I looked at him, lost in astonishment. There he was before me, in motley, as though he had absconded from a troupe of mimes, enthusiastic, fabulous. His very existence was improbable, inexplicable, and altogether bewildering. He was an insoluble problem. It was inconceivable how he had existed, how he had succeeded in getting so far, how he had managed to remain — why he did not instantly disappear. […] The glamour of youth enveloped his particoloured rags, his destitution, his loneliness, the essential desolation of his futile wanderings. For months — for years — his life hadn’t been worth a day’s purchase; and there he was gallantly, thoughtlessly alive, to all appearance indestructible solely by the virtue of his few years and of his unreflecting audacity. I was seduced into something like admiration — like envy.Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”
Mr Blobby has returned to our screens. Out of the wilderness, long thought discontinued, but now back. And I am glad.
Mr Blobby may not be the revolutionary figure that we want, but he is the figure that we need.
On This Morning, ITV’s offensively innocuous breakfast TV show, during a segment about the reality TV show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, presenters Philip Schofield and Rochelle Humes were accosted by the blob whilst discussing — with Maggie Philbin — Noel Edmonds‘ prospects as he takes part in the Australia-based “jungle” show, in which a group of celebrities must survive in a contrived wilderness by doing gross-out tasks and not being “voted out”.
Blobby was introduced as an old friend of Noel’s — his best friend even — which he undoubtedly is: his infamous partner-in-crime from his 1990s heyday on the Saturday night TV sensation Noel’s House Party. Who better to comment on his jungle prospects than him? However, Blobby was not a mere blast from the past. He emerged from backstage timeless. He hadn’t aged a day.
Confused? Don’t worry. The people and their context are irrelevant. They are mere background noise to the return of Blobby. Although, that being said, it was fitting that Blobby should reappear as Edmonds entered the irreality of the celebrity jungle. Who better to represent the truth of the environ in which Edmonds now found himself? As Rochelle Humes joked, perhaps there is no better preparation for the “Jungle” than spending an extensive amount of time with Mr Blobby.
The spatial intensity of an actual jungle is absent from I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! It is presented to participant and viewer through the enclosed quasi-studio representation of culinary horrors or glorified adventure-playground spelunking. This is not a Real jungle. The “Jungle” of I’m a Celebrity… has rules; boundaries. The celebs exist, supposedly at risk from the elements, but nonetheless protected from the world of the non-famous. The Jungle of the Real has no rules. It cares not who you are. It is a lawless energetic expanse. It is a natural anarchitecture. It is Blobby.
Blobby is the last remaining television junglist. He is a mutant; an anarchic mess of desiring-disruption. His violence is in his ineptitude, his inability to conform to the burgeoning sense of neoliberal propriety that was to take hold of the entire nation in orbit of those years when he was first conceived. As such, we might think of Blobby as the national unconscious of this infamously repressed isle, masochistically let loose on ourselves, at the very moment it was to be neutered — for good? Blobby was the last great cultural horror that our nation produced. And we loved him. We needed him.
We still need Mr Blobby today. Perhaps now more than ever.
Writing for The New York Times in 1994, Elizabeth Kolbert notes:
Some commentators have called [Mr Blobby] a metaphor for a nation gone soft in the head. Others have seen him as proof of Britain’s deep-seated attraction to trash. Mr. Blobby “is not some aberration of taste but an intrinsic part of British culture,” one columnist wrote in The Sunday Times of London, adding, “But it’s not the part we like to boast about, especially around the Americans.”
Blobby is the spectre of an unconscious not watched over by a globalist superego. He is not “trash” but a working class hero, unbound from the cultural trappings of bourgeois capture. He is a libidinal entity unleashed upon the bourgeoisie. This was demonstrated most clearly in Blobby’s encounter with Hyacinth Bucket of Keeping Up Appearances — a sitcom about the futile pretensions and inauthenticities of the British petite bourgeoisie. Blobby is the one true authentic being, unrestricted by the oppressions of our micropolitical niceties.
Of course Blobby is not the hero that we boast about. He represents everything we seek to repress: our all-too-human nature. And of course it has been the media class that has long sought to repress him. He is their Frankenstein’s monster, birthed to the masses, and they have been repulsed by the love he received for his chaos, pulling down the curtain, the illusion of their over-scripted and airbrushed lives.
They perhaps intended Blobby to be a warning, a caricature, but he has instead become an icon.
In this way, Blobby is a Lovecraftian mirroring of the self with his Cthulhic stature reduced. He nonetheless remains both king and jester in the court of the symbolic order. To look upon him is to recognise the best of our unconscious qualities — our desires, loves, enthusiasms — given reckless autonomy. The fact that we are baffled by his form only marks our distance from our sense of our true selves.
As this most recent television appearance demonstrates, in the quarter of a century since Blobby emerged from the mind of a TV prank writer and proved too unruly to be restrained by the narrative that birthed him, Blobby has not been tamed. 25 years ago, Blobby was a regular feature on This Morning — or, as it was then known, GMTV. The chaos Blobby brought to that live television environment was like an act of self-harm, shattering the illusion of a suffocating state-sanctioned British propriety.
