Thousands Loot Britain’s Prestigious and Profitable Public Image

In Satire on August 15, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Last week, thousands up and down the country were seen looting, attacking or burning down Britain’s businesses, buildings, police force and its image of quaint, traditional, stiff-upper lip civility.

People broke into shops and came out with not only goods such as trainers and plasma TVs, but also physical fragments of this important British image. The TAY reporter, who bravely ventured into the chaos, reported seeing a yob coming out of a Clinton store, holding a framed picture of ‘Wills and Kate’, excitedly shouting, “YO, BRE’RIN, I straigh’ up teethed a paw’tion of da’ great British stereotype!”

And this man was by no means alone, as this British image was significantly stolen and damaged throughout. Indeed, many commentators are claiming that it will take a very long time to recover this image and some even doubt that it ever can be. This is despite the Prime Minister, David Cameron, unveiling a £20m British Image Support Scheme for the long term recovery of the image and a £10m recovery scheme to be set up in order for local councils to propagate necessary illustrations of civility and prosperity, however illusory, in the short term.

The tourist industry is the one most directly affected by the theft itself. The obvious reason for this is the reasonable prediction that tourist numbers will fall as prospective tourists stay away, fearing they will get caught up in the violence. There are more intangible reasons too, though, such as many tourists feeling the fair, aristocratic, upstanding appearance of Britain and its citizens they have been sold being one big fat lie. TAY learns, however, that some rather unscrupulous travel agents are trying to cash in on this ostensibly new Britain by organising ‘riot tours’ and ‘riot activity centres’, whereby people can smash up windows and start fires in controlled, rural locations.

The film industry is also feeling the effects of the loss. Whether satirically or sincerely, this noble if stuffy image is regularly expounded on by the small and the silver screen, by production companies from good ol’ Blightly and from abroad, especially the U.S. of A. With the rioters having stole so much of the promoted image, seemingly irreversibly, many production companies are in disarray. These companies are going to find it considerably harder to so shamelessly exploit the refined, restrained, twee British image, as it has been broadcasted to the world, essentially, how many uneducated, violent twerps the UK has like everywhere else. No longer will those who haven’t lived in Britain so easily buy the conceit that we all have dearly held connections to Royals and all live happily in comfortable upper-middle class civility, reading The Financial Times, watching that ‘strange game’ cricket and eating cream teas . No longer will the worst relationship issues be seen as (ultimately minor)romantic problems stemming from affably bumbling Englishmen. No longer will the worst civil unrest appear to be drive by arguments . And, most importantly, probably no longer will the quaintly self-absorbed bubbles of ‘Notting Hill’s and ‘Wimbledon’s (or Jane Austen period dramas) seem to matter when there is far ‘realer’ problems happening.

‘Bumbler’-in-chief, Hugh Grant, was quick to come out bemoaning the effect it will have on his career: “with so many Britons proving themselves to be…well, downright cruel fools, who is really going to buy into my carefully cultivated image of amiable yet maladroit, loverlorn English gentleman?!”  This image is, of course, a huge con. As attested by Grant’s regular appearances on talk shows in light of the News International hacking scandal, he is actually a very self-aware, even self-deprecating, politically astute and articulate man. He thus accounts for the image by  claiming “…well, our friends across the pond love this image don’t they. You may call it shallow, but unfortunately money rules in this world, and I don’t think what I’m doing is in any way as deceitful as some of the financial elite. Yes, I may somewhat cheat some people out of a strictly accurate worldview, but I’d like to think in doing so, I provide some laughs. Many bankers have humourlessly cheated people out of livelihoods.” Grant, though, sees little future in the promotion of this image: “alas, in light of recent events, I don’t think this image is really tenable. At least it’s happened now, rather than in the nineties, now that I’m rich and have enjoyed the adoration of millions (including some rather beautiful women *cheeky smile*), having rode the feel-good wave of New Labour and Brit pop…”

Grant’s partner-in-crime, Richard Curtis, purveyor of such whimsical fluff as Notting HillThe Vicar of Dibley, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love, Actually, is also acutely aware of the probable impact of the riots on his career: “yeh, the attacks must have been heartbreaking for the families and businesses directly affected, but what about good ol’ Richard over here?! My films have always been kinda escapist, but it’s going to be very hard for me to recover my brand of feel-good, romantic schmaltz in such a relentlessly real world. Even Americans in the Mid-West probably won’t emotionally buy into my typical film now *sighing*…..” Curtis does, however, have a few possible solutions: “I dunno…maybe I could do some kind of modern-day Romeo and Juliet featuring a bird and a bloke from two rival… ‘ghettoes’ I think they’re called, ending in not being able to get to a wedding cos of the riots or summin like that. Or, I could take advantage of the very ‘British’ goodwill of the people offering cups of tea and sweeping the sweets by adding some cheesy, contrived romance and making a film out of it. The yanks would love that shit, to be fair. I could call it ‘Broomance’….”

We await to see if the UK is swept off its feet…..

Joel Durston

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