Are you sitting comfortably, children?
Then I’ll begin.
Once upon a time, in a laboratory sited on the periphery of a drab town, there toiled a jaded, rudderless, occasionally cynical, yet affable postdoc. A degree of satisfaction with his situation and circumstance was countered by the frustration borne of the reluctant realisation that that ‘eureka’ moment was unlikely to arrive, unless he happened upon it Columbus style. Some weeks seemed so busy, he would reach the weekend seemingly cut adrift from the world, with the previous Sunday’s catch-up newspaper still unfinished. Time was not what it used to be for him (in fact, fair to say, he sometimes didn’t know what day it was). But he got by, providing he could cut loose from time to time, plumb-lining an oscillating mood by, well, having a damn good laugh.
Then one day, something stirred in the dark-hearted forest, bringing him abruptly, blinkingly, incredulously up-to-date with the revelation that – people were not going to be allowed to laugh anymore! The British Broadcasting
Censor Corporation had conducted a survey of viewers apparently so corpulently dotty as to have misplaced their remote controls, and hence decreed that adults were no longer to be treated like, err, adults. Coupled with the banning of ‘strong’ language – even after the 9 pm ‘watershed’ – it was stipulated that comedy was not to be ‘unduly intimidatory, humiliating, intrusive, aggressive or derogatory’.
The postdoc despaired of a world without satire; without parody; without criticism. All (as opposed to some, which already existed to cater for those with a taste for bland) comedy rendered crap. Because, in this insipid existence, people were no longer allowed to laugh at each other. Even laughing at oneself became risky, lest someone of a pigeonholing mindset took umbrage. Never mind that ‘unduly intimidatory, humiliating, intrusive, aggressive or derogatory’ was seemingly acceptable before the watershed, which was okay because it was deemed to be about real people, ainnit?
The postdoc sat in a dark corner, imagining a life determined by the objections of a minority of vocal prissy types; a life in which humans were not allowed to take interest in pursuits that exposed things about their nature. He stared into space, considering the shiteness of ‘plumb-lining an oscillating mood’, strumming his wet lips with his forefinger. Like an infant.
Go to sleep, children; go to sleep.