Posted inLet's Agree to Disagree

Let’s Agree to Disagree: “This Is A Serious Column”

Illustration by Ben Beechener

Welcome to our column! We bet you’re dying to know what you’ve let yourself in for…

Over the course of eight weeks, Let’s Agree to Disagree will tackle the big, the small, and the ridiculously minute (which is where we normally fall out). Every week you will be cast as the ‘Jury of our Peers’ as each opening statement is examined by our ‘Defence’ and ‘Prosecution’ (this structure is how we have attempted to add weight to our opinions – we’re not actually ‘pick me’). Like in any trial, we will leave you to decide what you think once we have had the chance to take a few swipes at each other. But, because we’re mean and want to be objectively chosen, we won’t be telling you who is who. You just have to decide which of us is right!

Sincerely (though are we ever actually sincere?), 

Jess and Katharine

The point of debate: ‘This is a serious column’

PROSECUTION: Dearest members of the ‘Jury of our Peers’ (JooP). (Yes, that sounds ridiculous to me too, but then again, this is not a serious column.) Unfortunately – due to heavy coercion – we will both have to suffer through the “legitimising” use of legal jargon. The fact that the entire premise of the Prosecution and Defence is used incorrectly surely proves that this isn’t serious. But then again, when we came up with this brilliant idea, one of us was drunk and thought she could include it on her Harvard application. The other was just drunk. If you were expecting even a touch of sincerity, you will be sorely disappointed and should just move on to find far more serious and far less entertaining reading material. However, if you have an open mind stay for a wild eight weeks of light-hearted and trivial debate: the type of debate that punctuates suppers at home, litters every group chat, and is the focus of 4am drunken symposiums. As in all of these examples we will be putting the world to rights with the vigour of gesticulating cutlery, the spiritedness of a Whatsapp, and the assurance of being a bottle of wine or so down.

Yet before you fully commit to continuing with us on what only expects to be a thrilling journey through life’s biggest issues, it might be wise for me to explain what you are actually getting yourself into. Firstly, we must ask: what is a column? We all know, even if some journalists won’t admit it, that a column is just a place for someone to write whatever they want, relevant or not. It can, I suppose, be used to answer questions or write reviews – take your average agony aunt or restaurant critic as an example. But, when the power is all in the columnist’s hands, why would they be genuine sources of intellect? You do, however,  get to know a columnist; their style, their tone, their subjects and opinions. So we can assume that over the coming weeks, my opposition and I will chat shit for eight weeks and you, the JooP, will keep coming back for more. 

Secondly, we must assess, is this column a serious one? The answer is no. In what world did you expect the likes of the two of us to write a serious column? We specialise in Taylor Swift, not economic crises. To give you a hint at some of the ‘sErIoUSnEsS’ to come: 

We will not be giving credit where none is due to the genuine, proven, and Disney-certified villain, Sharpay, in High School Musical. I am sorry but there is nothing deep about her ‘mean girl’ energy. 

Swiftly and comically following this, the absolute truth of Astrology will be corroborated. Don’t worry, you are not in an irrationally bad mood. Your moon is rising and your ruler, Jupiter, is in ascendance.- God forbid you had to be held accountable! 

Also to come will be a deep dive into why crying at fiction is for the weak. Buck up. Boxer was just a horse.

Thirdly, we must question, why would you want a serious column in the first place? I personally, and rightly – unlike the delightful specimen who is to follow – believe that everything has got a bit deep recently. Surely injecting your week with some lighthearted frivolity is exactly what’s necessary in dreary, damp, depressing Hilary? You may as well look forward to reading something from us when you’re huddled by a radiator in the Bod.

It must be obvious that this is going to be a column filled with comedy gold and very little mental taxation (i.e. the two things absent in Oxford) and not sombre reflection upon the world. If I were you, I would ignore anything that comes below. It will just be a supercilious attempt at elevating the everyday and heightenning that which should remain firmly in the realm of the delightfully trivial. 

DEFENCE: Members of the jury, I apologise for the words of my learned friend. Evidently they have had far too much wine to actually string together a coherent sentence. On the other hand, I am sparklingly sober and actually take this Column seriously, because it is a serious column. 

Why is it a serious Column, I hear you ask? Well, most simply, it must be a proper Column (look, I’m even capitalising it!), or it simply would not be published. Do you take The Oxford Blue, Oxford’s one and only exclusively-online paper, for some kind of shitshow? Do you seriously think that a meaningless Column, which is nothing more than drunken rambling, would be allowed to make it into the fabled gilded walls that line The Blue’s hall of famous Columnists (yes, it exists, yes one of us is already a member so knows all about writing serious Columns)? The answer is absolutely not. If a ridiculous Column, with no narrative vision other than chatting shit somehow slipped through the cracks and made it to publication, Jess would be the shortest running Editor-in-Chief in history. Though, maybe, given how constantly she complains about her workload this was her master plan…

Beyond all this, my learned friend is just plain wrong (though when are they not?) in suggesting that seriousness and comedy have to be mutually exclusive entities. Have they not heard of dark humour? Of satire? Of any piece of text that is even vaguely engaging? Do they even have a sense of humour? Evidently not a very nuanced one. Why can’t we specialise on Taylor Swift AND economic crises? There have  been weirder specialisms. One of us is the leading scholar (well, the world’s only) on Taylor Swift and romanticism. The other has already had a column.

As you will see over these coming weeks, life is actually really deep (scarily deep! As in, have a crisis next time you are lolling about watching Disney + and realise that Grey’s Anatomy is actually a really dark commentary dealing with the inevitable cycle of abandonment and abuse-deep). Just as people failed to take Legally Blonde seriously as a legal drama because Elle Woods (a graduate from one of the most prestigious legal programs in the world) wore a pink suit and carried a dog in a handbag, so people are all too quick to put down High School Musical

Soon – well, after reading our column on HSM – you will no longer be thinking “God, he’s cute,” when Troy Bolton bounces around the basketball court. You will instead find yourself instinctively asking, “why is it so utterly impossible to reconcile small town values with big picture thinking?”. When checking your daily horoscope, that little gremlin-esque voice in the back of your head will whisper, “do you actually give a shit about Jupiter’s ascendence or are you craving external validation for the anxieties you constantly feel?”. The depths we are going to touch may be existential crisis-inducing, but it will be bloody cleansing and leave you feeling fresh as a daisy.We even have a whole week dedicated to catharsis.. And, if we are providing you with weekly mental therapy (NB: we are not actually licensed therapists please do not act on our advice, The Blue absolutely cannot afford to get sued), could you really argue that we aren’t serious writers? You can’t, because then you would be trivialising real life issues, and that’s gross. 

So, Members of the Jury (I am not stooping to the ridiculousness of JooP, because this Column is, in fact, serious), now that we have established that we are proper writers writing a proper(ly brilliant) Column it’s time to sit down, relax – if you can ever actually be relaxed while huddled up to a Bod radiator – and enjoy the ride. It’s going to be wild.