Vote Michael Hunt - How I managed to troll an art exhibition in Plymouth and nearly end up in a fight, and how it became my favourite piece of work that I've been involved in.
A brief background to the project: I was watching a lot of The Thick Of It and I'm Alan Partridge at the time of the origins of this project. I loved how in The Thick Of It, the dialogue is so cleverly written and although every line in it is a joke in some form, it accurately portrayed the state of UK politics. I came to learn that a lot of dialogue was also improvised by the cast. When it came to Partridge, I loved how much I hated him as a character. He played that weird, creepy uncle role to a T, to the point where no matter how ridiculous the situation was, the character never broke. You almost believed that Steve Coogan didn't exist, but Alan Partridge did.
When the initial exhibition was planned, the group settled on the theme of remediation, and went with a title of "Out with the new, in with the used." After realising that ripping off some of the panel boarding off of a newly closed underground music venue probably wouldn't suffice as an art project, I thought about my project, and by thought, I mean I procrastinated and continued the two TV shows I was talking about earlier. The more I immersed myself in them, the more I wanted to create something that echoed the comedy that these two shows provided. I thought about the idea of improvising, strong character work, and then, like a depressed person and a train, it hit me. It was then that Michael Hunt, Plymouths' soon-to-be Conservative MP was born. Well, he was born decades ago, because if he was born that day by the time the exhibition came round he'd have only been 2 months old, but I think you get the picture.
Michael Hunt was the most loathed man in Plymouth. His policy ideas on paper appeared to be positive, but often had either negative undertones, or just absolutely no effect on anything. One of these policies was to include a minimum wage for musicians performing on stage, which meant that people could not be exploited by playing for free. As great as this sounds, this means that a musician would have to play on stage for full time hours in order to make a living out of it. His approach to policy was often subtle, and managed to convince the public that he was in fact, on their side. The reality was that he would say anything to get the public vote. He conjured up 5 policies that he could show off in his personal manifesto, and started his own political campaign. He printed off individual posters for each policy, a big manifesto poster, with a picture of himself taking up 40% of the poster, and finally, a framed picture of himself, looking like a stern teacher, which he framed and placed on his desk. He was ready to make these policies public.
Rather than shy away from meeting the public like his fellow Tory counterparts, Michael Hunt took to an arts exhibition in Plymouth, to converse with the youth of today, the next generation of voters. He went into great detail about his policies that he had prepared, as well as other policies he had in the back of his mind. There were many people who chose to engage in political debate, many of whom were unhappy with his views and opinions. Michael Hunt wiped the floor with these people, as if the left were bacteria, and Michael was the right cloth for the job. One argument that got especially heated was a debate about hospitals, where one young, deluded voter was annoyed at the Conservatives view towards the terminally ill in regards to a lack of funding. Michael managed to hit back with a quote that will one day go down in a history book. "If there is a man, who is not well, and he is in a room with only one exit. Is it not courteous for you to open the door for them?"The room's collective jaw hit the floor, damaging the structure of the old and cheap venue of the exhibition. How could a man say something so simple, yet just so, right? That is because there has never been a man like Michael Hunt. A man with a clear head, that can point people in the right direction.
Michael had various discussions with others about policy, a highlight for him being when a veteran Conservative offered his praise to him for the work that he had done, and his commitment to the political party. But there was one discussion that nearly turned nasty. Michael was talking with a man about student finance, and the man was evidently very angry. He wondered why he had to pay back an estimated £40,000 in return for 3 years of the highest education from the Plymouth College of Art. When Michael Hunt explained that if you do not feel like you could afford to pay it back over the span of 30 years, then maybe the concept of higher education shouldn't be for him. The man became irate and aggressive. He was no longer dealing with the far left of the UK, he was now dealing with the far left of the USA. Even more self-entitled and moronic than the UK left, he began to threaten Michael Hunt. It looked as if it was going to come to blows. Michael Hunt was in a predicament, he couldn't throw a punch to defend himself because he was aware that punching a voter is a bad thing. He also couldn't sit there a take a beating, as he had a photoshoot over the weekend for his new column in the Plymouth Herald. So he did what any great politician would do. He wormed his way out of it. Michael Hunt used clever wording and persuasion techniques in order to not receive a smack in the face.
Although the character of Michael Hunt has vanished from the public eye in recent years, it is clear that the campaign was a success. It is easy to tell this, because the person who invented his campaign received a First on their university project, and Michael Hunt's campaign was one of the stand out pieces of work from the entire exhibition. You can hear more from Michael Hunt on the blog section of this website.