This week a video was vomited out by a PR firm and considering it had the full weight of The Sun behind it and featuring as it did YouTubers with a collective reach of nearly six million subscribers, I fully expected it to be everywhere. It wasn’t.
I’m sure it did decent figures and achieved its main objective, which was to encourage a multitude of punters to sign up for the tabloid’s Dream Team FC fantasy football game, but on social media at least, it kind of announced itself with the spluttered apology of Hugh Hefner on his wedding night. This was both a blessing and a curse.
It was a blessing because the ad – entitled ‘Too Many YouTubers’ and starring Adam from Full Time Devils, Robbie from Arsenal Fan TV, the Wealdstone Raider, football freestylers F2, a couple of lads who are freakishly good at FIFA, and a band of YouTube phenomena known as the Sidemen – is an absolute abomination of cringe and arguably the most compelling argument that humanity is doomed since Michael Buerk talked directly through the television screen to Bob Geldof in 1984.
Haven’t seen it yet? Then prepare to shiver, but not in a good way. You’re probably best taking your trainers off too because your toes will curl so far beneath you they’ll be seeking sanctuary by your heels.
It is Anchorman with a ten grand budget. Nuts magazine writ large. Epic bantz by individuals who presumably once had integrity (well so long to that) aimed at office workers with Jason Statham box-sets. In fact, I’ll tell you exactly who it’s aimed at – interns called Simon who head out on a Friday evening in their mum-ironed Burton shirt and think they’re all gangster with their crew after having three Kronenberg.
It is bad, just so, so bad yet the sheer awfulness of the ad is almost by-the-by, as too – to an extent – is the fact that lads who make a living from football have willingly sold out to a newspaper that doesn’t exactly have the best track record in their treatment of supporters and all for a further sliver of fame.
What turns this ROONEY!LOCKSTOCK!CHEEKYNANDOS!FOOTBALL! slice of mortifying cobblers into the realms of the downright offensive – what makes it a curse that more people didn’t witness it – occurs when F2 appear from nowhere trying to decapitate KSI from the Sidemen.
Jeremy Lynch, one half of the famed freestyling duo, says “It’s time to rabona you”.
The pair each aim a freshly produced gun.
KSI – real name Olajide Olatunji – looks momentarily disgusted. He is not remotely frightened at the sight of two guns being pointed in his direction but is reacting to something infinitely more horrific. He screws his face up and replies, “Ugh, you want to rub my boner?”
To which F2 visibly panic, the kind of panic akin to admitting to your mates that you rate Andy Carroll higher than Harry Kane. Or in this instance maybe that you like his legs better. You know, a not very LAD thing.
“It’s not gay,” Lynch insists.
No, it’s not. Just like it’s not 1975 and such puerile homophobia is no longer tolerated in our media. Tolerated? Add to that no longer seen, heard or said. Seriously, what the holy hell are they thinking?
Right on cue though, John Inman from Are You Being Served? pops up in full seventies gaiety to announce that he’s free. Sorry, I got confused. It’s actually FIFA Interactive World Cup Finalist Dave Bytheway asking “Did somebody mention gamers?” but the echo from our grim comedy past is uncanny.
Do you get it? The first part of ‘gamers’ when spoken out loud is ‘gay’. Brilliant.
If the cop-out of this is an internet viral where perhaps the parameters of taste can be broadened to allow such childish irreverence, featuring individuals who have thrived on their arrested development, then I’m simply not buying it.
This, let’s not forget, is an advert for Britain’s second best-selling national newspaper and starring a group of lads who have millions of subscribers who avidly watch their every move and hang off every word. We know this last part because they never waste a single opportunity to tell us so. Like pop stars boasting of how big they are in Japan or Gordon down the golf club bragging of his colossal earnings this quarter. Their constant self-hype reeks of insecurity, but the fact is you can’t have your proverbial cake and eat it boys.
You are no longer outsiders: By your own reckoning you are the mainstream. Therefore mainstream rules apply and making infantile jokes about homosexuality – with the clear allusion that it is far more disconcerting to be chatted up by someone of your own gender than have a gun aimed at your face or to be alarmed if someone wrongly believes you are gay – is just staggeringly ill-judged or, worse yet, unforgivably intolerant.
All else aside, way to alienate a sizable part of your audience.
As for The Sun, where do I start except to ask why it is always them and should any of us be at all surprised? It is safe to say they have form when it comes to mean-spirited bigotry but even so there is something particularly depressing about this latest example.
Perhaps it’s that the spiteful old media have managed to coerce the new savvy media into becoming their mouthpiece for cruelty and division simply by waving a few tenners around and pandering to their egos. Yeah, perhaps it’s that.
The film is called Too Many YouTubers, which is not strictly true. There is just too little thought.