This was meant to be a post about offensive comedy, where do you draw the line? do you draw the line? and so on. then I got caught up talking about something else with Tony Law. then I got confused. Then people started telling me my posts were too long and they really didn’t have that sort of time available in their lives. So this one stops with a “to be continued” cliffhanger. As usual, in writing this I am working out my own ideas and they may change at the pressing of “publish post”. Progress is looking back at the person you were a year before and realising they were more of a dick than you thought.
If I was Freud (Sigmund not Emma), would I think some of the material about women performed by “edgy” comedians suggested they had issues with their mother as suggested by a comedian’s wife the other day?
I had been talking with a comedian about the misogyny that seemed both increasingly apparent and contentedly cool on the comedy circuit (formerly the alternative comedy circuit). He told me of the clammy male attention his wife had received as she walked down the street pushing their children in a pram during the Edinburgh festival and how the men’s attitudes had reminded her of certain “edgy” comedians’ attitudes on stage.
Of course, it can’t really be misogyny can it because everyone is equal nowadays as long as you avoid some statistics (but these statistics may be worse than damned lies obviously).
After our conversation I was going up the escalator of Euston Station pondering how I might start a post on this subject – “Some of us by wealth, luck or judgment may now believe we live in a world devoid of misogyny, homophobia and racism, and so consider that everything is up for grabs because we’re all equal so fuck them if they can’t take a joke”. Something like that, I thought, but with better punctuation.
Then I walked out of the ticket gates and was confronted by something that made me reconsider the starting point – in front of me was a teenage girl in her bra and pants, looking at me as if she was looking at herself in a full length mirror. She was a video advert for Marks and Spencer prominently looking into the ticket hall, an inescapable image for anyone using the tube station. I felt disconcerted. Let’s make this clear, I am a red-blooded male, but it turns out all females are red-blooded too, it’s an evolutionary requirement, a by-product of delivering oxygen around our body, if I wasn’t red-blooded I would be long dead, it’s nothing to do with heterosexuality or virility. Red blooded women are not more manly, they are just more alive.
Though this advert was meant to excite, as all adverts are, I felt disappointed by this retrograde step in culture. Isn’t this just another image, like page 3 but not seedy because it’s that nice shop that does those guilt free lentil crisp snacks and lambs wool sweaters. It is prominently there to remind us all, “you know women, they wear bras. Oh and in certain satin pants you can see more of their bottoms, look, here’s hers” Was this another woman as object illustration that makes my dislike of it seem like some po-faced “new man” of the 1980s who is weak because he does not wish to conquer? Did I spend too many of my formative years with feminists who made me read Andrea Dworkin?
This was a reminder that all is not quite as equal as things first appear, perhaps the Spice Girls may not have delivered the promised freedoms much as Al Jolson might not have brought racial equality in the 1930s.
Traditionalists have been very good at creating an image of the left as humourless, even though they themselves are not so keen at jokes at their expense. Next time you see something left wing and humourless, read some Peter Hitchens and you will see that it is, at the very least, a characteristic present on all sides. I can recommend Peter Hitchens’ The Abolition of Britain, for a critique of it, why not buy my book (contains Ann Coulter too)
The propaganda about the left’s humourlessness and dogmatic rigidity was brilliantly examined in Culture Wars which charted the history of those myths that black bin liners were going to be banned for being racist by “loony left” councils and that all children were reading Jessica Lives with Eric and Martin, a picture book that suggested homosexuality was so normal children could live and eat cereal with gays. This was one of the weapons used to persuade people that section 28 was a good thing as it would prevent teachers from persuading pupils to be gay by telling them to read Oscar Wilde or Walt Whitman.
Though most of that is balderdash, like Winterval, repeat the myth enough times and it is true. Sadly, there are still those moments of humourlessness that pop up and we all hang our heads. I was talking to a left wing journalist who said that the demand for manholes to become personholes came up in a meeting recently. Let’s sort this out now, manhole? Womanhole? Personholes? Let’s just call them holes and be done with it.
Dealing with any of these things on stage can get you in trouble form both sides. I am still conflicted about the use of the word cunt. Partly I think this is because it’s seen as far more sexually charged in the US, and that reading is returning to some of the analysts of language in the UK. I just see it as a swearword, effective not because of what it originally meant but because it has such a hard sound. I called the actions of someone on twitter “cuntish” a month ago and was upbraided by someone that I deserved all I got for using a “gender specific abuse”. I attempted to explain that at no point in typing the word “cuntish” were my thoughts that this man’s actions were so nasty that the only thing I could think of was that they resembled female genitalia. I think that would be a compliment and I wouldn’t want him to think that. Intention is important. I know some will disagree as I am sure I will find out.
On another occasion I tried out some material about the thong being England’s burka, though one was insisted on in certain cultures, in other cultures there is unwritten insistence that you must wear certain things. But then that got into some sort about the near impossibility of being a true individual and the whole thing became too messy an idea and lost in my usual “sociologists has a nervous breakdown” demeanour. I realised the idea may be better served as a book published by Routledge with excessive footnotes and little worth
To show concern, to be serious at anytime, is to be weak, it is all a joke, this is brave new world, go to your feelie take you soma and shut up.
End of part one of a rambling thing that was meant to be a concise 400 words on comedy and offence but seems to be rapidly going out of control
My happiness through science tour continues, Exeter next, then Lincoln, Oxford, Leicester and many more, plus two angry shows with Michael Legge coming to Liverpool and Norwich – dates here