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I can make you hate, страница 1

 

I can make you hate
 


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I can make you hate


  CHARLIE BROOKER

  I Can Make You Hate

  For Covey

  CONTENTS

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Introduction

  Part One

  In which the author has an out-of-body experience, is shaken to discover that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is slightly younger than he is, and decides there is too much ‘stuff’ in the world.

  Part Two

  In which Jedward are born, Dubai is revealed to be a figment of the world’s imagination, and snow falls from the sky to the amazement of Britain’s rolling news networks.

  Part Three

  In which Paddy McGuinness gets flushed down a tube, the Cameron era creeps closer, crisps are eaten and newspapers are likened to a narcotic.

  Part Four

  In which Katie Price takes on the afterlife, some white supremacists show off in prison, and cows stare at you. Just stare at you.

  Part Five

  In which a mosque is not built at Ground Zero, everyone in the world is strangled, and Screen Burn comes to an end.

  Part Six

  In which EastEnders is revealed to be a work of fiction, Nick Clegg worries about human beings with feet, and a teenager incurs the wrath of the internet for singing a bad song badly.

  Part Seven

  In which tabloid journalists make the world worse, Ed Miliband tumbles into a vortex, and cars are driven too quickly.

  Part Eight

  In which David Cameron is a lizard.

  Part Nine

  In which Sonic the Hedgehog’s sexual orientation goes under the microscope, a man in a penguin suit proves surprisingly popular, and idiots salivate over an arse that isn’t there.

  Acknowledgements

  Index

  About the Author

  By the Same Author

  Copyright

  INTRODUCTION

  This book contains a lot of words, each of which had to be typed by hand. Consider that next time you’re complaining about writing not being a proper job.

  All the words in this book were individually typed, letter by-letter – see what I mean about the truly gargantuan level of effort involved? – between August 2009 and July 2012.

  And as you will soon discover, some of them weren’t merely typed, but were then fed into an autocue and read aloud on television. That’s an unnecessarily opaque way of saying ‘I’ve included bits of scripts from some TV shows I was on.’

  My previous collections of scribble have alternated chapters full of TV review columns with other, more general writings. But since I quit writing the Screen Burn column roughly halfway through this book, this time around everything’s presented in chronological order, unfurling like a long, inky turd.

  Not that you have to sit down and read it all in sequence. I recommend dipping in at random. Easy if you’re reading this on paper: not so simple if you’ve chosen the snazzy and futuristic ‘ebook’ edition. Unless I’m mistaken, ebooks don’t yet offer you the option to read books in ‘shuffle’ mode, on the basis that the result would be meaningless chaos, unless you’re reading The Way I See It by Sir Alan Sugar, in which case it’s a stunning improvement.

  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the book. Don’t take anything in it too seriously, and don’t glue it to the end of a Kalashnikov and carry out an atrocity. Apart from that, do what you want with it. It’s yours now.

  Charlie Brooker,

  London, 2012

  PART ONE

  In which the author has an out-of-body experience, is shaken to discover that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is slightly younger than he is, and decides there is too much ‘stuff’ in the world.

  Screened for your pleasure

  23/08/2009

  Try not to bellow with fear and/or excitement, but video screens are coming to magazines. Next month, thousands of copies of vapid US showbiz journal Entertainment Weekly will contain a slimline electronic display capable of showing forty minutes of video, activated when you open the magazine. As an added bonus, if you dip it in the bath while reading it, you’ll instantly win a free forty-minute full-body electroconvulsive therapy session (although sadly, for legal reasons, I have to point out that isn’t true).

  This tragic news is no surprise. Screens have us surrounded.

  Last week I stood on a tube platform watching a Persil commercial being digitally projected in HD on to the opposite wall, to give me something to stare at while waiting for my delayed train. It showed gurgling kiddywinks in polar-white clothes gambolling in a field at the height of summer, tumbling and rolling and skipping and laughing, as if the sheer supernatural luminance of their outfits had somehow short-circuited their minds.

  The contrast between the faces in the advert and the faces on the platform couldn’t have been more marked. In the advert, all smiles. On the platform, morose expressions laminated by a thin sheen of grime and sweat; hangdog mugs smeared with London.

  There’s no air-con on the underground, so on a hot day people quickly resemble clothed piglets trapped in a can waiting for the air to run out. In these circumstances, the Persil ad was downright sarcastic; not a harmless video, but a magic window showing what life could be, if only you weren’t stuck in a stinking, clammy pipe, jostling for space with fellow victims.

  The underground also has video adverts lining the escalators. Where once stood rows of little posters with the occasional blob of dried chewing gum stuck to the nose of a beaming model, now stand rows of plasma screens displaying animated versions of movie posters and slogans for chain stores, and no one knows where to stick their gum any more because the pictures slide around.

  It’s impossible not to be slightly impressed, not to think, ‘Ooh, I’m in Minority Report,’ even as you glide by for the 10,000th time. The screens seem to belong there more than the real people trundling past them. Ad-world looks so vivid and clean, we humans are grotty streaks in a toilet pan by comparison.

