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.

8 responses to “Infantilism

  1. There were comments about this on The News Quiz last week. Alas I can’t get BBC from here, so I’ve no idea if Have I Got News for You was running.
    That’s the problem with silly rules like this – people just take the piss out of them.

  2. Lee, you’re going to hate me for saying this, but hre goes. A few weeks ago a politicians stood up to say, in so many words, that he wanted a world where children were not treated like adults, and adults were not treated like children. That politician was David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party.
    I think that his complaint is very much like yours – that in a world where people are denied the opportunity to think for themselves; where adults are ‘nannied’ by people who imagine they have everyone’s best interests at heart; and yet where children are pressurized to become adult, to become sexualized, while they are still children, you will – of course – get the world in which we live in now. A world in which adults expect everything they want now, and if they don’t get it, they demand that ‘the government’ does something about it, or they’ll go out and get drunk.

  3. No it’s not. This is a joke. A man walks into a bar. “Ouch,” he said. Well, my 9 year old thinks it’s funny.

  4. Alejandro – sorry; requires some familiarity with the history of British TV comedy.
    Anna – I wonder. Hope so.
    Bob – I first picked up on it on an excellent Have I Got More News For You last weekend. Taking the piss is what comedy does, no?
    Henry – ‘hate’ you for saying? Not at all. Fair point; I find it funny (which was, in part, your intent, I think).
    But, if you’d asked me to guess which politician said that, I’d have been dithering over a long all colours list. The sort of populist flim-flam easily spouted by some filo courting the popular vote. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Nick Griffin comes out with similar on Question Time this evening.
    Nothing’s perfect, which the self-deprecatory contradictoriness of this piece attempts to convey. There is, of course, a potential for a kind of ‘reverse fascism’ here, in which we can’t stand people’s tastes that don’t accord to our own ideal. Personally, I’m all for choice and the freedom to exercise it. But this BBC move (if it is) would seem to limit it for adults. I mean, come on, comedy is important.
    I’m absolutely of the view that children should be allowed to be children, and develop their own personalities and tastes at their own rate. That the BBC and others pre-watershed broadcast things like the sarcastic nastiness of overly confrontational tosh such as Eastenders, or the pseudo-soft-porn of Spears or Aguilera videos, is hypocritical. And if that’s this liberal revealing a degree of ‘conservativeness’ on that point, well, I haven’t got a problem with that


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s