I got into more than one argument on social media this week. Three, if I recall correctly, only one of which was with someone who I have actually met and would claim to know. And when I say an argument I mean an argument, not a calm if dull debate about the merits of the Super League salary cap or something equally unimportant in the grand scheme. I’m talking about a full blown argument, provoked by people who clearly have absolutely no regard for what is decent and acceptable. Yes, people who watch The Undateables. And not only watch it but enjoy it and go ‘aww’ and ‘ahh’ at regular intervals.
I deliberately left that word ‘Undateables’ out of the title of this piece for fear that you would simply move on to the next hastily and barely crafted rant in the blogosphere. Even I’m getting quite bored of myself on this subject, which is little wonder given how many times I have been provoked by you, the idiot public, into telling everybody exactly what I think about the putrid thing. So tonight, in an audacious bid to stay off social media (except to post this piece on Facebook and Twitter) and thus avoid getting into any more slanging matches with a distinct absence of dignity, I’m trying to put down some coherent thoughts on the subject in my own space. That way you can take them or leave them and if we get into an argument we will all remember that it’s because you read it and had to, just had to bang the drum for your right to watch distasteful, downright offensive television.
As it happens I also defend your right to do just that. I just wish you would be a little more honest about it. Some of the shite
I have read from people defending The Undateables as a concept this past week is utterly risible. When you are ‘awwing’ and ‘aahing’ at the latest collection of down-on-their-lucks please have the decency to admit that you are not being entertained. Rather, you are being made to feel better and that is why you are watching. Better because you are comforted by the fact that there are people in the world you can look down on. Better because when these people find ‘love’ it means that you don’t have to feel so bad about the fact that you would never consider partnering up with someone with autism, cerebral palsy or achondroplasia. That’s a form of dwarfism in layman’s terms. Or terms that viewers of The Undateables will understand.
One of the common threads running through the argument of those who apologise for The Undateables is that the show gives the people featured the chance to find love and ‘be normal’. I can’t think of any single thing in the world more offensive than the notion that people with a difference need specially arranged television shows to give them a fair crack of the whip when it comes to the dating game. Not even Ken fucking Morley. This assertion is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you say that these people need this kind of vom-inducing helping hand, the more likely it becomes that they will. How are they going to get a date if you, sitting there in your perfect world of perfection you fat fuck, consider listening to their lifelong attempts to cop off to be a reasonably diverting form of entertainment rather than a fucking national disgrace? If you put away your lazy prejudices for a second and rose up against this kind of vile exploitation and voyeurism, perhaps the people featured would stand more of a sporting chance. The Undateables is nothing but another form of segregation, another way for you to shout ‘stick with your own kind and don’t come here trying to mix your faulty, biffy, imperfect genes with my exalted form of loveliness and absolute and unspeakable cool I’m fucking better than you’.
Yes, better. Because that is the message you send when you ‘aaw ‘ and ‘aah’ over The Undateables’ success stories as much as it is if you laugh out loud at their misfortunes. That you are better than they are and what is more, you are going to sit in front of your television for an hour with a big fat fucking cake and a cup of tea and prove it. To yourself if nobody else.
Now you will be glad to know that this is very possibly my last word on the Undateables. I simply don’t have the stomach to go into it any further. As I said before I absolutely respect your right to watch whatever sordid piece of shit television rocks your world. I’m addicted to Banshee, after all. The purpose of this piece is just to let you know that we know. We know why you are watching it and we want you to know that we know. And I say ‘we’ because I know the horror of ‘it’s not you, it’s the wheelchair/autism/dwarfism/delete as appropriate’. I was there when someone told my friend that he was ‘too fit to be in that wheelchair’. That’s a haunting place to be and to try to describe it to you would be the definition of futility.
Along with watching The Undateables and trying to pass it off as harmless entertainment that is in some way heart-warming when it is actually an assault on the dignity of everyone who doesn’t match your idea of what is normal.