[An image appears of a preoccupied-looking young face with a quiff and designer frames floating through an airport.]
Evan Edinger: So hi everyone. Real bummer today because the prescription lenses for these frames aren’t ready yet and this means I have to wear contact lenses but I still have to wear the frames because 95% of my videos are images of my own face and I might lose a ton of subscribers if people tuned in and they couldn’t immediately recognise me. I’ll be talking about that a lot more later and, also, I’m visiting Tunisia.
[As sprightly jazz music from a lift plays, there are scenes of a plane taking off, a tray of plane food, a plane landing, an army of security personnel collecting Evan at the airport, and then the foyer of a hotel. It is successfully conveyed to us that Evan has travelled from London to Tunisia.]
Evan Edinger: So now I’m in this totally cool hotel, really fancy man, which has been mysteriously provided for me, without me having to choose it or pay for it. I’m really tired so I’m just going to crash. Of course, I can’t really do anything else – it’s unimaginable that I could spontaneously walk out of this hotel room.
[The next day. There follows different shots of Evan posing in what is basically an undisguised advertisement for a hotel, with standard scenes of food being placed on tables and camels strutting down the beach.]
Evan Edinger [looking preoccupied and grumpy]: So we’re here with some great guys, these guys from Youtube who I know – I always meet up with them everywhere I go [the camera briefly acknowledges a delegation of rather gormless-looking young Youtubers.] There’s also this guy, my nameless friend [there appears a solemn old man dressed incongruously in beachwear]. And I have a problem, because we were meant to take some shots of the beach with my drone but they confiscated my drone at the airport. So what’s with the drone, my nameless friend?
Tunisian Minister of Tourism: The men have been court-martialled. It won’t happen again, sir.
Evan Edinger [smiling boyishly]: Well, I guess a seasoned travel journalist would have known not to try to take a drone through Tunisian airport security. Whoops!
Minister: If you’d care to point your camera this way, sir, there is some interesting traditional music from the saffron pummellers of Djerba…
[Evan manoeuvres his camera at arm’s length, a shot which always makes you feel like he is gripping you by the back of the head and forcing you to face what he wants you to see. Yet suddenly Evan spots a mangy street cat and, showing all of his nous as a seasoned travel journalist, he rushes to stroke it.]
Evan Edinger: Oh, the kitty kitty! Oh, what a pretty kitty-kins!
Minister [sharply]: Quick – the injections! Then take him off to the spa, quick! [The security personnel close in on Evan].
[There follows some routine footage of food being placed on tables and sunbathers on dazzling beaches, all of it probably supplied by the Ministry of Tourism’s archive.]
Evan Edinger: So since we’re in Tunisia we could actually go to look at something which is authentically Tunisian and you can get in no other country, like, uh, the mosaics at the Bardo museum or the medieval medina. But instead – and this is crazy, my friends! – we’re going to a casino! Yes, I know there are casinos in every country but I did quite well at maths in school and I have this geek persona which has to be maintained for my subscribers and so a casino allows me to talk all about me.
[We go on a tour of a casino, at least as it is reflected in the various expressions on Evan’s massive face. Evan gives us his thoughts on the subject of gambling and why it is interesting to him, because he is into maths, but why it is not really for him, because he knows all about the probability of winning.]
[Day two. Evan steps on to the balcony of his hotel room.]
Evan Edinger: … but look at this view. This is yet again the same view as yesterday…. [Note: this is genuinely a quote from Mr Edinger’s travel vlog. There is next, in the real vlog, a chilling moment in which Mr Edinger jokes about having last night promised himself to “go for a run on the beach” when he woke up. He giggles at what he has said and the viewer gradually understands that Evan is joking about how lazy he is. This raises the astonishing possibility that our seasoned travel journalist might not be here to bravely promote Tunisia’s tourism in defiance of the jihadist threat, as we had first thought. Instead, he might have just never heard of last year’s massacre at Sousse, in which tourists literally ran for their lives down the beach. If you are showcasing Tunisia, “go for a run on the beach” are surely the very last words… oh, never mind!]
[A montage of Evan exploring a pretty coastal village. He orders a pizza for lunch and spends his meal complaining that all of the pizzas in Tunisia are covered in olives, which he doesn’t like, and so the cuisine of the whole country would be rearranged for him if people were thoughtful. Nobody intervenes to tell Evan to simply pick the olives off himself.]
Minister of Tourism: And if you point your camera this way sir, it will record some of the colourful street art for which Tunisia is famed… [the security personnel quickly conceal pots of paint behind their backs.]
Evan Edinger: Sure, let’s… oh but look, another kitty! Oh, the pretty fluffy-kins! Kitty kitty!
Street cat [maggot-ridden and with its eye hanging out]: Mrrwrrr!
Minister [to his men]: Before we get to the next town, have all the cats there hanged!
[Later in the afternoon.]
Evan Edinger: So now we’re in Tataouine, in the south-east of Tunisia. You might think it mildly worthy of remark that I’m here, barely fifty miles away from the town of Ben Gardane. Indeed, I might be in fact the first Western journalist to get so near to where Islamic State militants had tried to launch an invasion of the country earlier in…
Minister: You’ll edit that out, sir.
Evan Edinger: I’ll edit that out?
Minister: It’s very hot. If you died of sunstroke my men would have to bury you and your camera in the desert and then who would know? Just keep pretending that Tataouine is really an option for travellers and that any of your subscribers could come here and visit as normal. Keep refusing to mention the terrorist attacks and do this so strenuously that your viewers are left wondering whether you actually know about them at all. Film these beautiful native villages and their tourist souvenirs.
Evan Edinger: I’m fine with the total absence of journalistic responsibility, but I still have to link this back to me. So I’ll chat to my subscribers about cultural appropriation since it’s a topic which is urgently trending on Twitter and we naturally have to ride about on this mayfly. Earlier, you’ll have noticed me walking through the desert wearing a Berber headscarf. Many people on Twitter might accuse me of cultural insensitivity or of appropriating somebody else’s minority culture in a disrespectful way. Yes, they might think this of me for wearing an Arab hat and not for coming to a French-speaking country and failing to speak a word of French to anybody. We all need to be educated about how to be more respectful, but I only used the Arab hat to keep the sun off and otherwise, it’s not my fault, so why are you all blaming me? Why does everybody…?
[Whilst Evan is pouring his soul into the camera, jihadist militants burst out from behind him and commence a gun battle with the security personnel. Many die. Finally, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya steps over the bodies to approach Evan.]
Leader of ISIL in Lybia: If you’d like to come with me, sir, into the van and then we’ll take you to your next hotel, and buffet, and spa.
Evan Edinger: So I’m now in the back of a van travelling through the desert. I’ve been given these native handcuffs to wear, which is pretty cool. They’re comfortable and relaxing and quite stylish, uh, I guess, though some people on Twitter might accuse me of appropriating a minority culture. And now they’re cutting my head off – I hope this is complimentary as well, guys – but boy I’m freaking them out because my head has been cut off and such is my narcissism that it’s still talking and it will never stop talking about me. Yes, me, me, me! I don’t much like olives and the world has to know this and my contact lenses are itchy and I’ve sunburnt the side of my nose and I’m upset about how inconsiderate people are when they smoke in the same café as me and I need to provide a constant commentary about how much I slept last night and, oh look, a kitty! What a fluffy kitty kitty-kins!