This year, the year of the ‘Jubilympics’, to quote Twenty Twelve, is branded as the year of making the old, new; both in the UK and worldwide, people see this potentially apocalyptic year as the one where we spice up legacy, and punch a kick of ‘je ne sais quoi’ into tradition. But this deliberate pursuit of ‘a twist on the classic’ – the most overused phrase of 2012 thus far – is already a boring overemphasised formula that has so far churned out the same kind of live’n’kickin, down-with-the-kidz ‘originality’ that sexual health adverts written in ‘txt spk’ do.
As yet there seem to be two kinds of originality being churned out for this year of ‘newness’: the slightly spruced up, but essentially unchanged, old formulas, and the ‘Heston Blumenthal’ effect. The ‘Heston Blumenthal’ – best exemplified by The Great British Menu (where chefs conjure up unmeltable jelly and a whole wedge of ice cold pork cheek to “reach unreachable heights”): a laborious attempt at mashing together the old with the psychotically newer than new. To follow the lead of a scarringly bald and nasal man, with what looks like a kid’s wire experiment wrapped around his face, is nuts.
In the other camp we have The Voice – X Factor with swivel chairs, one of which is controlled by a petulant wannabe rude girl – and Tim Burton’s new vampire film starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (the new spin is lost on me but apparently it’s there). Both old and exhausted, at least the producers can blame the recession. Also in this category is the belligerent attempt at making the royal family hip. The obvious route to sustained ‘cool’ is to put Hazza on top for real, rather than hype up his occassional moments of glory and, in the long-run, push The Telegraph’s tact in branding Kate as “the next Jackie O”. But no.
Surely, then, since we really are hell-bent on originality, we should embrace those who consistently do throw us off-course. I speak here of the media’s favourite headline-maker, Mario Balotelli. For those of you unaware of the Manchester City striker’s colourful reputation, Mario is the bulwark of unpredictability (having, among other things, attempted to spontaneously pay off all Manchester Uni library fines, put thousands of pounds behind the bar at his local, and set his house on fire in a firework evening gone astray). Consequently he’s become a figure of ridicule for the media and football fans alike.
On a serious level, this is a 21-year-old guy, in a country that is just a lot more prudeish than his own Berlusconi-run nation, on £100,000 a week at one of the top clubs in the world, and, despite maybe not reaching his full potential as a football player, has yet to miss a penalty in his whole career. Now, to lay my cards on the table: I love him, and I’m a City fan. So, my argument, though I believe strong, may hinge upon some pure, smitten bias. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s outlandish to suggest that pluck most average guys our age out of their mama’s pen and throw them into the big leagues and you’d be faced with some similarly bonkers specimen. Such humility should be lauded, but at a time when things are all pretty stale, Mario is the free spirit we need to embrace.
It has emerged that Mario, or, “Marilyn Balotelli,” likes wearing make up; something the media have grabbed onto with sharpened teeth and thrown back at him in tatters, laughing. Sure, it was during a liaison last year, while he was at least four months into his relationship with Italian model Raphaella Fico that this came out, which I’m not, despite my best efforts, going to promote. But disregard the awkward setting: why not? Chloé, 21, gave a sparkling retelling of Mario donning eyeliner, mascara, lipstick and a wig, and prancing around in front of a mirror, telling her (in what I imagine as more of an aggressive Mr T tone than a playful Marilyn Monroe one): “I look prettier than you”. Indeed, it’s not unheard of (my housemate Lev nonchalantly admitted “I do too”), and with androgyny the name of the game in fashion these days, he’s actually bang on trend.
Why not do as my other housemate did in a game of charades when he donned a glittery top in portraying Rick Santorum. Illogical? Infinitely. But why not? Why not give your Rick a sparkle and a spank? Why not do as my family did last week and substitute your average penne with a bag of Ann Summers’ finest Penis Pasta. After teaming it with the recommended ‘Steamy Balls’ sauce recipe, my father jubilantly announced: “well I haven’t had that many penises in my mouth for a long time”, and the whole family chortled into the night. Surely this is the kind of spontaneous sparkle of spruce we’re gunning for this year?