Spice racked

They have sold millions in Japan, where `Wannabe' probably means `I love squirrels'

Share
Related Topics
Pop stars don't win elections. Billy Bragg failed to secure the youth vote for Kinnock and David Bowie's contribution to the triumph of Mrs Thatcher has not been thought worthy of a published thesis by Professor Anthony King of Essex University. Nor will the interview with the Spice Girls - as featured in this week's Spectator - do very much to save John Major. As was admitted recently by a Labour PR man, celebrity endorsement is important only in the sense that "you look sad if you don't have any."

For those unfamiliar with the pop scene, the Spice Girls are the latest in a long line of tame early teen idols, inheritors of the mantle of the Bay City Rollers, Bros and Take That. Their unique selling proposition is that they are feisty, in-your-face females. They have, of course, sold millions in Japan, where "Wannabe" (their latest hit) probably means "I love squirrels".

They are also brilliantly marketed as collectables. Each one has a different name and gimmick (Sporty, Scary, Ginger, Posh and Baby Spice). It can only be a matter of time before the manufacturers of Barbie or Sindy release all five at pounds 13.99 a shot and parents find themselves purchasing the set. Hardly will they have done this than the Spice Girls will split up and be replaced by John Thaw and Kevin Whateley singing cover versions of Elvis Presley.

So bloody what? Given all the above, what does it matter that these young women should embrace the cause of low taxation, the House of Lords, the monarchy, Europhobia and free love (a combination that, eerily, suggests an image of Mrs T romping topless on a Californian beach)? And it is hardly surprising that the Spectator, in its current right-wing anarchistic incarnation, should so approve of young women whose approach to life is materialistic, uncluttered by youthful principle and hedonistic. That is no reason for the rest of us to lose sleep.

Nor is their ignorance in any way unique. When Geri (Ginger Spice) argues against European integration on the basis that "Britain was the first to break away from the Roman Empire"(Yippee, here come the Dark Ages!), at least she knows that the islands were once under the sway of Rome. I wouldn't swear that Kiki Dee knows as much. When Geri goes on to assert that "we travel through Europe and all those countries look the same. Only England looks different," we can afford to smile, knowing that a quick visit to Siena followed by a trip to Heligoland ought to sort that one out. The simultaneous belief in the hereditary principle ("earls and dukes are good for tourism") and pure meritocracy suggests an unformed quality in the Girls' thinking.

And yet I hate this interview and I hate them for giving it and I hate their interviewer - Simon Sebag Montefiore - for enjoying it so much. The one line which sums it up for me is this: "Labour does things for everyone, which might create laziness." This is the pure doctrine of welfare dependency, which I am prepared to accept from those who believe in decent state-funded education, a minimum wage and assistance to return to work (ie those who have an alternative to dependency other than immiseration), but not from those whose sole criticism of Blair is that they do not like his tax policies.

Well, drawls my pal from the letters section, what's the big deal? They have absorbed the orthodox drivel of the pure market much as you and I (a large hand drops sympathetically on my shoulder) absorbed all that Fabian drivel about redistribution and demand-led economies. Chill out.

Ah yes, I think, but our drivel was better than their drivel. Our drivel was about the need to improve life for people, about moral responsibility, about no man being an island. It was only as we got older that we discovered that it was difficult to do. But their drivel means that they don't want to do it at all, even if it was easy! They don't start idealistic and become realistic; they start cynical and will become monstrous.

Up pops another friend. The polls tell us (should we care to listen) that among no section of the population is Labour's lead as great as among 18-24-year-old women. The Spice Girls are out of tune. Maybe. But there's something in this Tamara Beckwith, have-it-all, tolerant but apathetic, supremely individualistic culture which suggests that (as Cyndi Lauper didn't sing) girls just wanna be shits.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker