I'm not going to pretend to even begin to understand quantum physics, but sometimes I like to dwell on the idea of parallel universes and all the possibilities that they might hold. Somewhere out there is a world where the dinosaurs didn't die out and Jurassic Park is a buddy movie.
Perhaps another world where the invention of email happened before the telephone and in 2012 socialising is destroyed by people actually talking to each other. Or maybe there is a world out there where I don't have a beard. All those exciting maybes. One I've been thinking about a lot lately is a universe where Iain Duncan Smith isn't a politician, but an artist, satirist and one of those edgy sort of comedians where you don't think they mean what they say, but you're never sure and so laugh to make it better.
Imagine that world where instead of failing as a Tory leader in 2003 to the extent that the entire Conservative Party gave him a vote of no confidence. A world where he wasn't removed and replaced with Michael Howard - a man who was so irrelevant as a human being most people's brains have blocked out that he even existed. Instead of all that, in this parallel universe, at a very young age IDS's banal ideas on how the world works are laughed at by a boy at his naval school. Instead of then attending military school, he was persuaded into drama school, no one realising that this incredible character he'd created was in fact his real self, his own addled brain too confused by life rushing past to make anyone aware. All he knew was that people were paying attention.
Years later, clips of him on YouTube saying that 'poverty isn't all about money' would be mistakenly seen as hilarious satire, akin to Chris Rock's 'Guns don't kill people' rant. 'How can someone be this subversive?' the critics say, amazed at his performance ability to deliver all these clearly comedy views with a straight face. 'It's just amazing,' they remark 'that he tells families to get jobs despite knowing there aren't any, and that those that are in jobs are barely earning enough to survive due to wage cuts and inflation.' Many will note how his well written mock 'demonisation' of those who are on benefits is brilliantly underplayed and ignored later on to allow for the full, obvious irony of his 'witty' views that by making such benefits harder to get or removing them altogether only forces even more people onto the poverty line with little or no way out.
His true fame arrived with his one man show 'Disable This!' in which the character of Iain Duncan Smith took his hatred for human rights to a whole new level with a structure based around those who are unable to work being 'scroungers' despite whatever physical or mental hindrance they may have. Audiences would gasp before realizing, due their comedy savviness, that only a very intelligent mind could come up with notions so awful that no one could ever truly believe such things, and then laugh in relief. From this a sitcom 'Universal Cretin' was commissioned where Iain was allowed into parliament into the most unsuitable position for his 'character', the Department Of Work and Pensions. The show was an instant hit with its preposterous cast, led by Smith's bitter, angry, very bald creation.
Co-written by the famous left wing, Republican satirist Armando Iannucci, ratings for the show went through the roof, proving to be BBC's biggest hit of 2012. Two episodes won BAFTAS, including 'The One Where Iain Tackles A Problem By Changing The Definition Of The Problem' and 'The One Where Iain Destroys Democracy By Taking Away Benefits For Striking Workers Who Are Merely Standing Up For Their Rights That The Government Are Trying To Take Away.'
It would last two series, being cancelled halfway during the third as viewers would tire of such relentless hatred and hypocrisy. The Times would say that it had 'gone beyond realistic for no one could be that unaware of how a society should work', many saying it had become too dystopian by the second series where the series began to focus on the rise in hate crime against those with disabilities, whilst IDS's character continued to ignore the figures. The Guardian would comment that dark comedy had to have some respite, and the show had gone from an excellently imagined possible paradoxical world, to a horrid, bleak, nightmarish situation with no way out. Several intelligent comments underneath, for those were the only sort that would be posted, would compare it to Cormac McCarthy's The Road or Orwell's 1984. Iain's career would plummet quickly, such is the nature of the entertainment world. Despite calls for him to turn to his creativity to a new character or project, he would instead pack in everything, using his riches to hide away in his wife's £2m mansion rent free and becoming a recluse. A telling interview with a young reporter many years later would reveal that Iain was more like his character than previously thought, and the BBC would ban repeats of 'Universal Cretin' and stop a DVD release, the humour now soured in everyone's mouths.
It's worrying to think that if there are an infinite amount of parallel universes out there that we have somehow managed to land ourselves on the one that's a parody of all the others. I'd much prefer to have actual dinosaurs in ours, rather than just politicians with horrible prehistoric views of how to treat the people they are responsible for.
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