August 19, 2009
Charlie Brooker’s columns are so funny and brilliantly written they actually make you want to buy the Guardian. As a media satirist, he is second to few – right up there with Armando Iannucci and Chris Morris. When he mocked me mercilessly in print about a documentary on the Upper Class I made a few years back, I considered it the most tremendous honour.
Why is he so great? Well apart from his gloriously surreal analogies, his no-holds-barred fearlessness, his mastery of Swiftian invective and his cruelly brilliant sense of humour, he’s someone who really knows his stuff. When he has ago at TV and media culture, he does so from the position of someone who understands what makes good art and why quality is something we should always be striving for. (He did a fantastic TV essay once on Clangers and Noggin The Nog creator Oliver Postgate, so moving it made me want to weep). Which is why he can be so entertainingly harsh on anything that falls short of his exacting standards.
Here, though, he is on TV this week offering his considered view on Dan Hannan and the NHS. (Hat Tip: David S Taylor and Tory Outcast)
“Dan Hannan is a boggle-eyed, slap-headed, unpleasant, revolting, heartless, ****-brained, attention-grabbing, foetid excuse for a prick.”
Normally the joy of Brooker is that whatever he says, you think: “That’s so true.” But in this case it just isn’t. Or funny. And I’m really not saying that because I’m a friend of Dan’s. (There’s probably even a schadenfreude part of me which quite enjoys seeing the overexposed baldie being given his comeuppance) (xxxxDan). I’m saying it because, judging Brooker by his own high standards, it’s lame, totally uninsightful, woefully unamusing. And because, worst of all, it evinces exactly the kind of intellectually lazy, identikit-left, student-bar, group-think which Brooker is normally so quick to condemn and mock.
God how I would like to see Brooker satirizing his own performance here. By the end he’d feel so awful he’d never dare show his face on screen again.