Glastonbury Festival ban an anti Tory Punk band

Glastonbury Festival has a long history of being against the establishment and fighting against various injustices of the world. This year a punk band Kildren were due to play Shangri La, one of the late night areas of the festival. The band have a song which goes like this…

It’s clear there’s a message even if its delivered in a way that isn’t nice and middle class.and all Guardian readery. The festival has decided to remove the band’s invitation to play after a media campaign to ban them, so a band who’d have probably played to maybe a few thousand people won’t be playing and the festival cracks a little in the face of the establishment.

Of course, they’d never have invited anyone previously to play songs which celebrate the death of any Tory…

Oh.

 

Listen, I get the current climate is not a good one and that it is, sadly, turning violent, but sometimes music needs to be angry, and sometimes it needs to fucking shock us to our senses. I adore Glastonbury and have done so in the 27 years I’ve been going but this is a nonsense as the festival bends to the establishment in an act of censorship because that’s what it is. We need music to challenge us at times otherwise all we end up with is pish like The Killers playing for the nTh time…

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The Faiytale of New York outrage sums 2018 up in a sad, pathetic nutshell

In 1987, The Pogues and KIrsty MacColl release the classic Fairytale of New York; a song about Irish immigrants in old New York City. In particular Irish immigrants who had fallen on hard times and become alcoholics and drug addicts. It’s a story and lead singer Shane McGowan and MacColl play characters. This is something that for years has been seen as, well, obvious.

But we now live in 2018. Nuance and understanding has been replaced by an urge to outrage, even censor and I speak of the use of the word ‘faggot’ in the song. It has caused predictable, if depressing internet outrage with the usual cries of the word being changed, or even banning the song.

However context, and knowledge, is everything. If seen through a purely American cultural eye, the word ‘faggot’ means one thing and is a horrible, dreadful word. In the context of the song, it’s an old Irish word for a lazy bastard. If you listen to the actual song you can get that from the context of the song even if you’re utterly unaware of the Irish language. Yet the word is going to be clearly offensive to casual listeners as it does leap out with glorious spite so it’s a good thing that back in the day McGowan and MacColl listened to the same argument and made an edited version.

in a recording for the TV programme ‘Top of the Pops’ in the UK (with Shane McGowan), Kirsty changed the lyrics slightly to ‘You scumbag, you maggot, you’re cheap and your haggard’ – wording which was later used by Maire Brennan in Ronan Keating’s cover version.

That’s right, there’s an approved edited version out there because kids, we had this debate and a compromise was reached. Radio stations and TV programmes had a choice of what version to play prior to the watershed, with both versions being played for years before most of the time the original version of the song was played.  Words have meanings beyond whatever the mainstream context think it does, in America at least, and this isn’t the first time an American company have cried foul over the word after Facebook banned Mr Brain’s faggots, which in context was discussing the pork based dish famous in the north of England.

If I was being a dick, I’d be moaning about how American culture and language overrules all others and how some of those complaining can’t see their cultural imperialism in action. I won’t though.

Unfortunately what we have now are people screaming ‘BAN IT’ and another group arguing for the use of the word regardless of context or to try to actually just use it to offend those screaming ‘BAN IT’ and the snake eats its tail. The fact is the song exists. Words have different meanings depending on the context and what language you’re speaking in, and before jerking one’s knee perhaps search to see if the OUTRAGE you’re feeling now about something from the past, possibly before you were born, has had a debate and even a compromise delivered.

Art of any kind can be appreciated for the time it was made, the intent of the creators and the standards of the day. Sometimes that art will offend today’s sensibilities. Hiding from it doesn’t make it go away and censoring it without the consent of the creators is a dangerous path in whitewashing the past. In this case it’s a situation where the word doesn’t mean what many think but, the creators gave us a compromise. We now live in a world where this sort of thing happens far too often and this isn’t a good thing for society which is becoming insular and censorious.

Political Correctness Gone Mad!

The other day it struck me that political correctness is dead, well, the idea that political correctness was supposed to be the rules in which a society would ensure that people would be decent, nice and respectful towards each other regardless of who they were even among the left who pushed the concept in the first place.Sure, we never really had this supposed nirvana in the first place but there was a time when things were better but those days are long gone.

What happened is the rise of a number of things from ‘lad’ culture in the 90s, to events like 911 enabling people to say and do what was abhorrent based upon a ‘fight against terrorism’, to the rise of the internet and the endless search for clicks. There’s a multitude of culprits but it all boils down to people wanting to say or do what they want without any consequence, and by ‘consequence’ I mean that if you call someone a ‘faggot’ then expect some backlash to that. However most of those decrying ‘PC culture’ cry the loudest when they, or something they hold personally sacred, are the subject of mockery or attacked, showing the concept of ‘anything is fair game’ applies only to a limit defined by the individual which normally at some level attacks their identity.

