So this is a new one on me.

Moggie has some sort of instinctive detector, buried in the chipper, perverted, internet-trained rat maze that is her brain, which sounds an alert whenever a guy in eyeliner does something vaguely interesting. Guys in eyeliner are very much her thing; I like the look, but I'm fairly wary of people who wear it. Not everyone who decides to go out as an emo or a scene kid or a goth is a total attention whore -- most aren't, honestly -- but there are an awful lot of total attention whores who have noticed that emos and scenesters and goths get a lot of looks, if you see my point. I let her sort out the ones I'm not going to want to slap.

Mog has a very well-documented thing for tall leggy British men with fabulous cheekbones and a mild but incurable case of madness. I cannot honestly say I object to, for example, her tireless efforts to post every picture ever taken of Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch, separately and together, on her tumblr. She has recently added to this list a comedian named Noel Fielding. I was vaguely aware of his existence before; I've seen a hell of a lot of Never Mind The Buzzcocks, where he's a permanent team captain opposite Phil Jupitus for several series. I paid just enough attention to realize who exactly his delivery was reminding me of (George Harrison, completely wrong accent, same timing) and to notice he was summat abstract, and prone to wearing hats of questionable sanity.

But Mog thought he was interesting, so I went back and paid attention.

I think this is really the first time I've ever seen anyone who routinely turns up at work dressed like some sort of glam rock mod goth --  intentionally, I assume; it's difficult to achieve that look by accident -- do this:


as if ducking his head and mashing his hand through his hair is really going to make him invisible. 

This is not Fielding's only weird tell. He's a mass of unexpected things. I don't know if you've noticed, but most people who dress like that make it a centerpiece of their existence. They are quite conscious of their clothes at all times. Either they're making sure not to interfere with their outfit, or they've suddenly become excruciatingly aware that they might look funny and fiddle about with their outfit like they want to be wearing basically anything else. Fielding doesn't. Fielding dresses like a goth prettyboy peacock but refuses to move like one -- he moves like he is some dude, and those are his clothes. Which means he does a whole fuckton of stuff that you really do not expect from anyone dressed like that, of which "trying to hide" is both one of the most frequent, and one of the most amusing.

(Ducking, hiding, head down on the desk a lot; hands in his hair a hell of a lot, both twirling the ends and just scrubbing through the top, which is pretty much the opposite of what you'd expect from someone who has obviously put a great deal of work into that haircut and a very meticulous dye job; he worries at his fingernails and fiddles with his rings while he watches other people; various other things, almost all of which one normally associates with quiet shyness or insecurity. He keeps his elbows tucked in much of the time, his legs crossed at the knee and his arms crossed and laid on his thighs, which is classic body language for 'yeah, don't mind me, I'm not really here' and depending on context, actually a very girl thing to do, as women tend to be socialized to be tiny and delicate and considerate of other peoples' personal space. 

Which Fielding is, until other people start reaching for him, and then he somehow ends up practically sitting on them while facing to the side to talk to the host. This is particularly prominent with people like Russell Brand and Richard Ayoade, both of whom he's apparently worked with/spent a lot of time with. Brand hasn't got a lot in the way of impulse control at the best of times and they spend about half of their two years running on the annual Big Fat Quiz, on a team together, nearly sitting in each other's laps.)

I thus far know basically nothing about Fielding, aside from the work I'm digging up on YouTube. I would guess that he's some sort of uneven mix of shy and friendly, in person, at least while working; he spends a lot of time sitting with his hands all knotted up under his chin (and probably his legs wound up, under the table) and being generally self-contained, and yet somehow manages to get the most utterly random contestants to cuddle up to him on Buzzcocks. Girls especially, even when he gets a sudden attack of the olds and clearly considers the pop tart on panel next to him to be some sort of adorable and precocious little fetus in a minidress, but various guys have done it, too. He was confronted with a small child once on one of the annual Big Fat Quizes, and the first thing he did was slide all the way down on his elbows and prop his chin on the desk, to look the kid in the eye. He somehow managed not to throttle Jedward -- Moggie is familiar with them too, and informs me that they were toning it down for the panel quiz, which probably would have been little comfort had Phil given into the urge to launch them into orbit.

