The End Of The World… As We Know It
I think it’s about time for another rant. And such rants start best in the situation that I currently find myself: thoroughly drunk and in a state of mental exhaustion. And what better thing to rant about in such a complete mess that I exhibit at the moment than the end of modern humanity? Oh I wouldn’t worry, it’s not me that is dragging down society, at least not yet. However, let me point you in the direction of Tool Academy (E4, Mondays), a show that genuinely makes me weep for civilization, yet at the same time delivers me from the brink of self-induced torturous oblivion. You see, this is a programme that shows us how awful we all could be, if we put our minds to it.
It would probably make sense now to outline the programme for you all. It’s what most critics would have done halfway through the first paragraph, but forgive me for taking a slightly different stance, I’ve little concept of blog construction at the moment. Tool Academy starts off life as Britain’s Ultimate Lad, where 12 guys are entered into a competition to show who is the most self-important, preening, dopey prick of the bunch. They flex, drink and flirt with all and sundry to assure themselves of the ultimate title: the guy that every other man in Britain wishes he could get away with being. One ‘lad’, Liam even takes a prospective mate into the mens bathroom on a night out to a strip club to have his way with, protesting his girlfriend isn’t worth that much to him. However, what they do not suspect is that it is their significant others who have entered them into this competition, to show them up as complete idiots, commitment phobes, show-offs, drinkers, gamblers and any other adjective that would describe these lads-turned-tools. These men must earn a renewed respect from their significant others and be the best HAB (doesn’t sound as culturally significant the other way round, does it?) that they can be to win the grand £25,000 prize. Some of the contestants don’t take this too well, such as Jake, who instantly flies off the handle at all production crew available. Which, to be honest, I’m surprised not to see from many other of the prospective morons.
What makes this programme truly interesting/disgusting is the pattern of relationships that you see within the show. Where Big Brother started as a ‘social experiment’ of putting freaks in a house and watching the sparks fly, Tool Academy furthers by applying the same rules to a set of two morons who happen to be mating. Watching this programme adds a further dimension that BB never could: it not only makes you feel good about yourself, it allows you to look at the people you surround yourself with, and think, “well, at least they’re not complete arses either.’
The real challenge with these programmes is trying to decide which sex comes off worse. You get an extreme close up at the line-up which is designed to repulse you: the guys who drink and get stoned too much, the man who lets his girlfriend do all the work around the house, helpfully signposted with such monikers as, “Stoner Tool” and “Tipsy Tool”, you know, just so you can disassociate these people with actual problems and addictions. Liam becomes “Randy Tool”, in case people might forget that hey, that’s the prick who cheated on his girlfriend. It all kind of reminds me of 1984’s ‘newspeak’. But before you get to truly judge these men, you get to meet their WAGs, which levels the playing field somewhat. For instance, one woman enrolls her boyfriend because he doesn’t drink, yet he dances, and has a decent relationship with his mother. According to her, it makes him, ‘a bit gay’. Another trusts her fella ‘110 percent’ yet checks his texts for any sign of infidelity. The women on this programme seem to be able to find any single slight problem with their men, and are able to change them in a way they’d only previously bragged to girlfriends that they could.
While this juxtaposition is still sinking in, you get to see ‘Temper Tool’ Jake once again in full revolution mode, kicking in the door to the girls dorm to demand his girlfriend pack for a trip home. Which never comes. At the end of the first week, two get sent packing. One is too vain and arrogant, the other too obsessed with his football career. However, it only takes a 10 second apology and declaration of love to turn the significant others legs to jelly.
One thing that slightly makes me uncomfortable with this is the fact that we could never flip such a concept on its head, and have a Bitch Academy, where some of the relationship difficulties included; not being up for sex enough, not doing enough housework and putting a career before relationship (all issues raised in Tool Academy). It just all seems a bit too depraved, and however addictive a programme it may seem, we surely can’t be seen to give these people any more self-importance, can we? I mean, I’ll stop watching…after the next episode. I mean, they’ll be doing a lie detector test, and I miss Randy Tool sweating while trying to explain himself to Naive Bitch.