And before the left sit back too smugly, things like the ongoing anti-Semitism scandal shows many in the left willing to cast aside basic concepts of respect and empathy in order to push racist tropes or to get lost in the midst of identity politics.

Which brings me to this excellent video on the subject which discusses things from an American perspective, but still counts in the overall discussion.

I think where we are is a lack of empathy. A gamified culture where people are driven into echo chambers which give rise to things like Comicsgate or that <insert religion here> is behind all the wrongs of the world.

A bit more empathy and a bit more in the way of critical thinking because political correctness was all about simple respect and empathy for everyone, and if we’ve lost that then we end up with a world we have today and that isn’t a good place to be in.

A word for Comicsgate supporters

I’ve mentioned Comicsgate and the frankly, fucked upness of the entire ‘movement’ (they believe there’s a conspiracy to enact ”forced diversification” upon the American comics industry) which is trying hard to become a ‘thing’ like gamersgate but keeps failing badly. That however doesn’t make it a pain or something that sees people involved in it doing their best to harass people (mainly women) in the industry or just interested in comics.Every now and then they do something so depressingly fucked up it makes you depressed. to be sharing the world with these people.

The latest blip goes like this. An old interview with the late Darwyn Cooke was posted, which prompted the poster to say that were Cooke still alive, then he’d support Comicsgate. This caused Cooke’s widow Marsha to come online to Twitter and put people straight.

You’d think people would have the intelligence, if not the decency to accept Marsha Cooke’s word as after all, she would have known if he husband was a homophobic, racist, misogynist with strong feelings of woeful self-pity. But no, that isn’t what happened. Instead Marsha was attacked by Comicsgate supporters, and you can see some of the replies here. You can also get a larger picture of what Cooke was dealing with in this Bleeding Cool piece. In that latter piece it’s clear that Ethan Van Scriver (one of the so-called creators of Comicsgate_ is doing his best to stoke things up while seeming ‘reasonable’ but a reasonable man wouldn’t carry on wittering about SJW’s while letting his followers pile on the widow of a man they’re trying to claim as ‘one of theirs’.

This for many was enough so a variety of creators have spoken out against the Comicsgate crowd who themselves say are just ‘criticising’ the industry. Putting aside the fact there’s little good in the way of comics criticism out there (a topic for another time) the idea that Comicsgate is about criticism is nonsense. They clearly want to return to some long gone time when it was only boys and men who bought American superhero comics (and we’re only talking about this particular genre) and women are reduced to bit roles at best.

These people are of course the same folk being Hoovered up by the ”alt-right” movement because out there in the world there’s a lot of sad, angry young men looking for easy reasons to blame what’s wrong in their life on others. Which is where people like Van Sciver come in to poke, and feed the issues these people are suffering with so that gay, lesbian, trans, black, Asian, or indeed anyone not a white American male is blamed for all the wrongs with comics and these people participating in comics is making the industry die. And here’s Van Sciver to make things perfect with his creation, Cyberfrog.

You might laugh at this (and feel free, it is shite after all) but it raised over half a million dollars in a crowdfunding effort. There’s a lot of people out there willing to pay for this so it has a market and I don’t deny it shouldn’t exist, but where the problem lies is in Comicsgate trying to make the entire American superhero comics industry the same.

The fact is these people want less diversity, less variation and they want to return to a time when they thought (or in some cases, are told because they’re too young to remember these days) comics were simple and for a huge audience of sweaty boys. Fact is we’re in an actual Golden Age of comics. Anyone can create comics and publish them online while the market for comics isn’t translating to sales for Marvel and DC (and there’s a blog in itself as to why this isn’t the case) there are more people from a more varied number of backgrounds interested and reading comics than at any time in the 35 years or so I’ve been in the industry in some shape or form.

People like Van Sciver keep his followers constantly angry, constantly locked as the victims unable to accept any responsibility for themselves and this alienates people from society. So for Comicsgate followers the ball is in your court. You can carry on like you are, or grow up and take some responsibility for your actions. Learn to be a better person and speak to people so you develop some empathy and you never know, maybe then you’re life will be better than harassing a dead man’s widow.

There’s nothing glorious in what Remembrance Day has become

When I was young Remembrance Day was a strange day. Parents and older family members would solemnly wear poppies, give what they could to the old boys and women who’d be collecting for the survivors of WW1 and 2. Latterly Remembrance Day became about remembering the dead of all of the UK’s wars from the world wars through to Korea, then on and on and on and on…

Remembrance Day was a chance to reflect; to hope never again would men and boys be sent to fight for the gain of politicians, tyrants and crooks. It was a chance to remember the horror of war and what the 20th century’s industrialisation of war could do to people. This pretty much was the case as I grew into adulthood until around about a decade ago when Remembrance Day became less about the solemn idea of Remembrance as in remembering the dead while hoping for it to never happen again, to one where the dead became ‘glorious’ and they died upholding a UK to keep it’s place in the world today.

