There seems to be an astonishing craze that has swept the UK, where people, so desperate to make their name in the world, whore themselves to the pimp-Gods of reality TV. We have had them in all their guises; singing and prancing their way into Simon Cowell’s wallet, eating kangaroo nadgers on deserted islands (save for a fully stocked camera crew and production team) and we’ve had them fighting and pouting around every council estate from Bognor to Bangor. Well, those not able to produce some discernible “talent” or quirky “personality trait” have but one option left; to debase themselves in the most carnal way and show us their manky bits.
I’m not just talking about the naughty pink bits, although we do get our fair share of those, I’m talking about all the wibbly wobbly wonky parts you normally reserve for the privacy of your own mirror as you weep gently into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s (and litre of gin) and pray it does/doesn’t fall off. You can’t so much as turn on a television set without coming eyeball to eyeball with something that looks like it should be an eyeball, but which apparently decided to grow out of someone’s elbow. It’s getting to the point where I only handle my television remote control with surgical gloves and a pair of tongs.
For reasons I cannot fathom, people across this once great land are bearing their sexual indiscretions and physical malformations on a national television network, for all to mock and judge. These shows allegedly aim at educating and enlightening the general populace as to the biological wonder that our spiritual being hitches a ride in each day, but I’m not fooled. Take these doctor’s surgery exposé shows and sexual health clinic behind-the-scenes documentaries back a few centuries and what have you got? Your common or garden variety freak show.
The audience isn’t there to learn, we’re there to gawp and to throw rotten tomatoes in the modernist form of tweets. The freaks aren’t there because they want to enable the world to love their incontinence and to embrace their putrefying toenails, they’re there for the notoriety of being the 21st century Elephant Testicle Man. I would ask “do they have no shame?!” but we can clearly see that they don’t even have it tucked away up there in amongst their giblets. [Slides dinner plate away, vows never to eat sweetcorn again].
As Andy Warhol famously said, “everyone will get their rotting growler out on television for 5 minutes” and so it has come to pass, with the aid of Embarrassing Bodies, One Born Every Minute, The Sex Clinic and the myriad other ‘Bodies-Gone-Wrong-Through-Plastic-Surgery-Or-Casual-Sex-Or-Cake’ shows which grace our evening entertainment schedules. For those who have never encountered such a show, allow me to give you a brief synopsis:
SCENE: Brightly lit doctor’s surgery with overly made-up perma-grinning medical professional and/or buxom, hatchet-faced nurse. Patient enters.
Perma-grin: “So, what appears to be the problem?”
Patient: “I’m about to give birth/I had unprotected sex with 5 guys named Mo/I have a rancid wobbly thing that I hope will/will not fall off. I’m really embarrassed.”
Perma-grin: “Wow, that sounds really embarrassing. Get your trousers off and we’ll get a camera crew in for a close up.”
[Cue close up of child ripping its way out of human/weeping watering hole/rancid wobbly thing]
Perma-grin: “Yep, that’s utterly repulsive. How embarrassing, thanks for letting millions of people have a look at your really embarrassing problem. Pop your trousers back on, stop smoking, lose some weight and let’s get you to a specialist.”
[Cue terrifying statistics about how this is going to happen to you, the viewer, the next time you sneeze]
Every time, without fail.
The patient could have gone in with a toothache but the audience is still treated to an extreme close-up of the inside of a gangrenous ganglion before being topped off with the sight of a complete set of mangled incisors getting mercilessly ripped from a skull. Has the country got such a shortage of medical professionals that the only way people can seek suitable treatment for their trench foot and knob-rot is to parade their privates on prime time?! I think not.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much a voyeur of the modern day freak show as the next person with a disinfected TV remote and a Twitter account. I love nothing better than grimacing and guffawing at the vile specimens of human frailty that wobble across the screen, but this has one quite horrifying draw back. These bearers of biological abnormality aren’t just giving me ammunition for vulgar jokes, they aren’t just showing themselves up as fame hungry petri dishes, they aren’t just showing me how weak and vulnerable their own carcasses are, they’re showing me what could, but for the grace of genetics and a balanced diet, befall me.
Each warty nose, each sagging buttock, every oozing gash and prolapsed cavity, strikes fear into the very heart of me. These people are just human lumps of flesh, same as I, and yet here they are (without their trousers on) showing just how cruel the human body can be, just how warped a sense of humour nature has and just how easily someone can go from beauty queen to this Halloween’s must-have costume idea in the blink of a dribbly eye. Bodies are awful things that conspire against us and betray us at every turn, and this terrifies me because I too am trapped in one!
It is after much careful consideration and countless viewings of these shows that I have come to the following conclusion: I no longer want skin, I no longer want legs, I no longer want fingers, I no longer want genitalia (unless stapled shut), I no longer want teeth, I no longer want buttocks or nostrils. Basically, pending science catching up with fiction, I’m going to live out my days as a brain in a jar.