Saturday, 26 May 2012
Ireland and Jedward: A strange kind of relationship.
In the words of Russell Brand, "Do any of you have a friend that, y'know, you fucking hate?" Indeed, I feel this quote best sums up Ireland's strange relationship with Jedward. We spawned them, our society moulded them, we are indirectly responsible for their actions.
So we feel a burden of obligation, an obligation to protect them and reassure them. But we don't exactly like them. We tolerate them. If you can imagine the entire nation of Ireland as a moody, teenage girl and Jedward as a hyper-active, boisterous, overly-genial younger brother, then you can perhaps visualise the aberrant relationship we have with the blonde-quiffed boyos from Lucan. We don't really like 'em, and we'll knock 'em but anyone who's not one of us who lays even a mere finger on their delicate, well polished and unblemished heads will have hell to pay.
A lot of the ambivalence surrounding our strange relationship with Jedward stems from our suspicion of them. Our distrust of their characters. For starters, we don't really know what they are. They're not Irish. Well not traditional, pale-skinned, Guinness-drinking, Daniel O'Donnell-listening Irish. No,they're far too happy and flamboyant for that to be the case. But are they new Irish? Are they a product of Celtic Tiger Ireland with their happy-go-lucky nature, American(ish) accents and incessant use of the term "Oh my god"? Maybe. Their overly convivial public performances have left many to question whether their demeanour is exaggerated or even put on.
"It's all for the money!" is commonly claimed by Irish folk when assessing Jedward's overzealous behaviour. I would be inclined to agree. I'm sure Jedward are quite excitable chaps with a proclivity for weirdness and hyperactivity but come here, take a peek at their X Factor audition. They weren't exactly subdued but they weren't half as ostensibly mental as they are now.
Would I blame them though? No, not really. They know their market and they/their management are savvy enough to pander to the needs and wants of that market (Teenage girls is that market in case you're wondering. And maybe paedophiles too.). In fact, their contrived acts of eccentricity have actually gained them respect from the ordinary folk of Ireland as many of them see Jedward as shrewd and wise to exploit themselves for monetary gain. The Lucan twins are worth £2m. Who wouldn't act like an eejit for £2m?
We do feel a sense of responsibility for them too though. The big sister-little brother syndrome I alluded to earlier is a rather apt analogy. I can relate to it on a personal level.
Let me take you way back to November 2009 when Jedward first impinged on the public's collective consciousness with their 'performances' on the X Factor. I loathed them. They annoyed me, they couldn't sing, they couldn't dance and I just didn't get them. I wanted them out. They had glided seamlessly through the first few weeks of live shows and it was difficult to see their popularity waning.
Then, around week 5 I believe, the buck was up. They were plonked into the bottom two along with the obviously more talented Lucie Jones from Wales. "This is it", I grinned to myself "It's down to the judges, no way Cowell and co. will save them." When it was crunch-time and the judges were about to make their decisions, I felt a strange sense of emptiness. It was like, this is really it. They're gone forever (Back then, nobody could foresee their popularity lasting for more than a few months). I wanted them to stay. They say you don't miss a good thing 'til it's gone and boy that's how it felt. And then Cowell opted to put their fate in the hands of the public vote. I was flabbergasted. Cowell seemed to hate them(In hindsight, he may have hated them but he fucking adored the amount of attention they garnered). I was flabbergasted but I was jubilant. I knew they'd win the public vote. And win they did.
From then on in the competition my sense of responsibility and caring towards them merely grew. Each week the chorus off boos which greeted their arrival on stage grew and this merely strengthened the hold they had on me. I felt protective of my compatriots. When they were eventually knocked out I felt proud of them and happy that they had had their fifteen minutes of fame. "They can go back to Lucan now and regale their pals with juicy stories about Chezza and Dannii and celebs they've met whilst casually slipping back into anonymity." Except that's not exactly how it worked out. Their fame never waned. Neither did the public's puzzling infatuation with them. And so they began to irritate me once again. And so I began, like much of the Irish population, to scald them and mock them once again....
But that lingering feeling of ownership, that teensy weensy sense of responsibility never wavered either. A lot of the Irish public see Jedward as freaks but in true family-like fashion, we see them as our freaks. Why else would we send them to the Eurovision twice, eh?