Remembrance Day was in effect stolen by the ancestors of those who sent boys to die in muddy fields on barbed wire with their guts falling out. Politicians like David Cameron and demagogues like Nigel Farage ensured Remembrance Day became more of a celebration of the dead who died for the glorious cause of the United Kingdom and all it represents. The dead have become ‘glorious’ and violence has become the ultimate force of the state from which all other authorities are derived.

So we’ve had ‘Poppy fascists’ leap on people for choosing not to wear a poppy, and the poppy itself become a symbol now forever corrupted from its original intention. The poppy itself has always been a political symbol, but now it’s being used as a symbol of some sort of supreme imperial loyalty to the UK, and if you don’t wear it then you’re some sort of quisling and deserve public shaming or worse.

Remember the dead today. Remember how they died not in glory, but in pain and agony while the idea of ending all wars was lost for celebrating war as something to prove the power of a faded empire. Remember how they died in mainly pointless wars for the gain of politicians who never lost anything, and how they died for corporations to turn a profit because war now is not about defeating evil as WW2 was. Those days are long gone now.

The Guardian and the censorship of horror films

The Guardian is the so-called ‘liberal voice’ of the UK, and now proposes itself as one of the leading liberal voices online. It often comes out against horror films and this week, Jigsaw (a return of the Saw films) is released as this particular film series returns from the dead.

An article by Benjamin Lee was published in the paper decrying the ‘return of torture porn’ and yet again the paper sets their sights on the horror genre and in particular, ‘torture porn’ which they’ve written more or less the same article since 2007.

I get why middle class liberals at the Guardian may hates films like Jigsaw. They are after all designed for mass audiences and this sort of middle class sneering is aimed at all mass forms of entertainment, but it’s the priggish sense of superiority from the contributors and commentators mixed with a barely suppressed push for censorship that should be concerning. This isn’t to say I think Jigsaw will be a good film, it probably won’t be as barring the first Saw film there’s pretty thin pickings in that series but I get why people watch them. These are rollercoaster rides. The audience can safely wallow in gore, enjoy a few mild scares and go home safely. Yeah, the films are shite without any real importance but so what? Censoring them wouldn’t work but it’d make these middle class liberals happy they’re controlling the ‘masses’ for what they think is their own benefit.

Violent and gory stories are part of our culture. They’re embedded in religion, history and culture, so while things like Jigsaw may be bad films but they’re just part of who we are. Censoring for the wider public good is simply, bollocks and perhaps the middle class media shouldn’t be so sneering at such entertainment because people might enjoy them for what they are?

Mel Brooks and political correctness

Mel Brooks popped up on Radio 4’s Today programme to talk comedy, and his comments have hit the usual outrage. Essentially his point is this;

“Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behaviour.”

What that means is that anything is up for grabs in comedy, as it should be and even he draws a line, as it should be.

The director said he could find comedy in almost everything but conceded there were areas even he would not mine for material.

“I personally would never touch gas chambers or the death of children or Jews at the hands of the Nazis,” he told the BBC’s Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Everything else is ok.”

These should be uncontroversial comments but this is 2017 and saying that anything is up for grabs means people will react in a way to prove Brooks point. Now remember, Brooks has been alive a very long time, and has fought actual real Nazis as well as breaking down barriers with material like this.

Yet in stepped members of the modern mainstream left who decided having a pop at Brooks rather than actually grasping what he said was the thing to do.

Well, that’s a question; when did he do anything worthwhile? I mean it isn’t as if he fought Nazis in WW2, reshaped the world of comedy in the 60’s, made some of the finest comedy films of all time in the shape of The Producers, Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, Young Frankenstein, not to mention producing The Elephant Man and hiring David Lynch, not to mention producing David Cronenberg’s version of The Fly. His C.V. is beyond impressive and in recent years he’s been semi-retired which anyone shouldn’t begrudge him.

But no, rather than deal with the point that everything is up for grabs in comedy the supposed ‘liberal left’ rail against Brooks based not upon what he’s done, but based on their own identity politics. And Brooks has a point. Can you imagine a major Hollywood studio letting this into a major film in 2017?

Me neither, but deconstruct that scene and it’s clearly attacking racism by using language which isn’t ‘politically correct’ which is a phrase that’s moved on from the Stewart Lee definition.

Essentially it is depressing to see the left adopt the same knee-jerk rhetoric and intolerance as the right. There’s a lot of comedy out there which is nice, safe and bland but for those of us who don’t want to endure Michael McIntyre we want to have the ability to offend and attack those people, attitudes and institutions that comedy should. What’s hypocritical about many of those attacking Brooks is they’re ageist which shows how pathetic some of them are.

Comedy should point out truths and when it can, punch up at everyone and although intent is also key (which is why Bernard Manning was a bigot as he never dared punch up) Nobody should get a pass because it might sound offensive to someone, regardless of their politics. Otherwise we’re crossing into a censorious society where the powerful can potentially escape because it doesn’t fit one’s politics to attack them.