For what it's worth, I don't think Fielding is doing the whole attention-starved teenager "cheese monkey waffle LOOK AT ME I'M WACKY" thing. I think his brain does genuinely work like that. It's too consistent and not obtrusive enough for it to be just an act, although certainly he's taking advantage of the fact that the inside of his head is already full of weird from which he can derive the rest of his general public surreality. He's usually fairly quiet about it, isn't much for interrupting, and although he will explain the narrative thread -- for a certain summat corkscrew value of 'explain' -- if asked, if nobody bites he doesn't push it. He also apparently really does dress like that all the time; he mentions once that his collaborator, Julian Barratt, managed to catch him after a shower and before he got all the eye makeup on, and was rather discombobulated. He gives the distinct impression that he thinks there's some kind of internal logic to all of this. The only times I've really seen him just hurl random nouns at people is when someone's really pushing him for it, mostly Simon Amstell, one of the very few people whom he quite obviously (I think, anyway) did. not. like. at. ALL.

Comments

  1. Oh, HIM! I loved him as Richmond on 'The IT Crowd' :-D

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  2. Ah yes, I feel like I should pay more attention to Noel Fielding too. I've inadvertently resembled him in enough photos, in garb, hair and pose, it seems fitting. I was always self-conscious when I was younger, at least about my physiognomy and mannerisms, but somehow not when I left home and started dressing how I pleased.

    Wasn't until my late-ish twenties, when things happened like, some dude pointed at the freshly dyed green hair on my head and asked, "Is that for St Patrick's Day?" and in all earnestness I looked around and behind me puzzledly. I honestly forget what I look like to others most of the time, even when I've dressed with some vaguely intended "look". I just look how I like, not really thinking "OOOH, this is gonna scare teh straights!"

    I even openly mourned the other day the idea that I may in fact associate with a number of attention-whores in my goth and geek-cosplay circles. Seriously! I always more or less assumed "pretentious" was an invented insult that people who didn't like alternative style just hurled at me and others like---pretention seemed more like people who tried too hard to fit into the "mainstream"---but it actually never sunk in that there were people in my chosen subcultures that were consciously "choosing to be weird" because they liked the stares and generally negativity.

    It's a little embarrassing admitting to such naivete now that I'm in my early 30s, but hey. We're always growing and learning...

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    1. Oy, sorry about the grammar errors. I think I was trying to type "and general negativity" or "generally negative" something and got wires crossed. Happens when I'm trying to be simultaneously introspective and express myself.

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    2. It's not necessarily a pretentiousness thing; a proper glam or goth ensemble takes a fair bit of effort to put together, and people who are inclined to do that also tend to be people who are proud of that ability. It's a thing they put forward when they first meet people, so it'll be part of the first impression. Almost all of TV in particular is made of one big continual first impression, so it's rare to see someone in a getup like that who hasn't sort of trained themselves to be mindful of matching their bearing to what they wear.

      He is well aware of how he looks. He makes cracks about it himself, from time to time. It's just that, normally, people who are inclined to sort of wrap themselves up and hide in their outerwear are the kinds of people who wear cardigans that are a bit too big, not the kinds of people who show up for work wearing a full-circle black cloak with colorful appliqué for the bottom third of its length. Fielding has got some shirts that are probably visible from outer space, and he routinely fails at buttons. This whole method of dress is in direct contradiction to the mass of 'sorry, didn't mean to exist right in the way here' body language.

      I'm probably going to have to keep staring at it until I figure out how he's reconciling the two. Or until he stops being pretty. One of those.

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  3. In unrelated news, I am proud that if I think someone is interesting, you will give me the benefit of the doubt and go check them out yourself. Whee!

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    1. You have known me for eight and a half years now, and for reasons I will never understand, you are still talking to me. You know better than to try to show me anybody boring or in need of a damn good smacking.

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