Magazines are always telling you to swap stuff. How you can save £800 on a beautifully cut belted black coat that makes you look like a cross between Lauren Bacall and Joan Crawford by buying a ratty one stitched by weeping peasant children from Primark (belt not included.) How you can save 600 calories by swapping a sextuple-chocolate muffin topped with a Mars Duo for half an After Eight mint, which isn't going to quieten anyone's raving PMS. How you can drop a dress size practically unnoticed by swapping the Pizza Hut blow-out plus Star Wars DVD marathon for a piece of carrot peeling and a brisk run over to Buenos Aires.
And it's all bollocks, isn't it? So I thought I would contribute by suggesting my own top four pop-culture phenomena, why you should swap them and what you could swap them for. It's just a bit of fun, so if you want to lynch me, keep it verbal. We're all adults now. Allegedly.
Some people enjoy watching anything between a dozen and a gross of identikit Americans leaping around in outfits that fell out of Bring It On. It troubles many of my dear friends not a whit that these wide-eyed teens all have teeth like an orthodontist's wet dream and a choice of three noses between the lot of them. Apart from the teacher whose acid one-liners are so often claimed to be "the only reason I watch it, honestly", I can only presume the cast were ordered wholesale. Personally I find it frighteningly surreal, depressing, vacuous, giddy and...I could go on. Swap for the Truman Show, which at least acknowledges the sense of constant surrealistic nightmare. Or Brave New World. Gleeks (I shudder as I type) are oh so many Lenina Crownes, ultimately greeting my horrified face with a blank look and an offer of yet more visual soma. No offence.
You may be Team Jacob, your pubescent sister may be Team Edward, I represent Team Get A Frigging Life. Death-heavy romance or psychological abuse with fangs, take it your way. With marketing using the same colour scheme, poses and font as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's cynically pushed as cutesy paranormal for the impressionable generation. Instead, watch Twinklight, a low-budget cinematic treat which consists of two over-made-up, skinny teenaged lads getting grubby while wearing crappy pound-shop plastic fangs. It doesn't pretend to be anything it's not, and at one point I think that one lad catches a fang in the other's foreskin. Fun for all the family.
3. The Inbetweeners
For a show so lauded for its insightful realism, it holds no resonance for my own teens. Four irksome posh lads from Guildford try and fail to get some sex. Think Carry On with A-levels. They are not real teenagers. None of them ever order a butter pie in a chippy because it's the cheapest. None of them have ever bought a pint of milk off a milk float at six a.m. on a Saturday morning while they waited with a raging hangover for the first bus out of Huncoats. They never eat their own weight in Dairy Milk, gloomily pondering why their legs are so huge. Swap for Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, which contains fag-cadging students, people with ordinary jobs, and a concept of upmarket socialising as drinking in a pub where the staff occasionally scrape the sick off the floor. It's like coming home, I tell you.
Sub-pub karaoke sung by risible human vacuums desperately clawing at the cliff edge of potential fame. Swap for real pub karaoke, which at least involves leaving the house.