Well, we’ve arrived at that time of year again when I find myself forced to write an editorial which will either be read at the end of one year, or the beginning of the next. Obviously, this leaves me in something of a quandary: should I be retrospective, and risk being instantly dated for readers coming in during January; or should I try and look to the year ahead, in the process risking the appearance of being unseasonable to December readers? Or should I try and be Janus-faced, looking in both directions simultaneously? Of course, it isn’t just the subject matter which is problematic this time of year, the whole tone of the piece also has to be considered. Light and frivolous might be alright for the festive month of December, but it is hardly appropriate for the more sobering days of January. To digress slightly, that’s something I always find fascinating about this time of year: the way in which we embrace the festive spirit of December, in an attempt to stave off the reality of Winter with frenzied merry making, only to stumble, exhausted, into the harsh and chilly embrace of January. Is it any wonder so many people find January the most depressing month of the year? It brings a harsh dose of reality after the false warmth of December. But getting back to the point – the two-faced nature of this time of year is rather appropriate, as it pretty much sums up the way I feel, in retrospect, about the passing year, and reflects the mixed feelings I have toward its successor. Whilst the year’s had many highs, including seeing traffic to this site increase significantly and the establishment of Sleaze Diary, it has also seen a number of disappointments for me in other areas of my life. However, it is ending with an unexpected development for me professionally, which, in the long term, will inevitably alter my life irrevocably. Although a positive development, it will mean new responsibilities and, in the coming year, will leave me with less time for my online activities and result in some major changes to my lifestyle and circumstances. While, ultimately, this will all be for the best, it is sometimes difficult to let go of the past, hence my mixed feelings for the immediate future.
But enough about me, what about the usual editorial ranting? After all, that’s what you are all here for, isn’t it? During the past twelve months I seem to have been obsessed with the rise of the idiot in our society. So, in the spirit established above, has this really been the Year of The Idiot? Are people actually getting stupider, and will the next twelve months be any better? Well, judging by my experiences online, there can be little doubt that they are definitely getting stupider. From what I’ve seen at every level – from the search terms which are bringing people to The Sleaze, through the message board discussions of our stories, to the e-mails I receive – I can honestly say that there is no hope for the human race. I ask you, who other than a drooling imbecile puts search terms like ‘my wife naked’, or ‘my missus being shagged’ into a search engine and actually expect to get a relevant result? Words escape me when I try to describe the sheer mental numbness of such individuals. Yet they do it. And do it again. And again. Equally dispiriting are the various message boards where I’ve found The Sleaze under discussion this past year. As I’ve mentioned over on Sleaze Diary, the most depressing aspect of these is the way in which they inevitably seem to devolve into debates as to whether the story in question is true or not! For fuck’s sake! What do I have to do to make this stuff more obviously fictional, as the ludicrous plots, bizarre character names and obvious outright lies are clearly not enough? I’m seriously considering adding a pop-up to every page saying – in huge flashing letters – ‘IF YOU ARE A CRETIN THIS COULD SERIOUSLY CHALLENGE YOUR POWERS OF COMPREHENSION, or ‘SATIRICAL MATERIAL: NOT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY’. I’m not sure that sort of thing would work, though. On one of these message boards, they only decided the story they’d ‘discovered’ (I Buried Paul, for what it is worth), was fictional after one of the dullards actually bothered to click to the homepage. Mind you, what alerted them to its fictional nature wasn’t the strap line (SATIRE: HUMOUR: PARODY: NEWS: POLITICS: MEDIA), nor was it the nature of the other featured stories (Diet, Fat Bastards, Diet, Scared Stiff and When Art Attacks, for instance). Oh no, it was the disclaimer right at the bottom of the page stating that all the characters were entirely fictional, etc. Well, no shit Sherlock! I’m beginning to think that only solution (barring a mass cull of idiots), would be for me to include explanations with each story, highlighting the satirical bits for the morons.
I’ve discussed the e-mails I receive from TV researchers asking for contact details of the characters in The Sleaze at length elsewhere. However, whilst these show the way in which the new idiocy is reaching deep into the media’s infrastructure, the more general spam is equally evidence of the spread of stupidity. I’m sure that you are all plagued by the same dodgy share offers, Nigerian scam letters, penis enlargement schemes, phantom lottery wins and Viagra offers that I am. The depressing thing is that the mere existence of this crud in such quantities is evidence of how stupid significant numbers of people (who are apparently intelligent enough to use a computer and connect to the web) are – the only reason this type of spam persists is because enough people actually reply to it to make it cost-effective! Jesus Christ! Who are these morons? No, don’t tell me. I already know – they’re all around us! But what’s responsible for this rising tide of idiocy? I strongly suspect the rise and rise of the cult of celebrity has something to do with. It surely can’t be a good thing for impressionable proto-morons to see these over paid, untalented steaks of piss being allowed to dribble out their cretinous opinions through every available media outlet. Every drooling imbecility they utter is seized upon by the sycophantic press as another pearl of wisdom, when, in reality, it’s the intellectual equivalent of a steaming turd. Another contributing factor, I’m sure, are the ‘powers that be’, the establishment, or whatever we want to call them. Is it any wonder the population are turning into mindless vegetables when we live in a country where our largest police force tells us how stretched its resources are by the ‘War on Terror’ that it’s having difficulty dealing with such minor crimes as burglary, rape and murder, but still manages to devote time and resources to investigating the cash for honours ‘scandal’ (people who donate money to political parties often get knighthoods – never!), and allegations that Princess Diana was murdered (by a conspiracy of renegade gay secret agents in league trying to stop her from revealing that Pope John Paul II had secretly married Mother Teresa). I could go on, but I’m already foaming at the mouth! See what a year of sleaze does to me? The fact is that I see no prospect of the coming year being any different. It may mark the end of the Chinese Year of the Idiot, but it will probably now be the year officially designated by the United Nations to celebrate the international contributions of morons. Ah well, just keep it sleazy!