Well, the big ol’ world leader David Cameron got caught doing something bad. But more accurately, he got caught doing something so unspeakably transgressive it’d make Bret Easton Ellis put his pen down and go for a nice walk in a nice park in a nice autumnal sweater. He got so caught that people who have never seen an Englishman now have an idea who he is and can put a face to the name.
Or, at any rate, he got accused of doing it once, a long time ago, in an unauthorized biography, which is much worse. An unauthorized biography is more lurid. Everyone assumes lurid things are true (like how all Kennedy stories have become true), and if it’s in a book, they assume there’s more (like how we’re not out of Kennedy stories somehow). The horrible revelation is just the snowball that starts an avalanche, and many more horrible revelations are soon to come. More transgression. More things that can be called abominations without hyperbole.
So what’s ol’ Dave to do? How does he get out from under the shadow of his [UNSPEAKABLE ABOMINATION]?
The PR agents and spin doctors have been crawling out of the woodwork with professional opinions, of course. You can guess what they might say. Cop and vanish. Let it play out and run its course, which it will in America by Thanksgiving, or maybe Halloween if Halloween is really kickass this year. And that’s quite possible. Halloween’s on a Saturday this year. Their advice is all fine and road-hardened. But I have better advice.
Why is it better? Because I have the one thing the PR suits don’t have: uneducated advice. Uneducated advice has no baggage. It can be passed off as uncompromised genius, or at least convey the aw-shucks universal moral truth of a bad Frank Capra character.
And here’s what I see right now. David Cameron is now a disgusting person to a whole bunch of people who until a week ago thought England was run by either Tony Blair or that Prince Charles caricature from The Simpsons. He not only has the stigma brought on anyone who engages in old-timey paganism, but he has a whole base of people who only know him for old-timey paganism.
But Dave can beat this. Here’s what he has to do: normalize and trivialize. He should own up to his sin immediately. But where us sharks want an apology in the form of all his limbs deep-fried on a plate, he should leave us hanging by acting like his actions only scratched the surface of some dark and ancient institutional evil.
It’s what people want to believe anyway. Everybody wants a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top. We all want every long-standing institution that brokers in societal power, known and unknown, to be riddled with perversion. It lets us feel morally superior, so our powerlessness can be confused and mixed up with comparative virtuousness.
So he should give that to us, because the only alternative is camera-friendly self-destruction theatrics. He should make things up about Skull and Bones. Make things up about Harvard and Yale and Oxford and all of the places where latently powerful kids become powerful adults. Allude to rituals he only got to hear about secondhand because they were for even higher-ranking would-be leaders than him. He should say this exact phrase in a low and conspiratorial whisper:
“You think it stops here? No. You have no idea. You have no idea what happens.”
He can’t just come out and say the Bilderberg Group opens all their meetings with Gregorian chanting and blood sacrifices, and he can’t just come out and say what Skull and Bones does before they really party. He has to plant those ideas in our heads with a lot of pregnant suggestion, a lot of knowing glances alluding to The Things We Don’t Say. He needs to make the most terrifying night at Studio 54 look like a Norman Rockwell painting. He needs to make the Viper Room look like a Presbyterian church in Minnesota.
If he does it well enough, if he looks scared and repulsed by the real systemic perversion of the world’s power hierarchy, then he’ll be home free. His little awful thing will become fraternity hijinks, a college rich boy who got in over his head. It trivializes his actions. By changing the narrative frame, he becomes a mere laughing stock, and that’s suddenly fine. He ceases to be the man who [UNSPEAKABLE ABOMINATION] and becomes the man who, aw, gee, what a Boy Scout, all he did was [UNSPEAKABLE ABOMINATION]. And from where I’m standing, well, that’s a better place to be. I think Dave Cameron’s gonna be alright. Until the pictures come out, anyway.
[Post image via Shutterstock]