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Home > Culture and Society

House of twats

18 December 2004

Recently Madame Tussauds, the famous purveyor of wax-based entertainment, decided to celebrate Christmas with a recreation of the nativity scene, featuring the Beckhams as Joseph and Mary and Jeanette Krankie as the baby Jesus.

Actually we made the last bit up, but the truth isn't much less strange. Tony Blair, George Bush and the Duke of Edinburgh became the three wise men, while various other (wax) celebrities took on other roles, including Kylie Minogue as an angel, though sadly not Simon Cowell as God.

Like us, you're probably quite puzzled about the meaning of all this. Is it some subversive comment on our celebrity-obsessed age, with an adulterous footballer and a crap singer quite literally taking on religious significance? Is it a powerful piece of political satire, with three notorious idiots replacing the wise men?

Apparently not. After complaints from Catholic church and a bit of mild criticism from the good old wishy washy Church of England, a Madame Tussauds spokeswoman was prompted to say: 'The vast majority of people have taken it in the spirit in which it is intended - a bit of festive fun.'

What, you might wonder, is wrong with that?

Well, everything. For a start, there's the fact that Madame Tussauds exists. If you've never been to Madame Tussauds, spare yourself an underwhelming experience.

First, there's the utter pointlessness of looking at copies of things you're already familiar with, eg. Madonna. You wouldn't pay to see a copy of your own bedroom, would you? This conceptual void is compounded by the fact that none of the waxworks look quite like who they're meant to. You know it's Madonna, but it's not quite Madonna. So what you've actually done is to pay to see something that doesn't even look like something you don't need to see anyway. This isn't a tourist attraction, it's grifting.

Not content with merely existing, Madame Tussauds then decides to pander to society's dismal obsession with celebrities. Haven't we seen enough of, say, Elton John already? You may like his music, but do you really want to go and stare at a slightly grotesque, bad-tempered old queen? Made of wax? (And before the pedants write in: yes, we know it's not really wax but some space-age wax substitute. It's just easier to type 'wax' than 'Biphenylpolycarbofluoropropylene'.)

Then there's the actual Beckham nativity. It's not so much that it's sacrilegious (which it is), it's just crass. Even if it's completely made up, the nativity is a story with significance. It's about the birth of a divine child who later dies horribly to save mankind. Who do Madame Tussauds choose to tell this momentous story? A squeaky-voiced simpleton, his vain, gormless bim of a wife and Charlene off Neighbours. Classy. It's like recreating the assassination of JFK using a waxwork Bobby Davro. With Orville the Duck as Lee Harvey Oswald.

The nativity scene attracted a wholly predictable 'storm' of mock outrage from the tabloids. In the Daily Mirror, TFT favourite Tony 'Armchair Warrior' Parsons managed to come up with a familiar angle:

'Why is Christianity the only religion that it is OK to openly mock?' bleats the vermin-faced one.

He goes on to ask (using a 'dummies' gag the second of three times): 'Would the dummies at Madame Tussauds be quite so blithe about insulting Islam?'

Oh say what you mean Tony, you little shit. The UK is overrun with self-loathing liberals and Muslims get preferential treatment. There. We've said it for you, but can't you change the fucking record? Every columnist in the tabloids only seems to have one point to make these days, and it's 'This country's going to the dogs because of political correctness.' And somehow Parson's outrage would be a bit more convincing if it wasn't coming from an atheist ex-punk hopping on the latest right-wing bandwagon. (Tomorrow in the Mirror: Why the EU wants to ban YOUR great British banger, by The Exploited.)

The story of the Beckham nativity neatly sums up a number of dismal aspects of modern Britain, with our twin obsessions of celebrity and football, endless crass publicity stunts, insincere outrage, rightwing press and general aversion to anything deep or meaningful. And as if to celebrate that other great British pastime, this week the waxwork Beckhams got vandalised.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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