Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Apprentice

Last night, I watched The Apprentice with a strange sinking feeling in my stomach. One dream job, one large wage, too many applicants. Everybody made to look rather silly on camera as they try not to elbow each other in the face in front of Alan Sugar. It wasn't too difficult to work out why my cheese muffin was poised in front of my mouth in shock.

"I would rather die than apply for The Apprentice," I remember stoically telling my friend last year. "It's degrading."
Last night, while my muffin was still in mid-air, said friend texted me.
U realise ur in The Apprentice, she wrote, except the bikini clad version.
Am not, I texted back. Is rubbish, I texted again in a panic, putting my muffin down. 
Are, she responded. And then my phone beeped again. Ahahahaha, she added.
Is about talent, I texted back. Not same at all. Nothing like it.
Ahahahaha she texted back, so I turned my phone off.

The two groups - I argued internally for the rest of the programme - are polar opposites. TBJITW candidates are - by and large - the slightly scruffy creative types, with a deep and inherent love of waterfalls, butterflies and 'that moment when the sun hits the water just right'. TA candidates, on the other hand, are fiercely booted, fond of shirts that 'jazz' up their suits and keen on comparing profits to orgasms. Put a TBJITWer in a room with Alan Sugar, and we'll tell him to "totally, like, chill, man," before adding that we "won't be spoken to like that, dude," and leaving the room in a flip-flopped strop. Ask a TAer if he scuba dives or has an interest in the local people, and they'll claim that it is "largely irrelevant" and aggressively ask if you want to "step outside for a minute to discuss it further". 

We share nothing, I thought as I watched my television in vague horror: and that included intelligence (charging £300 to clean three cars?), dress sense (purple satin?) and perspective on life ("This is what it's all about," one of the male candidates sighed as he entered the fish-tanked, plasma-screened accommodation, running his fingers greedily along the white leather couch). I watched them talk about themselves continuously, compare themselves with each other continuously, push forward their own meagre attributes continuously, however debatable they were. I watched them talk over each other to try and make themselves heard, glare at each other over a table, and rip each other apart as soon as they left a room. All for what? The chance at a job that most of them wouldn't be skilled enough to do, even if they got it.

Ahahahah, my friend's text kept repeating in my head. Ahahaha. Because just how different are we, really? Take away the details, and underneath is a pretty similar animal. TBJITWers might be a little more floopy, a little more soya milk, a little more Let Me Ride An Ostrich, but we're also fiercely ambitious: we wouldn't be here if we weren't. And TAers - similarly - just want something that's going to change their lives and help them achieve their dreams. They want to escape as well, even if it's just to a white-carpeted apartment in North London. 

Okay, so we go about it in different ways - and in very different outfits - but scrape the surface with a couple of fingernails and it's the same story: a competition to win a life that you wouldn't otherwise get, but believe you deserve. And yes, the winner of TBJITW will be a 'creative, outdoorsy' type, and the winner of TA will be a 'businessy, indoorsy type', but what difference does that make in the grander scale of things?

Indoors or outdoors, stories or excel sheets, fish-tanks or open water, we're all people who are prepared to publicly compete for our dreams. And, frankly, there isn't a satin shirt in the world that can cover that up.