20 August 2010

Oh Libertarians

For my hundredth post bonanza, I have yet another fucking arsewit by the name of Serkan Toeran, from the FDP (German "Libertarians") who thinks "freedom" means "I like my money" and "state" means "other people get to have my money".
Women who choose to wear the burqa voluntarily cannot be accepted either, because individuals cannot control human dignity.
The burqa is not a religious, but rather a political symbol against our state order and a means of suppressing women
There are arguments for banning the burqa. I get that. But "liberal" parties and libertarians don't get to put them forward. We've had this before on minarets, but I've never seen it with this kind of language.

Friendly advice, you daft cunt. If you're going to pretend to be a party of freedom and very, very small government, maybe don't do down the individual or bang on about "state order". Otherwise people will start thinking libertarians and right-liberals are just a gaggle of skinflints, reactionaries and petty fascists throwing a wobbly about taxes. And that's meant to be a secret.

06 August 2010

Not The Barnet of a Straight-Talking Man

Interesting piece by Anwyn Crawford on Nick Cave, and why he's a woman-hating arsewart.

There are two main thrusts to her arguments, both of which are correct. The first is that Cave is a pretentious helmet. The second is more sophisticated and much more informative:
‘She’s wearing those blue stockings, I bet,’ Cave muses, an intriguing detail. She’s a smart woman, self-reliant; she doesn’t need him nearly as much as he needs her. ‘This desire to possess her is a wound,’ Cave croons, and then his voice turns hard, ‘and it’s nagging at me like a shrew.’ So the desire for a woman he can’t possess nags at him like the ultimate possessive, scolding woman. And now Cave arrives at the formulation of a paradox that has fuelled his entire oeuvre with increasingly tedious and puerile results: ‘But I know that to possess her is therefore not to desire her/ So that lil’ girl will just have to go!’ He shouts out his conclusion and the song shifts into a hideous death rattle, with Cave’s yelps sounding as strangled as his poor victim’s. He’s probably garrotting her with the stockings.
for Cave, as for his predecessors, women are both far better and far worse creatures than he – but whether they’re saints or sluts he has to kill them.
Basically, Nick Cave's songs display a rather, er, eccentric attitude to fanciable women, where both they and the desire to possess them are at once hated and fetishised. Fanciable women in Nick Caves songs also tend not to make it to the end of the song. Disturbing and intriguing, and probably exactly what the boy was after.

Cath Elliot has similar reservations about Eminem and Rihanna's new one:
My biggest issue with it is that so much of this “story” is told from the perpetrator’s point of view. We get to hear how awful being such a violent abusive bastard is for him, and how ashamed it makes him feel to be such a vile, despicable human being. And what with me being such a man-hating femnazi and all, I have to say my reaction to that level of self-pitying whining from a perpetrator of domestic violence is always going to be “Well boo fucking hoo mate, now shut the fuck up and let’s hear how the victim feels.” The problem here of course is that we don’t. We only get to hear, very briefly in the chorus, how much she enjoys it.
It's odd, while I'm not exactly pro-domestic abuse, I'd say the exact opposite: what the quintessential victim feels - pain, fear, anger, hate and so on - isn't that difficult to work out. I'm far more interested in thought-processes I can't identify with: people who abuse loved ones, and people who enjoy being abused by their loved ones. It's easy to think of yourself as the victim - questioning your own thought processes lest you become the perpetrator is a lot harder, a lot more socially necessary, and makes for much more exciting art.

Both writers are confusing two different debates: one feminist and one literary. "Should anti-heroes be given first-person narratives?" is a valid question if an old one, but not the same as "is it ever ok to punch your wife in the face?" and not one Cath Elliot addresses. It's also telling that she doesn't include any of Eminem's actual lyrics in her analysis. Anwyn Crawford does address, indirectly, the idea that it might not be Nick Cave but his characters speaking, but largely as a straw man and without any analysis of how this irony might work.
Ah, but Cave’s defenders like to point out, you are forgetting about the man’s exquisite humour! His delicately honed irony! He is a moral satirist without peer! (The subtext to this defence often being, ‘Lighten up, bitch!’). The notion that Cave is being ‘ironic’ has been used to excuse many of his worst indulgences, up to and including his pimp’s moustache. It is simply not true. As anyone who bothers to look up Cave’s press history will discover, the man takes himself seriously, very seriously indeed, and will threaten to break the legs – or worse – of any writer who dares suggest that his work is not nearly as good as he himself is convinced that it is.
The lighten-up-bitch brigade always assume that "it's just a joke" or "it's still a good song" somehow make it mean the opposite, or that "it's ironic" means disgusting attitudes can't be expressed through irony. Unfortunately, when the bitches they want to lighten up reply, they tend to mirror this, which is sad, as, in contrast, they're usually not complete idiots. Apart from the irrelevant pimpiness of the moustache, Crawford mistakenly assumes three things: firstly, that Cave doesn't pretend to take himself ludicrously seriously as part of yet another persona, secondly, that if he does take himself that seriously that it's not as a humourist and user of irony, and lastly that Cave's use of irony is humorous. It's not. It's gothic. Scroll up and look at his hair. It's gothic. End of discussion. Gothic.

