Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Come On Pilgrim

For centuries the act of pilgrimage has been an integral part of the religious life. Whether it be a trip to Rome to witness Team Pope’s weekly meeting or a journey to Mecca to take part in the most dangerous episode of Takeshi’s Castle ever, such journeys have traditionally acted as tests of one’s faith, the overcoming of various obstacles representing proof that one’s chosen deity has delivered you safely to Jerusalem, Lourdes or wherever as reward for your faith.

In recent times, the act of pilgrimage has evolved somewhat. Flights to Mecca mean that one can test one’s resolve and faith and still be back in time to catch the final episode of Friends. Outside of the religious box, fans of deceased rock stars make pilgrimages to sit at gravesides in Paris (Jim Morrison), New York (John Lennon) and Macclesfield (Ian Curtis) whilst carving overwrought Tweets in nearby trees.

Now, fans of the recently finished BBC sitcom Gavin and Stacey will be able to make their own pilgrimages a la Gavin from Billericay to Barry Island, thanks to Brit Movie Tours. A six hour coach journey across the southern half of the country apparently made more bearable by nonstop videos of a sitcom wherein two couples struggle to maintain their relationships whilst making the same journey. At the end of this leap of faith, the chance to see the amusement arcade where Nessa works must surely provide such an outburst of spirituality as to compete with the holy waters at Lourdes.

Back in the innocent days when cinema tie-ins extended to nothing more than being able to say “seen the film, bought the t-shirt” without sounding clichéd and synergy was just a soft drink for heretics, the idea that people would have made acts of pilgrimage in order to replicate the life experiences of fictional characters would have been laughable. People didn’t do that sort of thing. Not here, not British people, but ever since the nation’s kids filled their bedrooms with Star Wars toys, the search for new ways to enhance one’s enjoyment of a film or television series has been unending.

We used to laugh at Japanese kids obsessed with the minutiae of American rock and roll culture, we’d poke fun at battle re-enactment societies. We watched footage of pilgrims to Mecca dying in stampedes partly in shock but also with a smug sense of not being like “those crazy religious nutters”.

But now watching television isn’t enough. Escapism mustn’t end with the closing credits. Now, people throw Lost parties and Abigail’s Party nights. The kids of Brighton and Bristol wear Paxman wigs and snort Jamie Oliver’s pesto mix. Following today’s announcement of the end of the world’s longest running sitcom, it can be assumed that soon the hills of Yorkshire will be filled with elderly men in bathtubs, desperate to recreate the antics seen each week in Last of the Summer Wine.
Don’t get on the Gavin and Stacey bus, kids. If your own life is so wretched that only by making pilgrimages to the real life locations of a sitcom character’s life then go and watch The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin*, then go to the beach, go to Barry Island if you’re already on the coach there. Walk into the sea fully dressed. Keep moving, there’s a good pilgrim.

*the original, not the Clunes thing, christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment