MAGGOTS! Pukes! Pieces of amphibian shit! Your country needs you! My British Army recruitment campaign might need a bit of finessing, I’ll concede, but it has potential, don’t you think?

It’s nice to start the new year with optimism, and a cynicism-free clean slate. Nobody plans to get bogged down in negativity before Twelfth Night. There’s something tragically incongruous about swearing at a screen while fairy lights twinkle gently in the background.

Of course, staying away from the internet helps. If you’ve been busy living your best 2019 life – jogging, reading novels and preparing healthy sandwiches for your lunchbox – you’ll remain blissfully ignorant of whatever fresh hell is getting others exercised online.

I nearly choked on my vegan sausage roll when I saw the latest set of British Army recruitment posters, which shout insults at disaffected young people in a bid to attract their attention.

Just one short week ago I was waxing lyrical on this page about the inspirational talent, commitment and passion of the current generation of young Scots, and now a recruiting sergeant is bellowing at them that they’re SNOW FLAKES, ME ME ME MILLENNIALS, BINGE GAMERS, PHONE ZOMBIES and SELFIE ADDICTS. And then suggesting these very attributes make them a perfect fit for the modern warzone. You couldn’t make it up.

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I’ve heard about this technique – it’s called negging. I once even witnessed it being attempted in the wild (specifically, in a branch of All Bar One on a damp Tuesday night).

The idea is that the best way to get the attention of someone you wish to seduce is by insulting them, often in the form of a back-handed compliment. Something along the lines of “You’re very pretty for a fat girl”, or “I’ve always been strangely attracted to crooked teeth”.

You might like to think this clumsy, cringe-worthy approach would never work, but I’m afraid you’d be wrong. Admittedly it works a lot less well if your eavesdropping pal interjects with “excuse me, are you negging?”, but unfortunately I can only be in one place at a time, and that place is rarely a branch of All Bar One or a British Army recruitment office.

It works, according to psychologists, because by temporarily lowering a person’s self-esteem you increase their need for acceptance. And by making them feel lesser, you lower their expectations of what they deserve. Your country needs you ... to feel a little bit bad about yourself, anxious about your future prospects and open to the idea of killing folk for a living. So you should bloody well tear yourself away from that phone for five minutes and march yourself off to be measured for fatigues. It’s for your own damn good.

With my supplies of new year cheer swiftly diminishing, I decided I might as well go the whole hog and watch a campaign video too.

Reader, there was a lot to unpack.

It opens with our heroine – let’s call her Britannia – pulling a shopping trolley out of a ditch. I’m pretty sure this is a metaphor. On one level she’s a minimum-wage supermarket worker, but on another she’s a soldier rescuing a civilian child who’s been injured in an air strike. Clever.

A bitchy co-worker rolls her eyes as Britannia elegantly shepherds the trolleys/children into a shelter. “Millennials – useless,” grumbles an old fart wrapped in an orange lanyard. I’m not entirely clear, but I think this pair might represent jihadists.

Hang on though – someone else is watching and is impressed by what he sees. “Sounds like a perfectionist to me,” says the voice of the omniscient army recruitment overload. As Britannia helps some customers load shopping bags into their car boot, he sagely adds: “Resilience”. Some soldiers unload packages of humanitarian aid from a lorry. Meaningful.

The jihadists continue their reign of terror, and instead of reporting them to HR Britannia fantasises about hunting them down with a semi-automatic weapon then watching from behind a heat-proof shield as they go up in flames. By the time she’s walking home, and being heckled from a car by Jihadi Jane, she knows what to do. Her army needs her.

Of course, the army is the ideal place to escape bullying co-workers. I’m sure none of the PHONE ZOMBIES being targeted by this film will have the wit to google “Deepcut”. They’ll be too busy posting selfies (an indicator of “confidence”, according to the extraordinary gaslighters who cooked up this campaign) and demonstrating their “drive” by playing computer games non-stop.

The production values of Britannia’s Revenge are impressive but I feel the filmmakers have missed a perfect opportunity to insert some Bandersnatch-style alternate realities. Just think how much more exciting it would be if you could direct the main character to ram someone in the stomach with a trolley, or throttle someone with their own lanyard.

Press the right sequence of buttons and instead of a soldier Britannia might end up as an occupational therapist, or a crusading employment lawyer. Spend hours cracking the creator’s code and she might even become an MP, voting against air strikes that risk blasting civilian children into ditches. Meta, as the kids would say.

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