Just like offensive humour, the gothic is a way of exploring and breaking taboos under controlled conditions. If we assume anything Cave says/sings/writes is him peering into a disturbed mind, it works the same as laughter: it says "this is not my opinion, but an abhorrent one I am pretending is my own for purposes of entertainment". Dark humour is the best example of this, but it works so well because both dark and humour rely on the same mechanism: looking closely at stuff you know to be wrong. Whether the gothic counts as proper irony is fairly irrelevant: it works the same way and is powerful in the same way. Crawford hits on this when she says:
I can still listen to The Birthday Party and find Cave’s sordid fantasies of woman-pie, kewpie dolls and six-inch gold blades stuck ‘in the head of a girl’ exhilarating and disturbing in equal measure.
I can't say for sure, but I imagine that, like most fans, if she found them less disturbing, she'd also find them a lot less exhilarating. There's an expectation of Nick Cave and, in this context at least, Eminem, to sing points of view you wouldn't agree with. Audiences come knowing not to agree with anything said, and if they do, to be unsettled by it.

What Nick Cave's defenders argue is "irony" is even simpler. Nick Cave is saying things that aren't his personal point of view, to an audience who know and expect exactly that. Writers do it all the time. Speaking in the persona of a violent misogynist doesn't make him or Eminem anti-woman, any more than writing Watership Down made Richard Adams a rabbit. This may not be healthy. It may be crass and tedious. It may still be misogynistic as fuck. But the gothic interior monologue is, to all intents and purposes, ironic, and irony is backwards. Nick Cave says things by saying the opposite. Eminem is clearly doing some kind of dialogue. To be fair, I think there probably are a lot of genuinely fucked-up attitudes to women in Nick Cave's music, and the less said about Eminem the better, but this demands a lot more analysis than "he sings about killing them". For fuck's sake, Murder Ballads averages 6.7 deaths per song. Misogynist or not, he's not a man who sings about things he finds pleasant or ethical. So let's instead look at what kind of women and treatment of women he finds unpleasant and unethical. He might still turn out to be a prick. There's still time.

Edit: The heartbreaking upshot of this kind of thinking is that PJ Harvey might actually be sane. I'm going to try and pretend that's not true though.

04 August 2010

Those Who Have Been Hurt

So I unfollowed Cunt of the Day on Twitter. The last straw was the inane, what-are-you-for pointlessness of giving the award to Ian Huntley, six years late, but what really made me decide that the occasional insult to neo-cons wasn't worth the massive, tedious reactionary streak was this. Specifically this:
The cuntishness of these two is far greater than that of Vicar Alex Brown who today has been found guilty of conducting hundreds of fake marriages
He did what? The dastard! The utter cunt.

Let's take a step back and look at what this awful, awful cunt did. He... he... Oh GOD I can barely bring myself to say it... he... [sniff]... he married people. To each other! Ah, says the cretin, but in doing so he facilitated illegal immigration.

Well then. Let's take a step back and look at what this awful, awful cunt facilitated. So controlled immigration of people we like is ok, obviously, but this is different, this is illegal immigration. It's a crime. They're basically criminals. Well, technically it's a civil offence. But still. Against the law.

What is it they're actually doing illegally though? Well, firstly, they've not got the right forms and permission slips. Secondly, apart from the ones that outstay their visas or do bogusasylumseekering, they enter the country illegally. And stay. Illegally.

Basically, the grievous offence of illegal immigration pretty much boils down to moving house without the proper paperwork. It's a victimless crime. It's victimlesser than a victimless crime. It's a crime where the only victim is the perpetrator, who is systematically fucked over by the society who despises him for arriving to be fucked over. If you can get your head round what a pathetic excuse for a crime that is, just think how mind-bogglingly harmless aiding and abetting it is. It's the victimless crime of victimless crimes, and Father Alex Brown doesn't deserve to be called a "bit of numptie at times", let alone a cunt.

Which brings me to my favourite bit. In the Guardian.
"We are particularly sorry for those who have been deceived and hurt by the actions of Father Alex Brown"
I can say with some authority that nobody has been hurt by the actions of Father Alex Brown. Anyone who has been hurt by the actions of Father Alex Brown deserves to be hurt. Hurt emotionally, hurt financially and hurt in the face with a big garden strimmer. If anyone who has been hurt by the actions of Father Alex Brown would like to get in contact with me, I will personally introduce them to what real pain is by tapping them gently in the groin with a small feather and rubbing their face with a silk cloth.

03 August 2010

My Bestest Bum-Chum Nick and His Soft, Soft Mouth

Ok, so I don't want to hammer this "feminists/gays/Muslims/[insert put-upon minority group] don't get jokes" meme, but I have to take issue with Laurie Pennie's latest-but-one. It's not so much a case of humourlessness, or not getting jokes, nor is it at all limited to any of those groups, but a very general failure by most people who analyse the politics of jokes to actually get to their message, or to separate the message from whether it's actually funny.

Anyway, Laurie takes issue with the nudges, winks and titters over the Con-Dem coalition, specifically the implication of David Cameron tenderly pushing his engorged penis up Nick Clegg's gently dilating anal opening. She largely sees the assorted innuendos as homophobic, saying:
Playground gay jokes have been employed across the political spectrum to cast aspersions on the new government from day one.
The conceit is dazzling in its banality, substituting genuine political analysis for sniggering dick-jokes: it’s Carry-On commentating, and it manages to belittle all parties involved while failing to enlighten us one iota about the reasons for the fractures already emerging in the new government.

The discomfort underlying all the "Eton fag" and "Brokeback partnership" catcalls is multifarious, but it’s hard not to get the impression that a coalition government is somehow not daddy enough for us; that political partnerships and electoral reform are somehow not manly enough for the tough, thrusting, winner-takes-all tradition of British politics. As any 13-year-old boy can tell you, anything with the slightest hint of hetero-abnormality is gay, and gay is, like, completely rubbish. Obviously.
The thing is, the theme of effeminacy doesn't seem to have come up much. The butt of this joke is not that they're gay, or a gay couple, it's that they're rather a mismatched gay couple. They're also really, really similar in appearance, background and demeanour, so the idea of them snogging another version of themselves is quite funny, especially since I'm pretty sure Dave would if he got the chance. Also, does anyone actually need enlightening about how a Tory/Lib-Dem coalition sank like a fucking rock?

There is a reason that the joke has to single out gays, and that's that it can only work because we know it not to be true. A heterosexual man and a woman as coalition partners wouldn't attract the same jokes because the jokes could quite feasibly be serious speculation, and therefore not jokes. Two heterosexual men probably aren't going to get together. Most importantly, the joke doesn't hinge on the idea that gayerism isn't normal, but on the idea that it is. Sure, it's nowhere near as normal as normal sex, but it's a normal thing that normally happens in normal life, just not necessarily between fully normal people leading fully normal lives. Fact is, we have got used to them being here and queer, even if that makes some of us even angrier.

Modern gay jokes are weird, anyway. Male characters copulating seems to be the punchline in an awful lot of Family Guy gags, and I'm not sure if Drawn Together even has any other plot devices. But just pointing at man-sex and tittering has just lost its punch. What both programmes have in common is that one, if not both, eager participants are clearly straight. The deviation we're meant to laugh at isn't from the societal norm of heterosexuality, but from the character's personal norm of heterosexuality and the societal norm of picking one or the other and sticking to it.

We're now at the point where homoeroticism is a - fuck it - the standard pisstake explanation for masculine closeness. Bush and Blair, Tim and Mike, Bert and Ernie (even though lovers tend not to sleep in separate beds), Sam and Frodo (even though it's clearly the reclusive old queen Bilbo and his "favourite nephew"). Any friendly relationship that gets too close to be normal gets upgraded to a sexual one, where that kind of closeness can be normal. What we shy away from is not two men loving each other and fucking, but two men loving each other and not fucking. Normalisation does take place, and I'm still confused as to why we're so threatened by fully-clothed masculine closeness, but homosexuality (or maybe just sexuality in general) seems more like a tool here than a threat.

Red hot Cameron-on-Clegg action isn't funny because poofs are funny, or a dismissal of their actual political relationship. It's funny because irresistible sexual desire is actually a far more plausible explanation than any political one for why either would go near the other, let alone form a government. It's also great gross-out humour, not because two men together is gross, but because these two men together is completely fucking rank. Polished, rubbery, pristine-haired, used-car salesman RANK.