Wednesday, 25 August 2010

It takes a village to raise an activist

I don't think this kind of thing has an impact on the unconverted, frankly. It's not even preaching to the converted; it's titillating the converted. I think the people who say we need satire often mean, "We need satire of them, not of us." I'm fond of quoting Peter Cook, who talked about the satirical Berlin cabarets of the '30s, which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the Second World War.
 - Tom Lehrer
I went to see Jeremy Hardy talk at a festival last month, and he was asked about this - whether he feels that being a lefty funny-man is futile, pointless; essentially, why he bothers 'preaching to the choir' (isn't it odd how they never ask Bernard Manning why he bothers preaching racism, sexism and general bigotry to a choir full of racist, sexist bigots?).

They're asking the wrong question. They're assuming that he does what he does to convert people: that a successful gig is one where an arch-Tory war-mongering privatiseer has a Damascene conversion, sees the light, jumps up in the middle of the show and bellows, "I was wrong! Boris is wrong! Thatcher... yes, I see it now; the scales have fallen from my eyes: you, lefty funny-man, you have brought me to the truth: THATCHER WAS WRONG!"

Which, in fairness, would be super-cool...

Hardy says he does it to keep our spirits up. Being a right-on pinko wannabe world-saver is depressing enough at the best of times - and right now, what with the whole recession thing, the  Contemptible Coalition, the way the plans to ensure that 'everyone shares the austerity burden!' mysteriously hit the ladies and the poor hardest, and this fucking weather (IS THIS AUGUST?), it's downright miserable. So cheering us up on the long damp drudge to the dole queue sounds like quite a noble endeavour. Someone's got to save the world; someone - like kind Mr Hardy - has to cheer up the Guevaras and Pankhursts when they're shattered after a long day's  world-saving and just want a sit-down, a cuppa and a giggle.

Besides, 'titillating the converted'? Someone's gotta do it.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

STOP PRESS (again)

ACTUAL HEADLINE: Self-service tills have lead to longer queues for shoppers.

ACTUAL RESPONSE OF THE NATION: Gosh, really? Say it ain't so! But we thought that all this technology was for us! We thought it would make life better, quicker, easier; we thought it was another step on the yellow-brick road to our robot-assisted utopian future! It had nothing to do with gigantic supermarkets' desire to save money and lay off staff, taking away any meagre claim they may have had to improving our lives with their ubiquitous strip-lit shops filled with over-priced and over-ripe vegetables, did it?

Did it?

This is not news and does not belong in a newspaper. It is obvious and as such belongs in an obviouspaper.

Which, for the Mail, is just weird.

Oh well, I suppose if you talk rubbish for long enough, you've got to hit the odd fact once in a while, if only by accident. Monkeys, typewriters; even a stopped watch is right twice a day.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

If only...

So tragically, it appears that is a spoof. I say tragically not just because articles such as Vatooing: new female freshman trap for upstanding college men (them wanton hussies have been getting "suggestive tatoos, placed as near possible to their pubic and compelling sin regions" - sin regions! I say again, sin regions!) are less holy-heathens-I'm-going-to-actually-die funny when they're not real, but also because, if the site were genuine, this would be my favourite targeted advertising whoopsie of all time.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Sexism and science combine to prove definitively that women make the best firefighters

BREAKING NEWS: Men and women not from different planets!

Well, thank heavens that's settled. If only someone could have figured this one out sooner - in 1992, say! Or, perhaps, 500 BCE?

This whole idea of 'let's Accept Reality and Be Grown Up and Acknowledge Gender Differences (if we're allowed to by the OVERWHELMING ORTHODOXY OF PC FEMINIST THEORY, which obviously runs THE WHOLE WORLD) - Men Are Men and Women Are Women and we're not saying that one's better than the other but they are ACTUALLY DIFFERENT SPECIES' discourse is so dishonest. It presents itself as the brave commonsense tellin'-it-like-it-is-against-the-establishment view, when it is in fact The Voice of Hegemony. And it completely fails to think the idea of immutable gender differences to its logical conclusion.

A case study! My very favourite concept: the 'Bloke Look'. According to this (no doubt painstakingly researched) thesis, men are incapable of, well, looking for things.

"Have you seen my keys?"
"They're on the side, dear, where you left them."
"Oh, silly me! Well, I only had A Bloke Look..."

So let me, for one minute, take off my Extremely Annoyed At Sexist Stereotypes hat and ask: what if? What if men and women really are so different? If our behaviours, attitudes, and thought processes are so massively divergent that one's manly mannishness makes one worse at finding things? What do we do with that information?

Men would have to be banned from being firefighters, for a start.

Picture the scene. Your big burly Greek-god standard-issue Chippendale fantasy figure strides manfully out of a burning bungalow, muscles rippling mannishly and sweat dripping off his choice chiselled cheekbone. He clasps your darling puppy under one arm, while an iddy biddy kitten peeks out of his top pocket.

"My hero!", you sigh breathily. "You've saved Whiskers! And Fido, deartest darling Fido, you're alive!"

Something's missing, however. Something's wrong.

"But... Mr Fireman, did you not save my baby? He was in his cot, right by the dog basket, did you not see him?"

His face falls.


He's done it again.


But who can blame this poor fellow? It's not his fault. It's science.

"I only had a bloke look."


It's this kind of taking-things-to-their-logical-conclusion-and-then-a-bit-further which means that it's very lucky I'm not religious, or I'd probably end up fire-bombing sea food restaurants and taking pot shots at people exiting Specsavers.