Hilarious-Boris-Johnson-Incidents are the reliable, dependable crux of public politics in Britain, but beneath the pornography of humourism lies a dangerous reality. It’s abecome sign of a phenomenon reaching mass hysteria when it becomes a daily ritual for a cacophony of tweets, likes, and ‘BORIS FOR PM’ to ripple over the net – subsequent to broadcasts making a Mr Bean out of a Powell – the neural pathways of our national consciousness sparked, alight, salvating at the herald of the next shenanigans. When you contrast the passionless and annoying din of the political class with Johnson’s idiosyncrasies, it becomes clear why the Tory personality is the undisputed poster boy of politics, the most anticipated bumbler on the news. But he is no harmless joke.
The Boris we think we know and love intimately is the relatable fuck-up, one of us, posh but – who’d have thought it – human! We think that if we took him down to Jesters and concocted him a dirty pint, he’d down it, spill some on his crotch, laugh it off and Dad dance his way through the evening, whilst stuttering and slurring out gold coated one-liners. It’s an endearing image and occasionally I believe it, but I have to accept the sober truth: ‘Bo-Jo’ is little more than a national myth. The Johnson we think we know and love intimately is a cult of personality constructed for worship at the altar of our national pretensions.
Boris’ conspicuous media appearances strongly suggest that he actively cultivates a ‘buffoonish’ image for comic effect, but even the most astute critics would be wrong to declare his personality a ploy to be underestimated, whilst he blags his way to Downing Street behind the backs of his peers and attacks whole demographics hiding behind humour and free speech, leaving the nation more deeply bitter and polarised than ever as a senile old wave of commentators like Rowan Atikinson give tedious moralising sermons that let him get away with fanning the flames of division.
Moreover his intelligence and ambition are too noticeable, too striking for him to really be a clueless buffoon. He’s candidly stated “cynical self-interest” as one of his motivators in politics and makes no secret of his expertise in classical culture. Meanwhile, respected Tory MP Colonel Stewart has stated that he’d be happy to see Johnson at the helm of the party. He is clearly at home in Machiavellian machinations.
Although he is deeply conscious of the potency of his personality as an electoral force, it’s the media and the British people, not Johnson, who have been instrumental in making ‘Bo-Jo’ so consumable. He’s irresistable because, coincidentally, the tropes and stereotypes venerated in British culture are existent to varying degrees in his biography and personality. These facets became rapidly evident after his highly popular and successful cameos on Have I Got News For You, and consequently, his statements and appearances in the media have been accentuated to make compelling viewing. But He is no harmless joke.
Johnson is presented first and foremost as the ‘Upper-Class Twit’, a rich and well-educated man with no brains, exactly the kind of person who’d bluster in to a situation where they’re left dangling inelegantly from a zip wire, patriotically flapping two miniature union jacks, whilst nonchalantly sputtering Received Pronunciation as if nothing were the matter. Nothing makes Briton swoon more than the archaic. The ascendance of the ‘Upper Class Twit’ image has run concurrent to Johnson’s political career, in which his incendiary and boorish public comments have also made him the ‘Ensemble Dark Horse’ in his machinations to become mayor, and, however much he contests the idea, potential Tory leader. This personality behind the cult is one of the most interesting political phenomena in modern British politics, and has helped to solidify Boris as the ‘Crazy Awesome’ type, the person whose offbeat antics – which would usually lead them to a sacking – slides off their Teflon skin and increases their popularity.
‘Bo-Jo’ only plays up to the image that has been constructed for him, a personality which satisfies and connects with the large herd of citizens parched by the arid tedium of boring men in suits. Johnson’s brand of politics-with-personality should be celebrated for puncturing the sterility of a Westminster that actively cultivates a bland, aloof air, however objectionable his politics, (see his boorish comments on Liverpool and Hillsborough.) The monotonous drawl of Cameron limps alongside the enlivened comic oratory of Johnson, punctuated with irreverence and light-heartedness at every juncture. Boris is popular for a good reason because we suspect that if we cut him open there would be organs, not the circuitry and extraterrestrial technology many suspect is sustaining David Cameron.
But the cultish cry of BORIS FOR PM is exactly that, cultish, and if we aren’t careful, our tittles may shoo-in what may one day be referred to as ’Johnsonian Britain,’ and that will be no laughing matter.