The Real Idiot Tax.

It has come to my attention that The Only Way Is Essex has, apparently, boosted the economy by more than one billion pounds. I am aware that this news is a couple of months old now but I was probably reading a book or something at the time, and thusly it passed me by. I will resist the urge to draw comparisons with James Bond Bad Guy evil organisations, mostly due to the fact that they don’t really work, but I wanted to get ‘evil’ into the opening paragraph because it seems apt. So, how has all this extra revenue been unlocked, I hear you all ask in a quiet, slightly confused and frightened voices. Presumably people have been panic buying basic literacy and numeracy tuition, in order to avoid a fate similar to the zoo-animal like idiots. Or maybe stock piling weaponry with which to defend from attacks during the perma-orange uprising of late 2013, the best of which being a sawn off with a small vanity mirror attached to the end, causing the enemy to stop and stare lovingly at their profile just before you have to wipe bits of it off the metal work.
Neither of those seemingly likely examples are correct. Sadly. Instead, sales of vital life products have soared. Fake Tan is up 89%, so nearly twice as many people now look like they definitely haven’t got a normal, natural, healthy glow, opting instead for an all over satsuma effect that leaves onlookers thinking, “from a bottle, unevenly applied, can’t afford a holiday, looks a bit like those knobs off of the telly”. Fake Eyelashes have exceeded even that growth, with a 249% increase that brings to mind the statistical eruption of an ocular toupee volcano. My mind anyway. This means that a) more people than I could ever imagine watch this shit, and b) that a lot of them seek to emulate what they see on screen. As far as I can tell this means that a terrifyingly large cross section of society wants to be an oddly luminous mahogany colour, vapid, unable to string sentences of more than six or seven words together – even then with several of the words used having been made up that morning – and completely void of any point or interest or dignity, charm or appeal.
I can try and convince myself that at least some of the increased purchasing can be attributed to the war on terror – sorry, War On Terror – and the need for undercover agents to darken their skin in order to fit in with their quarry. Or the importance of convincing eyelashes on a camel costume. Ultimately though, I can see that some of these funds may actually be produced by the show, as a side effect if nothing else, and this leaves me somewhat conflicted.
£1.4 billion is a lot of money, the sum of which many may speculate could only be produced by a dark, malevolent force, but it is the kind of sum the dark, malevolent force we voted in could use at the moment. It’s not like we don’t need the cash: nothing works, including most people, our services are being slowly dismantled and reassembled by Daleks or Lizard People or Cybermen or something, stamps have gone up 14p, bringing the cost of maybe getting a letter to someone several days late to 60p, and most of us have been in debt so long we now think that it is the seventh sense (the sixth being the ability to not see a hugely obvious plot twist coming). We could use the money. They could stop melting down hospitals and teachers to make butlers. So on that hand I suppose even I have to concede that there is an element of good in The Only Way Is Essex. Accidentally, you understand, but it’s there.
I prefer the other hand though. It’s the one I used to write with, turn pages in books other than a Speak-N-Spell, and gesticulate with when having conversations about things other than how the word Goat must have come from the fact that they look like they’re sporting a Goatee beard. Yeah, I can see why you’d want to be like these people. Morons. This hand is somewhat concerned that the problems we face as a country, and indeed planet, are more likely to be solved or eased by intelligent, educated, eloquent folks, than by a group of designer cocktail swilling, mild fame courting twats. A great deal of television seems intent on phasing clever out, operating with a steely determination to reduce everyone to an ineffectual, dribbling mess. At the very best those in charge are scheduling programmes that will reduce our capacity to think and feel, out of some kind of misguided sense that they are protecting us from our own potential to realise how terribly wrong everything is going. Like a common sense inoculation that removes the humanity in the knowledge that the virus is too strong. Well that seems silly to me, surely it’s better to go out fighting than to have all your interesting bits removed so that you can cope with the increasing banal simplicity of life. We’ve all seen One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, yes?

Of course, that sort of money is not generated by Tan and Lashes alone, that would be ridiculous and we do not yet live in a world that ridiculous. Vajazzling has gone up 400%, and we need to take this into account when holding our heads in our hands and audibly weeping. Now, hard as this may be to believe, the working knowledge I have of the Vajazzle is slight, so I am unsure how much the service costs. Or why. Just why. Whatever the price, I feel fairly safe in assuming that no matter how much St. Tropez or NaturaLashes you have shifted, that is a bucket load of Vajazzles, if you’ll excuse the pun. Could we all aim a little higher, not for the stars or the heavens, just above groin and tit height perhaps. It is better to stand in the gutter looking up, for sure, but these people are sitting in an orange puddle, looking at their tinsel and baubled junk. Kids used to want to be spacemen and magicians, dancers and brain surgeons, knights and dragons, bullet proof and made of chocolate and twelve feet tall. Things that they’d probably never achieve, but it’s better to aim high and fall short than to aim low and succeed. I don’t want to live in a world in which Vajazzles outnumber library cards.

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