Boris Johnson is a front for the Conservative Party, and he blusters and buzzes as if he’s making the wrong impression of himself. But don’t be fooled by his cheesy bob hair — it’s all part of the brand he and his pals have carefully cultivated.
In the age of social media and 10-second TikTok videos, soundbites and looks take precedence over substance. As a former journalist and editor, Johnson knows the importance of grabbing an audience’s attention. “Get Brexit Done” was the “I’m lovin’ it” of his election campaign, because it etched itself more deeply into people’s minds than any detailed policy proposal ever could.
And with politics devoid of new ideas, all that remains is a personality contest, as principles are eclipsed by comic effect and entertainment. This void is filled with opportunists like Johnson, who will alter their political stance depending on whether it will advance their personal circumstances at any given time. When the DUP held the balance of power, it flattered the DUP. Now it’s the right-wing Brexiteer Tories who are keeping him on the job – so he’ll be dancing to their tune until a different song comes along. The paradox is that, while Johnson may have helped create this empty political environment, he is also its product. In the society of the spectacle, it is better to be known as a liar than to be unknown.