There’s been much (some) made in British discourse of the phenomenon of cupcake fascism. If you’ve ever been to London, you might already have a vague, instinctive awareness of what this entails. If I could boil it down to five key elements, this is what they would be:
- A renewed obsession with all things “artisan,” especially baked goods
- Getting ripped off / ripping other people off
- Pre-postcolonial facial hair
- White people
Most importantly, all of this has to be blended into a stupid fun-and-games village fete cocktail, so that everyone gets to compete on a remarkably hill-shaped playing field to see who can make the very bestest cutesy writings on a chalkboard to advertise their very bestest artisan sourdough baklawa with sea salt.
However, since the Conservative government says that the cupcake will no longer be receiving any more of the hard-up billionaire non-taxpayer’s money, we’re left with something much less fluffy. Furthermore, thanks to platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, the bullshit cocktail now has a global reach—and everyone wants a sip.
As such, I no longer think the label of “cupcake fascism” is apt. We are now living in what I call The Age of Bullshit, or the Anthropobollockscene for short, wherein humanity’s powers of bullshit have irreversibly changed the planet for the worse. In the anthropobollockscene, men with pointless hats will sell you the sweatshop-produced goods you know and love for twice the price. In the anthropobollockscene, you will eat “Japanese tapas” at an “English gastropub,” and Instagram it. In the anthropobollockscene, you think you are happy.
We are all guilty. We are all to blame. We are all responsible. And what’s worse, we all enjoy it.
What does this have to do with Iceland? Let me eat my artisan ideology in peace!
Imagine we—that is, people in Iceland—are living on a boat. We have now been travelling up the western shore of the Bullshit River for a number of years in search of answers to our problems. Our final destination? Shoreditch, London: the heart of darkness in The Age of Bullshit.
There had been whisperings that a decorated and respected white man, Marcus Mumford, had “gone native,” so to speak, and was ruling the jungle as a living god with some of his Sons, after bringing “much-needed” improvements and investment to the area, such as cereal cafes and “water bars.”
As we travelled further upstream, strange changes started to take place among the denizens of the boat. After the fishermen’s friends lost all of our money in a very strange and mysterious incident at the head of the ship, a mutiny began to take place on the lower decks. While this was happening, some of the more entrepreneurial upper-crusties of the crew decided to venture to the Beach of Folly to soak up some rays, which beach, despite its name, apparently had some very nice Airbnbs and jam jar cocktails.
Impressed with what they had done with the place, they handed the local white savages a funky dance video entitled “Inspired by Boat,” and some pamphlets advertising the boat’s whale-watching services, in exchange for a loaned crate of beer and a newfound sense of purpose.
This went on for some time, and with a great degree of success. The money started to come back onto the boat, and we decided that the guys who lost it in the first place probably deserved a second chance.
As we ran out of cool boat services to trade with the savages, however, we had no choice but to start trading away our own belongings. We gave them some nifty sweaters in exchange for a food truck. We swapped some cool albums for a Tuk Tuk. We demolished some of our cool boat venues to make space for some shops, so those from the shore had more places to buy stuffed Boat memorabilia. We even began to rent out the lifeboats [via Airbnb].
But it was not to last. The jungle was growing colder and more hostile the further North we sailed. The people of the boat had traded away their lopapeysur, and what’s more, couldn’t afford the fancy anoraks we were selling to the tourists. The boat was getting bigger and bigger, and those new cabins needed filling. “We’re just happy you’re here, Mumford and Sons! We just are so very happy.”
The horror! The horror!
Now the news comes of a new restaurant opening onboard—one that serves “tapas.” In jam jars. In a plank. On one side of the plank of jars is your starter, and on the other is your dessert. You eat your starter, much too close to your dessert. You don’t use clean cutlery for each new course. You drink beer from a sixth jam jar. You wonder how you got here.
But there is no question of “how” anymore, for everything is already going exactly according to plan. The King is in his castle and God is in his weird culinary landfill-chic Heaven. You have been pitched a fresh hellscape of a nightmare artisan cheesecake, and it is rich and sweet on your tongue. Like hemlock. Or a Macbook charger.
When will it end?
Sometimes, when I go out by myself, I look across the water. And I think of all the things. I dream of using those jam jars to catch that which spills out of the holes in the colander I’m inexplicably being served fries in. I think of Swiss cheese. Of hulls. Of holes. Our Traditional Icelandic Boat Holes. Of escape from this mortal coil.
Where will our bodies wash up? Some bright new shore, populated by strange creatures who eat food off of plates instead of egg cups? Or somewhere else? Somewhere where even the toilet paper is “rustic.” Where cereal is an “event.” Where the men ride fixed-gear bicycles. Where pipes are ironic, or unironic. Somewhere much darker.
“And when Marcus Mumford saw the breadth of His domain, He wept—for there were no more worlds to conquer.”