Wednesday 26 October 2016

Helen Moorhouse: Why I find Adams and his online persona to be all too unsettling

Published 19/02/2013 | 15:30

Gerry Adams has become a fan and frequent user of Twitter
Gerry Adams has become a fan and frequent user of Twitter

YOU couldn't make up the news lately, could you? Ancient kings under car parks, fallen Olympic heroes, the Pope hanging up his little red slippers and planning some more time with the crossword.

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All proof that truth can definitely be stranger than fiction – that reality has plotlines that would probably be rejected as overly preposterous by any self-respecting Hollywood producer.

Unlike, say, the story of one man and his teddy bear doing everyday things like taking a bath with a rubber ducky, planting trees, eating black pudding for breakfast.

Our protagonist is a bilingual pet lover with a propensity for ditzy cock-ups that make an episode of 'Miranda' look like 'Primetime': "Here I am at work, needing to write something down, so just let me get my pen – oh NO! Silly me – it's not a pen, it's my toothbrush!".

Sometimes, he gets into hilarious scrapes like locking himself out of the house – and if it wasn't broken, he'd have shinned up the downpipe to get back in. What japes!

Yet, deep down, he's an an old romantic, enjoys a good family shindig and the beauty of nature at dawn. He's a good guy, really.

No, really...

Except this isn't a storyline for a sitcom. It's apparently the everyday doings of an Irish politician. To all appearances, a sort of cuddly, bumbling type who has taken to Twitter like his much-adored yellow duck to warm sudsy water, and is intent on showing that despite years of being treated like a mushroom, he's in fact just a fungi to be with: "Tiochfaidh ar latte!!", tweets Gerry Adams as he enjoys a coffee in the Sinn Fein bookshop on a Saturday afternoon. See what he did there? Hilarious!

Well, it would be if it wasn't just a little creepy.

Remember in the 80s and early 90s when Gerry Adams was only allowed to communicate on TV by means of the subtitle or the distorted voiceover? Fast forward through time and thanks to Twitter, we've finally found out at last what they were hiding from us all along – that he likes a bit of Gaelic games and jelly and custard for dessert. Sure what was there to worry about?

What indeed.

Once discovered, it is difficult to look away from Gerry Adams's tweets. They are, in part, amusing, with the randomness and quirky banality of their content; yet there is a greater part that is puzzling and quite disturbing.

Puzzling that an elected representative should take to social media to portray themselves in such a wacky way – on purpose.

Mr Adams's profile description is 'Sinn Fein president and TD for Louth'. Is it wise, then – is it appropriate – for him to tweet that he suspects his Ted wants to hook up in a same-sex relationship with – presumably – another stuffed toy called Tom, considering the gravitas of his position, his place in history and the responsibility he carries to the electorate?

And disturbing to think that all this just might be another exercise to generate increased acceptance – to insidiously promote to a younger, hipper, disillusioned generation of voters, the notion that Sinn Fein is a loveable, fun, kerrr-azy gang.

What will they do next to get down with the kidz, then? Mary Lou, Martin and the gang performing a vigorous Harlem Shake on YouTube? Hilarious memes?

Maybe Adams is genuinely like the person he portrays on Twitter. Maybe he really is just a guy who calls potatoes spuds and finds Twitter addictive. Just like the rest of us.

It's all still too unsettling. There are generations to go before the world is ready for this undeniably charismatic and well-spoken man, who leads a party inextricably linked with the, ahem, 'struggle', to suddenly re-invent himself as a loveable old goofball; to emerge from dark decades of sinister shadows and loss of life waving jazz hands and shouting 'ta-daa!, I'm hilarious, really!"

And alarming to think that if it all works, what our grandchildren's history books will say – if history will manage to re-tweet itself.

Next thing we know, they'll be saying it's been Ted's fault all along...

Irish Independent

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