Alan Partridge: artist, philosopher, genius
In August of last year, so-called ‘actor’ and ‘comedian’ Steve Coogan escaped a lengthy driving ban, citing Alan Partridge as a reason for his need to continue driving. His argument ran that, in light of shooting a new series of Alan Partridge, he would need to be able to drive since Alan Partridge was the sort of person who would drive over taking public transport.
This initially provoked my rancor as evidence of a liberal metropolitan elite who were able to do as they pleased. However the story stuck with me, haunting the recesses of my mind, occasionally popping into consciousness and igniting a curious bewilderment.
Like a man possessed, I span the story around in my mind, convinced there was something more to this story than initially meets the eye, but never quite able to crack it open. That was until I remembered another story of Steve Coogan, told by Stewart Lee at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016. In his set, Lee claimed he understood why Steve Coogan had signed with Sky Comedy, despite Coogan’s previous criticism of the media platform, since Alan Partridge was the kind of person who would sign with Sky.
We typically think of Partridge as the creation of Coogan, a character designed to satirise the shallowness and triviality of today’s media personalities, but I propose that the direction of travel is wrong.
What if Steve Coogan was the creation of Alan Partridge? In this schema, Coogan would in fact be a character designed by Partridge, exposing the hypocrisy and sanctimonious nature of the liberal metropolitan elite.
Let’s look at the evidence. Steve Coogan, a supposedly left leaning individual, who has previously criticised a governing elite made up of politicians and bankers for doing as they please, escapes the rule of law and continues to be a menace on the roads.
Steve Coogan, a supposedly left leaning creative type, who has satirised TV personalities for their shallowness and desire to be famous, signs with a TV corporation that has a hidden agenda in order to further his career.
Alan Partridge, however, remains consistent, spinning his trivial nonsense on a range of platforms but keeping in line with his proposed belief system.
Could it be that Partridge deliberately self sabotaged, exaggerating his own ridiculousness in order to mock the liberal metropolitan elite who buy into the idea of Steve Coogan?
Alan Partridge playing Steve Coogan playing Alan Partridge, I suggest, is a ruse, designed to expose the liberal metropolitan elite for who they really are. Hypocritical, spouting one rule for them and another rule for us, despite their supposed support of the many and not the few.
It has been with great foresight that for nearly 30 years Alan Partridge has allowed his character Steve Coogan to make a mockery of him, slowly biding his time, so that when the moment of Coogan’s exposition comes, it is all the more sweet.
These instances are the beginning of a new Partridge-esque world order, where Coogan’s foibles and misdemeanours become more outlandish and more severe, causing more and more distress, until we begin to question the very cultural norms within which we have been living.
Indeed, Partridge’s spectacle lays bare the essential question of the 21st century: does Coogan’s inability to live up to his own moral values in any way undermine the moral values he proposes and the medium through which he proposes those moral values? Does morality require more than a simple profession of your moral propositions? Is there, perhaps, a higher, more nuanced truth than convenient soundbites?
In pursuit of this higher truth, Partridge proves himself to be a Nietzsche of our day and age, shunned by society, he sits and calculates and observes, questioning the very fabric of society’s moral propositions and exposing them for what they truly are.
Made a laughing stock, he ventures forward bravely, dismissing the misunderstanding of the herd and defining his existence for himself.
Alan Partridge, philosopher, artist, genius. I salute you.