Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister was divisive, to say the least. The Telegraph might have heralded Johnson as the "DUDE" – the leader to Deliver Brexit, Unite the country, Defeat Corbyn, Energise Britain" – but your dad, never a man to mince his words, took to Twitter to denounce the man as "a tit-weasel", "an "arse-puffin" and, most damningly of all, "a total chuffing wank-badger". It's hard to see how Johnson will ever come back from this.
Despite the range of opposing opinions on display, there was one thing that brought people together across the political divide: saying really, really stupid and annoying things on Twitter. Here is a run-down of the worst of them. If this is the level of banter we can expect to enjoy throughout Johnson's leadership, then may God have mercy on our souls.
The Tweet That Owned Boris Johnson By Depicting Him as a Bloody Good Laugh
Boris Johnson becoming prime minister is bad news. But not because he's a right-wing politician with a track record of racism, misogyny and homophobia. The real reason is that (from left to right): he got stuck in a zip-wire; he made a funny face while throwing a ball of some kind; he made a different – but equally funny! – face while playing tennis; and he once held up a fish at a press conference. All of which should have seen him barred from office.
These types of jokes are so grating because, rather than attacking Johnson, they play into an image that he himself has painstakingly curated. It's in his interests that we think of him as an affable clown. It's a persona that has served him well – and Have I Got News for You, which Johnson hosted on four separate occasions, is partly responsible for this.
As novelist Jonathan Coe writes, in an LRB essay on the failures of modern satire, "these appearances cemented the public image of him as a lovable, self-mocking buffoon... Boris Johnson has nothing to fear from public laughter at all... If we are chuckling at him, we are not likely to be thinking too hard about his doggedly neoliberal and pro-City agenda."
Instead of writing stupid little tweets, Have I Got News for You should take a long, hard look in the mirror and think about what they’ve done.
The Tweet That Compared Britain to Alcoholics and Boris Johnson to Paint Stripper
Those alcoholics, eh? Cackling with deranged laughter as the house burns down – presumably with their children still trapped inside! But they don’t care, you see, because they're too caught up in the famously great banter of hitting rock bottom. In many ways, when you think about it, that's pretty similar to Britain's history of denying its colonialism and the recent appointment of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. It is, actually. It's exactly the same.
Oh wait, no. In fact, it's an unbelievably crass analogy. In order to validate my initial outrage, I spoke to someone who works for an addiction charity, who asked to remain anonymous.
"It's a terrible analogy," he said, "based on a tired old trope about 'rock bottom', which has no basis in science and discourages people from asking for help. The idea that 'we tried to help him but he had to reach rock bottom first' – it's really terrible advice. This analogy also demonises people who have drinking problems in a way that would be totally unacceptable if it were about mental health."
If you can’t make the point "Boris Johnson is bad" (perhaps one of the easiest arguments it's possible to make) without stigmatising people with addiction issues, then maybe the "incisive political analogies" game isn't for you. Please, I beg you: just call him a cunt and go.
The Tweet Purportedly Written By a Cat
Nothing a cat has ever done, no photograph or anecdote, has ever been even slightly amusing. All cats are boring and completely charmless. Especially yours. Larry the Downing Street cat is no exception. The concept of an adult spending their free time impersonating an animal in order to make sub-Radio 4 panel-show jibes about British politics – truly sinister stuff. Even more chilling is the fact that 8,000 people saw someone imply that a cat dislikes Boris Johnson and, after pausing to wipe away a tear of laughter, clicked "retweet".
If it was a Twitter account from the perspective of a dog that lived at Downing Street, on the other hand, that would be absolutely hilarious. Can you imagine? I'm chuckling at the very concept!
Any of the Many Tweets That Imply the Queen Is Either Sassy or Left-Wing
By constitutional law, the Queen has to remain neutral when it comes to political matters. We simply don't know her stance, and speculating on it is probably classed as treason. But she's hardly going to be a raging Corbynista, is she? I can't imagine she reads Novara or subscribes to any of your friends' leftist podcasts. I would imagine, on account of her being both a multimillionaire and a hereditary monarch, that she's more on the Tory end of the spectrum. But if I'm mistaken, Your Highness, I will gladly issue a grovelling public apology!
And yet, so many people persist in the fantasy that the Queen is quietly outraged at having to meet right-wing politicians. Trump's recent state visit, for instance, occasioned a series of truly bizarre conspiracy theories which held that the Queen was "throwing shade". The Queen snapped! She just did it in a manner so subtle as to be literally imperceptible.
As with Trump's visit, the "poor Queen!" tweets were out in force this week. I have to agree: being forced to anoint an Old Etonian must have offended Her Royal Highness Elizabeth II's sense of social justice to its very core. And imagine having to spend time with a bumbling idiot prone to racist gaffes – how awful for her!
The Tweet That Encouraged Outright, No-Holds-Barred REVOLUTION
Wearing a T-shirt in celebration of a neoliberal politician barely two notches to the left of Boris Johnson? Now that's what I call a small act of rebellion that will get us through this!
As acts of rebellion go, this is indeed very small. Infinitesimal, some might say. Barely even existent. But I do find this tweet kind of endearing. Fuck him up, Mary! Maybe tomorrow you can bring an Angela Merkel tote bag to work.
The Tweet That Celebrated Boris Johnson's Success as a Victory for all Journalists Everywhere
On one hand, it really is inspiring to think that some eager young journo, while writing clickbait based on a Tesco press release, glanced up at Johnson's inauguration speech on the office TV and thought, with a small, determined smile, 'Yes... one day, that will be me.'
But on the other, journalists are not an oppressed group, nor do they need any further inspiration to be status-obsessed careerists. So actually, this is incredibly fucking stupid.
The takeaway message is that everyone on Twitter is, and will continue to be, really annoying. The only solution is to log off, but, sadly, that is the one thing that I will never do. And as much as you might like to kid yourself, neither will you.
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.