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30th Oct 2018

I watched Strictly for the first time and found it to be the leading cause of humanity’s demise

What do people that refer to it as 'Strictly' do with all the spare time they're saving?

Ciara Knight

What do people that refer to it as ‘Strictly’ do with all the spare time they’re saving?

Now in its 16th series, I have wasted approximately zero time in joining the masses and jumping on board the Strictly train. Choo-choo! Destination: light, inoffensive entertainment.

Going into this ambitious experiment, I knew very little about the show. “Just celebrities dancing, isn’t it?”, I remarked to a colleague, who swiftly informed me that although that was the premise, it’s also “good” and “funny”. Conscious that I was unlikely to share the same feelings, I set about watching my very first episode of Strictly Come Dancing.

I went with the most recent episode (Series 16, week 6), eager to remain with my finger eternally on the pulse of current pop culture content.

What did I learn from my foray into everyone’s Mum’s favourite television show? So, so much. Perhaps, too much.

As a society, we’re putting great value on irrelevant things, rather than what really matters (such as being able to wolf whistle without your hands)

Yes, dancing is a very cool thing to be able to do. You can use this skill at a wedding, during a flashmob or at some other kind of dance gathering, perhaps if you want to join Diversity. But on the whole, is it a hugely important skill to have in everyday life? So much so that we should be subjecting celebrities to the intricacies of learning how to dance for the sake of some short-lived televisual entertainment? Personally, and I fully acknowledge that I may be in the severe minority here, I’d much rather see these celebrities mastering something that’s a vital life skill, such as wolf whistling without their hands.

Have you ever been at a sporting event and overheard a piercingly-loud whistle? It pulls you out of whatever high-stakes tension you’re watching unfold and you’re instantly confronted with your own shortcomings as a person. Why can’t I do a wolf whistle? You put your grubby little fingers in your mouth, trying amplify your pathetic everyday whistle sound. But hang on, this guy isn’t even using his hands. He’s making this, at a guess 4000dB, sound without any outside intervention. Some people really just have it all. Celebrities allegedly don’t fall under that category, but there’s only one way we can find out. Strictly Come Wolf-Whistling Without Your Hands 2019.

Humanity has become so extensively lazy, we’re employing time-saving techniques in areas that don’t even require it

What do people that refer to it simply as ‘Strictly‘ do with all the spare time they’re saving? Catch up on sleep? Write a handy guide of other abbreviated British TV show titles such as ‘Stenders’, ‘Caz’ (Casualty), ‘Bala’ (Balamory) and ‘TG’ (Top Gear or The Game (of Thrones)). Or are they simply adopting everyday efficiency practices for the sake of being cool? Nobody wants to be see to be a square, calling them THE Arctic Monkeys or taking off their shoes unprompted when entering a friend’s house. Everyone is crippled with the inherent desire to seem very cool and chill at all times.

I timed myself saying ‘Strictly’ and it took .30 of a second. I then timed myself saying ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and it took 0.56 of a second. So there’s a saving of half a second here. Over a prolonged period, that could add up to a whole minute. But what are you going to do with that minute? Refresh Twitter or watch the Instagram story of a girl you used to work with who’s obsessed with leopard print clothes this season? We’re all just killing time until the inevitability of our impending mortality catches up with us. Give Strictly its full title, FFS. Stop being a lazy sod.

There’s no point in being the best at anything because you’re still going to be subjected to critique from unqualified morons

The professional dancers on SCD are, I would’ve thought, immune to any critique. They’re teaching the celebrities how to dance, basically taking a virgin piece of snow and turning it into an elaborate igloo. But when the couples perform their dance routines, it was alarming to hear the judges throwing a few rogue “You could tighten up a bit as well, pal” with regards to their performances. They’re professionally trained dancers. This is their literal job and they’re still getting shit for it from a panel of reality television judges. I don’t know their individual qualifications, but politeness certainly isn’t one of them, am I right?

It felt familiar, watching these dancers getting unwarranted abuse. For example, when you write anything on the internet, you’re somehow leaving it wide open for public discourse, free to be ridiculed by Tim from Torquay, a man whose diet consists solely of chicken dippers and burger sauce (a mixture of mayo and ketchup, unbeknownst to him). It doesn’t matter how accomplished or qualified you are to do something, you’ll still have to hear shit about it once it enters the public domain. Never do anything, basically. Sink into obscurity. Read books. Eat cheesecake. Never strive for better. Die alone. Be happy.

Not everyone has the same aptitude for learning a new craft and excelling in it

Forget dancing, that’s too obvious. It seems to be widely regarded that people can act. You pretend to be someone else, or a heightened version of yourself, and that’s it, job’s a good’un. After years of witnessing awkward corporate social media content, we all need to accept that this is not the case. Like when a multinational corporation decides to up their social media game, getting Anita from accounts roped in for their latest advertising campaign, telling the general public that her company is “the best place to work”, with all the conviction of a robot maintenance repair man being held at gunpoint.

For some reason, before completing their dance, the Strictly contestants take part in a short segment which follows how they got on with training during the week. This involves an incredibly awkward skit that, in the case of every performance I saw during the show, was an absolute dud. Some celebrity doctor had to pretend there was a monster under his bed, another girl had to get into the TARDIS and travel forward in time to dance night, where the judges berated her performance. What does this add to the show? Everyday people cannot act, that is why there are professional actors doing that job. Vice versa, actors cannot dance. Skills aren’t transferable. If they were, we would all be Leonardo DiCaprio or Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Our minds have become so fragile, we need to be reminded of recent events at embarrassingly regular intervals

How long is the average attention span in 2018? I tried to Google that, but my phone got a notification as I was doing so, and I never finished the task. That is not a joke, just a wonderful coincidence. Scientific evidence isn’t required to inform us that attention spans have gone to filth. Television show producers know that, especially the Strictly ones. Particularly during the results show, there’s a recap every few minutes, reminding viewers of who danced like trash on the night, and drilling home the phone numbers required for voting for your favourite contestants. We get it. We’ve seen television shows before.

Why is this? Are they, like us, trying to kill time until the sweet release of death arrives? Or is this what standard public practice has been reduced to? We need constant reminding to wipe our bottoms, to continue to inhale and exhale for a regular air supply, even vote for a meaningless reality television show. Strictly Come Dancing is adding to the decimation of our attention spans, but at least it’s doing it with an abundance of sequins and jazz hands, not like, say, The £100k Drop (formerly The Million Pound Drop, but, you know, Brexit) where they do it all without even so much as a sashay.

You can dedicate all of your efforts trying really hard at something, but still end up with absolutely nothing to show for it at the end of the day

One of the couples got sent home at the end of the results show. After getting my head around the idea of there needing to be two separate shows, one where they dance and one where they find out if they danced well enough, I was able to process the unfolding situation. Once a couple finds out that they’re leaving, they enter the dance floor area for a final dance, but it’s completely unprepared and it’s exceptional viewing.

I watched a professional dancer and a guy that’s been learning how to dance for weeks regress to being Bambi experiencing walking on ice for the first time. They were goofy, uncoordinated and avoiding standing on each others’ toes the whole time, eventually rescued by their fellow aspirational dancers for a congratulatory hug. When the bells and whistles were stripped away, there was nothing left. Neither knew how to dance together without a choreographed routine. They spent weeks developing a bond and learning how to dance together, but instantly forgot everything they knew when it ended. This proves that it’s not worth your time learning anything new because you’ll just forget it when it’s needed the most. Life is a bottomless pit of suffering and despair. Strictly Come Dancing is a lie and fully responsible for humanity’s demise. Still, not a bad show though.