Friday, January 16, 2009

January 2007 Column

So, here's the next column. I don't know if you can call it an improvement - I was still very much casting about for some sort of direction. It has the air of someone who wants to write something Important, but can't quite do it without coming off as extremely pretentious, so dives for the laughs, or tries to. If I were marking this for an exam I would be handing out a C, I suppose.

January 2007

A lot of things are going to happen this year, so I’ll be brief. In 2007, everyone is going to age uncontrollably and buy more clothes. Shaving will be enormously popular among both sexes, narrowly beaten by eating, while breathing will remain popular among a majority of those who categorise themselves as alive. Now that you know what’s going to happen, I suggest you glue this to your bathroom mirror so you can check it every day as you brush your teeth, face or arms. Thus equipped, you will be prepared for all the future may hurl at you.

The fascination with creating narratives for our future is very seductive. What is of course, truly amazing, is that there are people out there (paid great mountains of cash) whose job is solely to think about whether beards or moustaches are going to be in this April, or if Angelina Jolie walking by a truck is a tacit acknowledgement by the star that she is in fact about to become a delivery driver, shuttling cargo containers full of B-list celebrities to war zones and movie premieres, while Brad stays at home playing Mr. Mom and styling his hair. It goes without saying that these people are journalists and as such have the very highest ethical, and indeed, sartorial standards to uphold. Anyone who knows me will agree.

Obviously, this is a great job, as you never have to think about what’s happening now, since we’re all more interested in what’s going to appear next week. I blame reality television (doesn’t everyone?). In fact, I think it’s time I pitched my own concept: “I’m A Trendspotter, Please Stop Hitting Me’.

But poking fun at fashion journalists, while an entertaining pastime for all the family, is once more eclipsed by what’s actually on TV - Extinct, a new show where celebrities endorse one of eight endangered species. Presumably the winning animal is honoured with a crown sewn from the hides of the failed species. Someone high up in ITV saw Planet Earth and thought: ‘this groundbreaking footage of the few remaining wild areas of our planet is missing something. But what? I know! Anneka Rice!’ It’s after decisions like this that satirists get out the razor blades. When you give over responsibility for the survival of whole species to lifeforms whose main achievement in life is reading an autocue, you may as well start rubbing crystals, making cosmic orders and call it a night.

Being a rationalist is increasingly seen as a strange subculture, much like flying pigeons or watching Tubridy Tonight. Partly, it’s the terminology. If you’re religious you get to be absolute: I’m Catholic, he’s Jewish, that’s Madonna; but the rationalist has to make do with words like agnostic, libertarian, atheist, empiricist, all of which sound like they’ve been made from leftover sparkplugs in an auto parts factory in the Ukraine. Plus, the merchandising is awful. Nobody’s making Darwin action figures. Why not? And when you bang your thumb on a nail, it’s a rare person who cries out ‘Unspecified Monotheistic Entity, Existence of Which I Remain Unconvinced Yet Hopeful!’ And yet, dear reader, we continue, because we must. And if that means we have to work as trendspotters and star in shows called ‘Cult!’ where the official religion of Ireland is decided by a panel including Eddie Hobbs, Gay Byrne and Twink, well, that is the price of freedom.

Eoin Cunningham.

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Welcome to my blog. I'm a freelance writer/journalist/researcher/editor. I write about education and ideas I've had for the Irish Times. I also research, write and edit for writers, publications and websites. Here I put things that tend not to fit anywhere else. Enjoy.

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