Whilst it is somewhat funny and perhaps reassuring to see and hear Boris Johnson being heckled and booed as he alights from his chauffeur driven Range Rover and then traverses the stairs into St. Pauls for the platinum jubilee event with his wife Carrie, following and preceding the adulation given to the royals, what really comes to mind rather than a form of minor rebellion on the publics part, is the performance of a pantomime. We all know how a pantomime works, it is a participatory form of theatre where the audience is encouraged to join in and partake in the show. Cheers for the heroes and boos for the baddies. Simple, but highly effective. Just watch the platinum jubilee ceremony at play.
This metaphor works perfectly for our contemporary society, because this really is about as involved as we are allowed to be, fenced off from any real participation apart from being allowed to cheer and boo as the leading actors grace the stage. Of course, the directors, producers and architects of this pantomime are nowhere to be seen. Quietly in the background they have ensured that everything will run on time, that the social echelon is perfectly and precisely set and that everyone knows their place while the sales just come rolling in. In case of any true acts of dissent, defiance, or disobedience they have a phalanx of house bouncers to ensure the event goes as quietly and stress free as possible, for this pantomime is worth a lot of wonga!
Now it is not unheard of for someone from the other side of the fence dividing the classes of society to join the lead actors, but this is very far and few between and takes a lot of training, a lot of discipline to see the world from a self-interested point of view, but that can be easily learnt from watching many of these pantomimes, as ‘self-interest’ is the true name of game, it is the only narrative of these events, there has never been a different tale. There are of course many different narratives around, but the publicising, like these other pantomimes are very small and rarely reach the mainstream because the writers, the architects, directors and producers of the main narrative, the block-busting pantomimes, don’t want those voices heard, they don’t want those actors seen, it is not in their interest, it is anti-self-interest.
But yes, it is good to boo to Boris, it has quite a beautiful ring to it, but when he is gone will anything change? Of course not! He will be replaced by the audience’s other minor involvement in the pantomime, the act of voting after they have been manipulated and tricked into what box to tick, again all controlled by the writers, architects, directors, and producers. With the emergence of the new actor the performance of that particular character maybe different, may change, the actor will bring his or her own idiosyncrasies, their personal tics and characteristics to the act, but essentially, they will repeat the same lines, words and passages written for them because the stage is already set. If they think they can change what happens on the stage or the layout beneath the proscenium arch their career as an actor will be short lived and they will find themselves either on the other side of the fence or if they are lucky, very close to it.
So, what does this tell us? To stop booing the prime minister. Of course not. We all need our kicks in life! But if we really want to make a difference and participate in the pantomime, we need to be writing the narrative, directing the narrative, producing the narrative, and acting in the narrative. We need to fully participate and not just stand at the side lines playing the role of the audience.
Image by Jonny Gios