  They should ban us flesh-scum from using the escalators, and lovingly place glossy examples of technology on there instead: MacBooks, iPods, shiny white smoothie makers, Xbox 360s and so on; one brilliant white machine quietly perched atop each step, screens advertising Ice Age 3D mirrored in their gleaming minimalist surfaces as they scroll steadily upwards, ascending into the light. Hey, it’s their destiny. We can use the stairs.

  At London’s Westfield shopping centre – picture the Duty Free section of a twenty-second-century spaceport – a series of ‘information centres’ vaguely resembling giant iPhones stand dotted around the echoing floorspace.

  If you want to know where to buy some jeans, simply tap the interactive touchscreen and it instantly returns 500 different store names with step-by-step directions on how to find them.

  And if you want to know where to buy a radio or some comics or maybe just something with a bit of character to it, simply tap it again and it’ll sit there ignoring you; judging you somehow, like a mutely brooding obelisk – until you can’t bear the chill any longer and run screaming from the complex, passing across 2,000 CCTV screens as you go.

  If a Victorian gentleman arrived in present-day London, he’d think we’d been invaded by glowing rectangles. The average single Londoner’s day runs as follows: you wake up and watch a screen until it tells you it’s time to leave the house, at which point you step outside (appearing on a CCTV screen the moment you do so), catch a bus (with an LED screen on the outside and an LCD screen on the inside) to the tube station (giant screens outside; screens down the escalator; projected screens on the platform), to sit on a train and fiddle with your iPod (via the screen), arrive at the office (to stare at a screen all day), then head home to split your attention between the internet (the screen on your lap) and
the TV (the screen in the corner) and your mobile (a handheld screen you hold conversations with).

  All we city dwellers need is a screen to have sex with and the circle is complete. Panasonic is doubtless perfecting some hideous LCD orifice technology as we speak. Probably one that makes 3D adverts appear in your head at the point of orgasm. Coco Pops are so chocolatey they even turn the milk brown. Now pass me a tissue.

  The absolute omnipresence of screens is still a recent occurrence – they’ve only become totally unavoidable in the last four years or so – but already I’m utterly acclimatised. When I venture into the moist green countryside, the lack of screens is stunning. I stare at wooden pub signs with dumb incomprehension.

  The King’s Head? Is that a film? Why isn’t he moving? Is it a film about a king who can’t move?

  When a cow saunters by without so much as a single plasma display embedded in its hide, I instinctively film it on my phone, so I can see it on a screen where it won’t freak me out. Then I email a recording to the folks back home, so they can look it up online and tell me what it is. Ooh: apparently it’s a type of animal. I get it now, now it’s on my screen.

  Yes. Screens. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a screen pissing illuminated phosphor into a human face – forever.

  A Thousand Mooing Wankers

  28/08/2009

  Animals, all of us: dying, desperate animals, alone in our skulls, in our souls, quietly tortured by our foreknowledge of death, wandering a mindless rock, baying with pain or killing each other.

  That’s the working week. Come Saturday we crave relief. Slumped, defeated in the corner, our flagellated cadavers scarcely held together by the gentle cocooning pressure of our armchairs, wearily we pivot our milky, despairing eyes in the direction of our television sets, seeking consolation or distraction or maybe just a little inconsequential merriment: a dab of balm to spread on these anguished bones, this empty heart.

  And this is what you give us, universe? You give us The X Factor?

  It doesn’t even work right now. The X Factor is broken. They’ve changed the audition process. Bye bye claustrophobic rehearsal room, hello cavernous stadium. The wannabe singers used to perform a cappella in front of four poker-faced judges; now they have to perform karaoke in front of a thousand mooing wankers. The programme may have been a cruel machine before, but at least it worked. This latest build is a mess.

  For starters, they’ve deleted the show’s one joke: that the bad singers don’t realise they’re bad until the judges break the news. Now an ocean of cackling dimwits almost drowns them out the second they open their mouths. Consequently, the panel’s comments come as no surprise. The mob’s already beaten the contestants to the ground before Cowell can deliver his death blow.

  What’s more, the crowd’s very presence amplifies the cruelty of the format to such a degree, even the smallest of guilty home chuckles is strangled at birth. In the first week, an overweight girl explained she’d been living in her car for six weeks because her family had been evicted from their house thanks to her dreadful singing. The audience tittered throughout. Even Cowell looked embarrassed as he eventually dismissed her from the stage after a few half-hearted insults.

  Speaking of leaving the stage, the biggest absurdity of all is that the traditional moments of ‘candid’ note-comparing chit-chat between the judges, usually conducted as soon as an especially bad or good contestant vacates the room, now have to be performed panto-style, with raised voices, so they can be heard over the general audience hubbub.

  ‘Y’know, I really liked him. That kid’s got potential.’

  ‘WHAT’S THAT LOUIS?’

  ‘I said he’s got potential.’

  ‘HE’S FOCKING MENTAL?’

  ‘No, POTENTIAL. And he’s pitch-perfect.’

  ‘DANNII’S A BITCH TO WORK WITH?’

