There’s probably a proper psychological term to describe it, but no ones really interested in that because something else has happened that we need to talk about.
Over the past few weeks, a common theme has been evolving our TV habits. Perhaps enhanced by the constant comment across social media streams like Twitter and Facebook, but some people are really starting to lose their shit about programmes that are featuring violence or bad language, despite them being shown after the watershed.
If you’ve been watching Channel 4’s new conspiracy thriller ‘Utopia’ you’ll have seen someone tortured and having an eye scooped out, a mother killed in front of her daughter, and a school shooting, all in the space of around 135 minutes. What else you will have seen is a brilliantly crafted conspiracy thriller centred around a prophetical comic book. With each episode, more and more layers get added to the story, as the characters start to get whittled down. And there’s something about an influenza pandemic in there as well for good measure.
The violence is inherent to the story, and although the school shooting is shown offscreen, you can understand entirely what is going and feel the same way you would feel about if you would see it in explicit detail. As Arby (Neil Gaskell) travels the country looking for Jessica Hyde and the poorly drawn manuscript, and his list of violent exploits start to get more and more extreme, his slightly simple expression becomes more and more chilling. With each milestone of destruction he becomes more and more dangerous. Just like Lisbeth Salander’s rape in ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ it’s a just editorial decision. Regardless of what Mumsnet can say.
As long as you’re having the right emotional response to the events you’re shown; it’s usually revulsion incidentally, what does it matter what’s shown on TV?
Because idiots believe that watching violence on screen, or in video games for that matter, can prompt you to recreate such violent scenes. Which is beyond ridiculous.
I recently saw the episode of The Tweenies where a Jimmy Savile inspired character was shown when I was watching my niece. It didn’t cause me to immediately begin a career of sexually abusing vulnerable children and blackmailing my way through higher society. It made me feel a bit sad that so many people had been abused and nothing was done. Perhaps it was clearly an oversight on behalf of the BBC to leave this episode go to air, or maybe they felt no one was going to be bothered about such a miniscule thing. Regardless, the BBC released a grovelling apology about a programme they had stopped making almost ten years. Who they were apologising to, no one is entirely sure because people on Twitter and Facebook generally found the whole thing amusing and slightly ridiculous. No one was particularly outraged and the incident only helped to remind us that we were all taken in by Savile’s grooming of the nation. It’s this overexaggeration to every slight thing that makes British people so annoying. No one goes nuts about Phil Spector killing Lana Clarkson, even though we should be equally appalled by that. No one loses their shit about professional footballers essentially being overgrown toddlers, burning around in fast cars and even faster women and doing what they want, regardless of the law or morals.
This is because, although it might be massive news about Savile (which it undoubtedly is), selling sordid stories about fictitious sexual romps and practices he might or might not have done sells papers.
Which is where the crux of the manufactured outrage stems from: someone else’s gain.
Someone always benefits from these fictitious scandals. The creators of Utopia and Channel 4 benefit massively from people getting their nasties in a twist about the violence because more people watch it. And the websites that publish the story about the Twisted Tweenies benefit because they’ll get more traffic headed their way. And although it may be dressed up as being beneficial to the public, and in ‘the public’s interest’ it isn’t at all really. How would the public knowing that one of the characters on the Tweenies was dressed up as Jimmy Savile make their lives better?
For example, just a few days ago there was a manufactured outrage because Twitter was hacked and around 250,000 passwords were stolen. Those affected by the breach were emailed and were prompted to change their passwords with immediate effect. Problem solved, right?
‘HAVE YOU BEEN HACKED ON TWITTER? GLOBAL ALERT AS MORE THAN A QUARTER OF A MILLION PEOPLE HAVE THEIR PERSONAL DATA STOLEN BY HACKERS IN CYBER ATTACK,’ read MailOnline.
All very Watchdog and overly dramatic I’m sure you’ll agree, but what it doesn’t tell you in the headline is that the problem was solved within hours, and that because Twitter doesn’t really store much really, really personal information (like bank details, or girth) it doesn’t really make much of a difference. It’s just another example of people getting their norks in a vice about nothing.
Let’s all just chill out a little bit and stop being so angry about everything. Eventually it’s going to get to the stage where Susanna Reid stubs her toe on her authentically made wooden bed (that is totally not from Ikea) and The Sun calls for bans on all sharp furniture. Which is ridiculous. How else is Mother Nature going to cull children that are too stupid to live?
If you feel a rising anger about migrant workers coming and paying no taxes but still getting access to the NHS, or how all the parks are getting turned into Krispy Kremes and Cash Converters, pop along to your nearest Sainsburys or Asda (disregarding that they’re popping up more frequently than unwanted dots of blood on a Victorian man’s handkerchief) and bake a cake or a casserole. Unless you are ludicrously connected to the movers and shakers there’s nothing that you can do about migrant workers, and to be honest, you shouldn’t be doing about that anyway. Who do you think you are? France’s premier dick-hole appreciator Nicholas Sarkozy?
Let’s all just calm down. Your making yourself look like a right gimp.