The meaning of life is, apparently, “the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death”. Somewhere in there, joy and love should occur.
Pity the Independent, then. For the past 20 years its story has been one of shrinkage, dysfunction, and becoming more risible as it circles the plughole of oblivion seemingly forever. The Independent brings no light or joy to anyone, least of all itself. For every day that the Independent exists, one feels a sense of admiration for the News of the World, which at least had the decency to shoot itself in the head when its inglorious gig was up. Meanwhile, like a sadistic director’s cut of Saving Private Ryan, the Independent drags its legless body up the beach, spilling entrails and plasma, trying to reach a bridgehead that no longer exists.
When we last reviewed the Independent, we made fun of its attempts to make shocking news out of hearsay (see below). But we were mocking it in its heyday, and perhaps we should have nurtured it. Since then it has, of course, lost its print edition although you can still subscribe to get the paper in tablet or phablet form. It looks like the Independent used to look, but on your screen. Or you could just make friends with some frothy liberals. If Mark Steel or Grace Dent says anything good, or at least angry, then they’ll put it on Facebook for you.
In February 2016 the Indie lost all contact with ink when it sold its appalling I paper to Johnston Press. Today, unless you have a news service like Upday, the Independent will not bother you at all. When it does, it’s with the sort of stories that were on an internet fake news machine like Buzzfeed or Whisper a week earlier. “Interracial couple abused while sharing a meal” is one such story at time of writing, along with “Barman saw man use date rape drug so he swapped their drinks”. No time, no date, no place, no context, no named witnesses. Just a disembodied sense that something bad happened in the world and we should be upset about it, or link to it with a sense of judicious and disproportionate outrage like a 13-year-old with a bottle of cheap cider. To be honest. there’s no point explaining it when you can see for yourself. This is an Independent scoop.
Indy100, meanwhile, serves up the real tripe online:”Moth with blond hair and small gentitalia named after Trump” and “This fitness instructor is body-positive about being overweight”; not so much clickbait as click-repellant. The Indy’s banner ads are invariably for stock trading scams that will help you lose almost as much money as The Independent.
We would take the Independent out of Fringepig except for the sake of the archive and that it probably will carry on making the most token of efforts for Edinburgh. Last year David Pollock managed to review Amy Schumer on September 1st, and the year before that they accused the one-liner winner of nicking the line. Just as funny, The Independent still insists that Julian Hall works for it. Julian was the one light in its years of darkness. To prove that he’s still there, the Indie displays his thoughts on a Jack Whitehall gig from the Spring of 2014 and his list of the best jokes of 2013. The Independent also reveals that Julian has been filling in his time writing a book on cult comedy. Stay strong, Julian. Stay busy.