Sunday 22 September 2019

Does anyone remember the world before 2016?

Television review

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wirer.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wirer.
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

What are we going to do when all this is over? What will our lives be like when we are not watching Sky News half the day and steeling ourselves for another Newsnight to see if democracy is still the preferred mode of government in the United Kingdom?

What were our lives like before all this? Can anyone remember?

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Personally I have very little memory of the world as it was before 2016, except to wonder how we passed the time without these incessant parades of the grotesque in Britain and the United States.

Yes, on the odd day when the UK goes a bit quiet, you just move from Sky News to CNN.

Many, many times I have seen that classic set-piece on CNN, when about eight of the finest minds of Official America have gathered around the studio table to pronounce the latest Trump monstrosity to be the one that will surely take him down.

Yet we know that it won't really take him down, just that it would take him down if he were anyone else who has ever been in public life anywhere.

But that's the game, and we know how it works now.

They have hooked us into their evil machinations, so that there is now a small part of our souls that is lost forever - they have taken up residence there, the likes of "Boris" and Trump, and when they are taken down, we will find it very hard to let them go.

Trump understands this best of all, because he has openly turned his presidency into a television programme that runs all the time, and to which we are now addicted.

Of the people who are trying to take him down, we know that, say, Elizabeth Warren is a better person, better in every way. But when we are watching television, as most of us are most of the time, and we are presented with a choice between one of the worst men who has ever lived, and a respectable woman who just wants to do her job properly… well, the bad man will usually be doing the big numbers on Saturday night while the respectable woman will be tucked away in the quiet of the afternoon.

Last week though it was "Boris" giving us what we want, giving us what we need. There we were, watching avidly about 10 o'clock on Tuesday night as the House passed another historic vote - or at least it was the most historic since the last one, and would be the most historic until the next one, and the one after that.

And if he has achieved anything of any value in his disgraceful life, "Boris" has finally demonstrated that the kind of TV journalism which we have seen in politics since the days of black-and-white, is completely screwed.

I tried to warn the world of this, I kept insisting that political journalism as we know it is fine for reporting the trivia of everyday politics but is simply not equipped to deal with anything serious - and now that it's getting very serious in the UK and the USA, not only is the truth of this observation abundantly clear, we can see that "balanced" political reporting is actually enabling the destroyers of our civilisation.

They could not do it, without this arcane set-up in which grown men and women are supposed to simply convey the ravings of these terrible men as being just one side of an evenly balanced argument.

We will miss the rage too, the rage that we always felt towards those TV correspondents who created "Boris". We won't know what hit us when the Elizabeth Warrens of the game have restored some normality to the western world.

Ah, but you see what I did there? I made that commonly held assumption that there will indeed be an end to these times, that there is some ancient rhythm to the affairs of nations which means that we are due something completely different on our screens any year now.

Even if this were true, would anyone want it?

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