We're not as in control as we confidently tell ourselves, which is the great irony. It is possible for the alpha-dogs to understand this concept and do something proactive about it, but that's like trying to teach a kid to read - they feel they have better things to do with their time. He who has the gold makes the rules, etc; it's a limbic thing.
Caught last month with his hand down the back of a colleauge’s trousers, Andrew Marr, lanky journalist and political commentator, has illustrated himself as “a clever ape in a spot of bother”. This alcohol fuelled ass-grabbing seems to be a timely misdemeanor amid a series of surfacing BBC groping allegations. Is Marr’s reasoning that “we are homo sapiens” enough to excuse him from his adulterous actions? Does it justify the on-air gropings that Sandi Toksvig and DJ Liz Kershaw brought to light last week? What, to push this to its natural conclusion, about the late Jimmy Saville and the recent accusations of paedophilia?
Like it or not, the truth is that humans are ‘clever apes’. Humans are clever; we discovered how to use tools to our advantagen and make fire, we developed money and commerce, discovered chemistry, industralised our world, invented the atomic bomb and computers. As Andrew Marr says, indtroducing his new BBC documentary, Andrew Marr’s History of the World, “we have been brilliantly clever at reshaping the world around us, almost as clever as we think we are, though not perhaps as wise.”
Even if our world is unrecognizable from 70,000 years ago, humanity’s animal instincts (primarily our sexual ones) have remained firmly embedded within our nature. The fact that we are evolved from apes by no means justifies the legality or morality of Jimmy Saville’s pedophilia or of other celebrities unwanted gropings, but it sure does explain their cause.
A recent response to Andrew Marr’s southerly stretching arm on the Daily Mail unwittingly reaffirms Marr’s ‘we’re only human’ defence: “‘The BBC’s standards are slipping……Wasn’t Janet Ellis thrown off Blue Peter because she was an unmarried mother !! Yet this MARRIED man has been caught playing away, yet still holds a prime time slot on a Sunday morning……How times are a changing.”
Times are changing; exactly. Coming to terms with our human nature has been a battle with the British stiff upper lip since the fall of the Roman Empire and Christianity became the accepted religion. Sex was suddenly for procreation – what a way to suck the fun out of it. The liberal ‘no strings attached’ Roman attitude dissolved until the cultural revolution in the 1960s. The Daily Mail commenter illuminates how, in the 21st century, a cheeky, drunk ass-grabbing does not undermine personal achievements. For the BBC even to bother commenting on Marr’s actions would highlight an outdated attitude to sexual liberation, and being as PC as they come, the BBC are unlikely to be dubbed as sexually backward if they were to condemn Marr’s mistake.
When celebrities like Marr slip up, the media has a field day. Everyone goes around on their moral high-horse asking ‘Why oh why would they do such a thing?’ What we fail to admit is that everyone knows why these people make mistakes; our ape like nature takes over our modern way of thinking and our wisdom fails us in favour of instinct. It’s easier to berate public icons and put them beneath the public’s morality, than admit they are our mistake-making equals. Marr’s ‘clever ape’ statement is intelligent and insightful. It is exactly what the media and public do not want to hear; they want an apology and acknowledgment of his irresponsible and terrible behaviour in order to denounce him as a pathetic adulterer. Instead his excuse is ultimately savvy and witty.
One up to Andrew Marr.
Main photo: Fashionbyhe
Marr photo: Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας