The Jeremy Hunt Phenomenon

Posted on June 12, 2019

For those of you who follow the news, it is now getting to the point where calling Jeremy Hunt, Jeremy Cunt, is going viral. The latest unfortunate perpetrator being the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire.

It was a toe snapping, yet comical moment where in some sort of blind panic, Derbyshire somehow blamed men for her misdemeanour. What made her say that is anyone’s guess?

The obvious answer to Derbyshire’s misfortune comes from various explanations of the ‘Freudian Slip’ or even ‘The Imp of the Perverse’.

Some have suggested that it keeps happening because those in media circles socialise together. When they do so, they refer to Jeremy Hunt as Jeremy Cunt. This is because, apparently, he is not a popular character.

Really? That seems quite a simplistic answer. I think it is more likely that the original gaffe (by James Naughtie I think?) is so entrenched in the presenter, it has become contagious. The determination not to say cunt (widely regarded as the worst profanity) means it is at the front of the mind and just comes out.

Frank…I Mean Jim Cannon!

I can recall having a similar issue many years ago when I had a client called Jim Cannon. For some reason, my determination to call him Jim was overridden by a perpetual desire to call him Frank. This was due to my memory of the 1970’s TV detective, Frank Cannon.

The first time I did it, it was laughed off. The second time, I could tell it was annoying him. Bizarrely, as a result, my desire to get it wrong again actually increased. Thereafter, it descended into a farce and got to the point where I was so confused, I once said, “Good morning Jim…sorry…Frank!”

It seems that once saying the wrong thing is stuck in our heads, the ability to avoid saying it becomes less. I have tried reading about it and there many theories and counter theories about ‘slips of the tongue’ but nothing concrete.

I will let you look it up and decide but personally, I think ‘The Imp of the Perverse’ is the best explanation. It is a common human condition that gives us the urge to say or do something that will be of no benefit. In extreme cases ‘The Imp of the Perverse’ can be dangerous. Fortunately, in general, it is just a bizarre urge to cause yourself embarrassment.

Of course, it doesn’t help TV broadcasters that Jeremy Hunt is often regarded as being a bit of a cunt.

An obvious issue when your name is Hunt.


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