If you’re in the UK, you may have heard a new craze in the lead up to the University Challenge Final. I am, of course, talking about Monkmania – the love of Eric Monkman; Economics student, head of Wolfson College, Cambridge’s UC team and all-round genius. His eager attitude, facial expressions and sheer brainpower have won over the country.
Now, I’m not naïve enough to believe that all the attention Monkman has garnered is positive; in fact, most probably like him “ironically”. They love to mock him, rather than genuinely love him. He’s a novelty that they’re probably already bored of at the time of publishing this. I put it to you, however, that this sudden wave of attention for University Challenge, Monkman himself and academia in general, could be good.
As Michael Gove famously said, the British have supposedly “had enough of experts”. While Gove will never in a million years speak for or represent me personally, he has a point. In order to get people to listen, they have to engage and be engaged. The fact is, society is tired of facts. No one wants to listen to someone they can’t relate to spouting figures and statistics when they could go to the guy shouting passionately on the next stand – even if he’s talking utter shite. The Trump presidency, Brexit, and Nigel Farage’s new radio show all prove one thing; the people follow their hearts before their heads. We are slowly becoming like the It’s Always Sunny in Phildelphia gang; whoever shouts the loudest wins. The only difference is that this isn’t satire. It’s real life. Politicians, celebrities and yes I’ll admit, bloggers are listened to more closely than those who are actually qualified to talk about whatever it is they’re spouting on about. (Believe me I get the irony at play here.)
We need to build a relationship with experts again, and in order to do that our view of ‘experts’ needs a facelift. Could Monkman’s Spongebob Squarepants eager-beaver grin help? The UK is marvelling over this Canadian fount of knowledge and I can’t help but hope this will be positive. I’m not saying Monkmania will solve the world’s problems, but this kind of narrative is a start. Monkman and the other University Challenge contestants who have been in the limelight this season (Bobby Seagull, Sophie Rudd) represent the new generation of experts, and who wouldn’t put their trust in this face?
I don’t know about you, but in a world full of Trumps, I’d rather trust the Monkman.
See you soon,
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