Was there something in the water? Did the nation really once fall about laughing at the clumsy antics of a bloke in a big pink rubber costume with yellow blobs all over it?
Yes. Bizarrely, Noel Edmonds’s daft sidekick was so popular his single bumped Take That off the top of the charts in 1993. (And has since been voted the most annoying Christmas number one ever.)
It was not a Blobby aphrodisiac that was in the water but the molecular pollutants of Thatcherism: an individualism that sought to purify our dissident natures. Blobby was resistant for far longer than most could have anticipated. He survived so long that many tried to market him, make him an agent of capitalism by creating a theme park in his honour, but all such attempts failed. Blobby was a figure of the fete, not the ticketed enclosure. And so, in the end, he had to be forcibly put down.
In the years since Blobby used to frequently frequent our screens, ITV’s breakfast show has only emboldened itself further, attempting to embody and dictate to the nation a neoliberal moral standing. Arguably, as a result of this, the show has become increasingly Americanised — the studio clinical and over-lit; the presenters the epitome of a soulless straight-toothed respectability. The show’s producers continue to parade guests before the nation who are seen as mutated avatars of their normative values, existing out on the fringes of society. (Most recently, for example, I saw that veganism remains a newsworthy cultural curiosity for some.) As such, This Morning presents itself as a revolving human zoo, under the auspices of public-interest interviews with the nation’s nonconformists.
Blobby is truly antithetical to its nature. He flings himself across the divide; across the delineation between host and guest. The show invites him onto their sofa knowing full well that he’ll flip it over. Why do they do this? In the hope they can defeat him; tame him? Perhaps they too cannot resist the chance to be in the presence of his expenditures. After all, he is their unconscious too. They still do not realise this fact and it is remains their tragic flaw.
The media class had mistakenly thought they had won, overcoming the nation’s hysteric love for this monstrosity, believing they could write him out as easily as he was written in. And so, the media turned on Blobby, declaring him “unfunny”, a symptom of a national dementia, and, unfortunately, it seems like these panicked rejections of the Blob, who threaten to rupture the internal processes of neoliberal subjection, ultimately won out.
We forgot ourselves. They forgot themselves too. But Blobby remains the last true embodiment of rave frivolity, of impolite abandon, of libidinal excess. Blobby is all that we have repressed given a life of its own.
Attempting to explain Mr Blobby to the American public, in her same article for the NYT, Elizabeth Kolbert also writes that
watching Mr. Blobby at work, his green plastic eyes spinning maniacally, one has to wonder whether his appeal to this nation of Shakespeare, Milton and Philip Larkin isn’t a bit more complex. His frozen smile has a malevolent curve. Blobby is Barney without his medication.
But of course he shares this appeal. Barney is surely medicated — just look at him! He is just another victim of the therapeutic imaginary. Blobby represents something too old and too primal to succumb to the modern politics of individualism. He is Shakespeare’s Caliban; Milton’s Satan. Philip Larkin, too, was famous for his beautification of the national unconscious. Blobby is what Larkin could not contain within the pretensions of an intensely English poetics. Blobby can only be expressed through his own immortal tongue. “Blobby blobby blobby!!”
To bring Blobby back in 2018 is surely to unleash that which was long thought vanquished by the transcendental miserablism of the media establishment.
We might understand transcendental miserablism, via Ben Woodard, as that “impregnable form of negation which places all negation in one entity”. For Nick Land, for the British left, this entity is capitalism. What is that entity for the capitalist? Surely it is Blobby.
Blobby is useless. Our negative image, as Woodard suggests, which is devoid of utility. Or perhaps the real danger of Blobby was that he is all too useful, too easily captured by libidinal forces, too easily reduced to our political whims. His alinguistic “blobs” too easily filled as false signifiers.
This is the danger of Blobby but also his revolutionary utility.
In Cyclonopedia, Reza Negarestani writes of a “blobjective” point of view which he attributes to the functionality of “petropolitical undercurrents” — the world as seen by and through oil. Blobby may not resemble the material consistency of oil but he is nonetheless absorbent and free-flowing. He likewise interconnects “inconsistencies, anomalies or what we might simply call the ‘plot holes'” of our neoliberal existence. Blobby travels through the wounds of class war. He is the libidinal ejecta of the class war machine itself, levelling all other idols in his burning immanence, a mutation emerging from the molten intensity of sociopolitical flows. He is, as Reza writes, “a manifest degenerate entity for which wholeness is but a superficial distraction.”
It is this irreverence for the whole that makes Blobby such a threat to the neoliberal order — and so, in 1999, he was extinguished. Now, he has returned, perhaps summoned by the calls of a false jungle. Who knows how he might be able to aid us in future…
His philosophy of life will steer him through
And as far as he can see
He’s the same as you and me
There’s nothing in the world he cannot do
No hill too high, no desert too dry
No road too long, no tide too strong
No bridge too far, he’s got a car
No slope to steep, no thought too deep
No star too bright, no squeeze too tight
No tale too tall, no cat too cool
No bass too low, he’ll give it a go
No end to his talents, no sense of balance
Blobby, oh Mr Blobby, when disaster strikes you never get depressed
Blobby, oh Mr Blobby, you’ll always prove that Blobby is the best