  ‘No, no – stop crying Dannii, what I said was … oh FORGET IT.’ [Exits Riverdancing]

  Aside from shattering the relatively intimate dynamic betwixt act and judge, holding each audition in a massive live venue has the added anti-bonus of making each conversation less enjoyable even simply from a technical perspective. Editing it must be a nightmare, what with crowd noise leaking over every comment.

  Another thing: it pre-emptively wrecks the live shows. How can the viewer possibly salivate at the prospect of watching a successful auditionee cope in front of a live studio audience when they’ve already seen them slay an entire stadium in week one? Where’s the jeopardy going to come from? Unless ITV suddenly reveal they’ll be singing live in a Thunderdome, dodging cudgel blows as they belt out the best of Elton John, there’ll be little or no sense of peril at all.

  Even watching the ‘good’ performers is worse than ever. In X Factor world, you’re only considered ‘good’ if you ostentatiously bend every note like Mariah Carey folding a theremin in half. Now each vocal boast is met with an instant standing ovation from the horde of oinking dumbos cramming every aisle. To tune in is to witness a shocking mass rally devoted to the slaughter of basic melody that sets music back fifty years.

  The X Factor not only fails to provide consolation for the futile horrors of human existence – it’s not even as good as it used to be.

  The Omen

  04/09/2009

  At last weekend’s Edinburgh TV festival, the annual MacTaggart Lecture was delivered by Niles Crane from Frasier, played with eerie precision by James Murdoch. His speech attacked the BBC, moaned about Ofcom and likened the British television industry to The Addams Family. It went down like a turd in a casserole.

  Still, the Addams Family reference will have been well-considered because James knows a thing or two about horror households: he’s the son of Rupert Murdoch, which makes him the closest thing the media has to Damien from The Omen.

  That’s a fatuous comparison, obviously. Damien Thorn, offspring of Satan, was educated at Yale before inheriting a global business conglomerate at a shockingly young age and using it to hypnotise millions in a demonic bid to hasten Armageddon. James Murdoch’s story is quite different. He went to Harvard.

  Above all, Murdoch’s speech was a call for the BBC’s online news service to be curbed, scaled back, deleted, depleted, dragged to the wastebasket, and so on, because according to him, the dispersal of such free ‘state-sponsored’ news on the internet threatens the future of other journalistic outlets. Particularly those provided by News International, which wants to start charging for the online versions of its papers.

  Yes Thorn – I mean, Murdoch – refers to the BBC as ‘state-sponsored media’, because that makes it sound bad (although not quite as bad as ‘Satan-sponsored media’, admittedly). He evoked the government’s control of the media in Orwell’s 1984, and claimed that only commercial news organisations were truly capable of producing ‘independent news coverage that challenges the consensus’.

  I guess that’s what the News of the World does when it challenges the consensus view that personal voicemails should remain personal, or that concealing a video camera in a woman’s private home bathroom is sick and creepy (it magically becomes acceptable when she’s Kerry Katona).

  Another great example of independent consensus-challenging news coverage is America’s Fox News network, home of bellicose human snail Bill O’Reilly and blubbering blubberball Glenn Beck. Beck – who has the sort of rubbery, chucklesome face that should ideally be either a) cast as the goonish sidekick in a bad frat-house sex comedy, or b) painted on a toilet bowl so you could shit directly on to it – has become famous for crying live on air, indulging in paranoid conspiracy theorising, and labelling Obama a ‘racist’ with ‘a deep-seated hatred for white people or white culture’.

  As a news source, Fox is about as plausible and useful as an episode of Thundercats. Still, at least by hiring Beck, they’ve genuinely challenged the stuffy consensus notion that people should only really be given their own show on a major news channel if they’re sane.

  The trouble is, once
you’ve gasped or chuckled over the YouTube clips of his most demented excesses, he’s actually incredibly boring: a fat clown with one protracted trick. His show consists of an hour of screechy, hectoring bullshit: a pudgy middle-aged right-winger sobbing into his shirt about how powerless he feels. It’s an incredible performance, but it belongs in some kind of zoo, not on a news channel. But that’s the Murdoch way.

  Now there’s a lengthy, valid, and boring debate to be had about the scope and suitability of some of the BBC’s ambitions but, quite frankly, if their news website (a thing of beauty and a national treasure) helps us stave off the arrival of the likes of Beck – even tangentially, even only for another few years until the Tories take over and begin stealthily dismantling the Beeb while a self-interested press loudly eggs them on – then it deserves to be cherished and applauded.

  To finish his speech, Murdoch claimed, ‘The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit.’ Or to put it another way: greed is good.

  Then he clopped off stage on his cloven hooves, guffing out a hot cloud of sulphur as he left.

  *

  NB: years after this article appeared, I co-wrote a comedy for Sky, although by then James Murdoch had stepped down from BSkyB. Incidentally, if you ‘followed the money’ up the chain of previous TV shows I’ve been involved with, you could arrive at Silvio Berlusconi, a man I once described on TV as ‘an ejaculating penis with a Prime Minister attached to it’. And this book is published by Faber and Faber, a company owned and operated by the serial killer Dennis Nilsen.

 
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