It is time for me to start a fetish club.
Being offended has risen to the state of sexual pecadillo, it probably always has been.
The clenched fist, the placard, the letters written in inky spittle, the physical attacks motivated by moral and religious outrage that can only be assuaged by bloodshed or sexual threat, who needs intercourse or bondage when you can expel your bodily fluids through spit and sweat and outrage?
The club will have the leafy woodland fucking scenes of The Singing Detective projected on them, and Kenneth Tynan saying “fuck”, 2 Live Crew videos and anything made by BBC3 about the sex lives of teenagers. A statue of Divine eating dog excrement will be centrally positioned and will dispense vodka from its poop smeared mouth. Last Exit to Brooklyn, Lady Chatterley’s Lover will be read on corner stages in between performances of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s interpretations of The Bible and Koran. The bar staff will all be wearing Jesus and Mo cartoon T shirts and Lenny Bruce’s corpse, found, photographed and with needle reinserted into his arm by conniving law enforcement publicists will be projected on the ceiling, and all that was forced on the cutting room floor from Ken Russell’s The Devils will be projected noisily on toilet doors every time you sit down on the lavatory, when you flush, a Bernard manning routine will be deafeningly played too close to your ears.
Everyone will leave at dawn, deafened by the ghastly disco of hate, sated by their night in a chamber of fury. They will blink into the dawn sun and feel morally superior and righteous, for they have been appalled. The following night, the building will be razed to the ground, the rubble of Divine and Jesus and Mo threads steamrollered flat. On its smoothed surface, all the letters expressing disgust will be made into a crazy paving of superiority.
Sometimes outrage is an alternative to action, at other times, an incentive to take action far more extreme than the initial “outrage”. It can be hard to know when to be outraged and when to just be infuriated. Outrage can come from empathy or it can blind you to empathy.
I am not sure what is on more outrage list. Should I ever make a top 50, Nick Hornby list that prioritizes my feelings of outrage, I know that female genital mutilation would be considerably higher than “some cartoons”. Outrage is very marketable, it is good for drumming up business, for increasing the advertising rate on your news site, for checking your TV show is trending on twitter by placing someone who appalls on your panel. Sometimes you see the outraged left unsatisfied and confused because an initial burst of pulsating umbrage has led to the outraging changing their position, leaving the outraged frustrated and aroused but with nothing to thrust into as their fury hole has closed.
(There was some confusion when the story of prosecution for junked tomatoes was speedily, and rightly in my opinion, sorted http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2548421/A-licence-steal-Let-freegans-raided-supermarket-bins-33-cakes-cheese-mushrooms.html )
I think I was a more censorious and certain youth, age has helped increasing my healthy doubt, but not such a level of doubt that I find myself in a constant state of inaction.
I am infuriated by enough things to spent half my stage life venting, but I try to keep my outrage things that really appall me. I have been so hasty to outrage in the past that I haven’t stopped to think why it really matters. I get confused by the column inches devoted to rude cyclist MPs with gate demands or cartoons. If a cartoon insults your deity, then revel in the joyful sensation of the scribbling artists watching their pens agonisingly melting into their hands in the eternal flames of whatever image of hell floats your boat.
Outrage seems worth saving for real pain, real damage to lives, for people starving, dying, tortured, wrongly incarcerated, for the rest, I suggest umbrage. Seems to me that outrage is frequently a convenient fog to stop us paying attention to things that might really matter. If you are going to be apoplectically furious about a joke or a bottom in a TV drama or a poem, what a wonderful world we have to have the time to put that in our top 10 issues of the day, though maybe we are not really paying attention.
Anyway, I have to go back to painting my giant Divine statue, now what mix of grey and brown makes tip top dog poo lip glaze.
I am off to Uckfield, Eastbourne, Leamington Spa, Norwich, Sheffield, Bristol, Salford and probably a town near YOU. All details HERE
also off to Skeptics in the Pub in Cheltenham and Oxford, my latest science stand up DVD is HERE