One of those blog posts I started writing while drunk. More questions than answers…
Sometimes, when I can feel how grey my hair is, I worry that all reality is now projected out from a screen. The only subjects of conversations are television and web related, and the main area of discussion of those things will also be behind a screen. And this screen is a place of rolling outrage, how can I tell when I am being carried along with the right outrage and when am I so lost in the fog of it all my critical thinking is marooned somewhere many miles from my mind. It is also a place where opinion can be demanded, the act of not having an opinion is seen as an act confirming that you are with “the enemy”. The defence that you may know nothing of the situation is not enough, you must know everything at once, which can lead to understanding as shallow as condensation.
I found myself in something of a conundrum over Dapper Laughs. I started to receive requests to sign letters and petitions, but frankly I lacked the armour of knowing much of what he was about. (as a sideline, there really are too many petitions now. The frequency and ease of signing petitions has begun to make them as potent as felt-tipped graffiti on a pub toilet door demanding the freedom of a possible false felon incarcerated due to a miscarriage of justice. How lucky the Lord Chief Justice visited the Lamb and Flag and his bout of diarrhea, brought on by the richness of a veal lunch, led to him seeing the words, ‘Free Barry Gubbins’)
The Dapper Laughs’ comedy I had experienced seemed such a retrograde step for anyone who aspires to human progress (yes, yes John Gray, I know even that is not a certainty). It seemed to be nasty, disguised as, or believed to be, cheeky, a return to sexism and abuse towards women, so I could see why the ire was so furious.
I imagine Daniel, AKA Dapper, doesn’t really hate women. It’s all “just a laugh” and everyone should just lighten up. It is a lot easier to lighten up if you don’t feel nervous on each late night train you are traveling on alone, or when you can walk down a street and just be a person getting from one place to another as opposed to being a beacon of sexual possibility.
On the other hand, I worried that the level of fury far outweighed the shows reach and impact. Is there a danger of taking it too seriously, of gifting it so much worth that it turns it from being a minor cultural rash to being considered a mighty plague in itself. By treating it with such importance, does it elevate it? Does this become a totem pole for the “it’s PC gone mad, we can’t even have our jokes now” pack wolves to dance around?
I was particularly wary of signing anything which demanded it be taken off air. Wasn’t that exactly the sort of action I was against when it was aimed at The Singing Detective or Jerry Springer the Opera?
Have I reached my point of “ban this filth”?
What level of possible damage must something contain for it to be banned?
And was there something better for us to aim at?
Is bringing down lowlife pop culture aiming at the softer targets, or the less malignant targets that are merely more luridly visible?
And I started to think of the TV people rubbing their hands with delight as they felt “so naughty” as they delivered something which could be defended as ironic or “a character piece, don’t you get it?”
But it is a clumsy character piece, and you can quite easily take it at face value too. Dapper Laughs is not the fall guy here, there is no evidence I have seen that the real intention is to laugh at him. The character is too close to standing and baying by a pinball machine in The Accused.
Does it exist as a product of that inaccurate thought that misogyny is dead, that genders are on equal footing, that now women have had victory, it’s time to have a go?
I think of the scenes of unease I see when I travel late night on public transport (and I don’t think it is because of my presence, my nose will rarely leave my book).
Apparently, while writing this, it has turned out it is all over now anyway.
I don’t think it should be banned. I don’t think it should be taken off thoughtlessly due to pressure or petitions alone. I think it shouldn’t have been on in the first place because we really should have moved on by now.
We haven’t advanced quite so far in our attitudes to bathe in the warm nostalgia of hate and derision.
Hopefully ITV’s decision came from a realisation that there’s enough of this readily available to observe if you want it on most nights, without putting it on TV too. Just set up a hide in your local nightclub, sit with Bill Oddie and see what you see.
Do I feel antagonism between a vague libertarian me and some morally censorious soul?
I do. But the more I was shown, the more that antagonism eased. (when I first read Lee Kern’s expertly drafted letter, I was hesitant, then I saw some more. Too late…)
Is Mr Laughs worthy of so much focus? I wouldn’t have thought so.
Will something useful come out of this? Hopefully.
My partner in anger, Michael Legge, and I now also do music podcast thing, with some anger too https://soundcloud.com/vitriolamusic/vitriola-6-tedium-becomes-magnificent