herald

Monday 25 September 2017

SPATTER

Oh God, it's happened -- I've morphed into the Maggie Smith character from Downton Abbey.

The news that an able-bodied 19-year-old woman can't use a knife and fork has shocked me.

It brought on my 'what's a weekend?' moment, the phrase sniffily uttered by Lady Grantham to describe the yawning chasm between the generations.

When I say Nikita of Tallafornia 'fame' can't use a knife and fork, I'm not talking about her doing something fancy with them.

Just the usual -- knife in right hand to cut food, fork in left hand to hold food steady on plate, and then fork brought to mouth with bite-sized morsels on board.

Simple.

The revelation about Nikita's lack of skill in this department exercised a group of us (30 and 40-somethings) more than if we'd been treated to energetic sex frolics by the Tallafornia folks (though we're promised that's in store).

But the two women with whom Nikita was dining in the restaurant on Friday's programme, didn't exactly fall off their seats in shock at her lack of familiarity with cutlery.

It could have been great manners on their part.

Or it could have been that they thought it was no big deal.

But it is a big deal.

It is a huge deal that a young woman doesn't have the skill to enjoy the fundamental pleasure of eating in a social setting.

It means she can't feel entirely comfortable going out with friends or on a date to a restaurant.

Or socialising with work colleagues or, God forbid, work clients when there's food involved.

It's about being able to enjoy a wedding without fearing you'll spatter your food on the bride's mother.

Or a Christening lunch at which the children present have better table manners than you.

So why does this jar more than the unpleasant narcissism of the characters on the show? The men's obsession with their bodies and the girls' with their appearance, and the tacky playing out of sexual jealousies?

Perhaps it's because we suspect they're hamming this up for the cameras.

They're mostly from a generation raised on reality shows for which casual sexual couplings, constant chatter about who'd do what to who and general coarseness are the stuff of which 'stars' are made.



OUTRAGEOUS

Saying stupid things, being 'outrageous' and putting yourself out there sexually are par for the course if you want to get yourself noticed.

The camera isn't interested in the pretty young thing who reads quietly in the corner. To be in with a shot of getting attention, you have to act up.

So the viewer can put aside any concerns about exploitation, safe in the knowledge that these mad young things are just having a bit of crack.

Except, not being able to use a knife and fork is not acting.

And if this is 'real', maybe all of the other stuff is too.

hnews@herald.ie

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