Laughing Through Gritted Teeth – Offensive Comedy and “Offensive” Comedy

A random clueless wee soul

A random clueless wee soul

So, the above wordings floated across one of my social media streams recently, causing my eyes to roll so hard that they’re still spinning and I feel a bit dizzy. There’s so much wrong going on here that I don’t even know where to start. Well, I suppose I agree with finding Russell Howard a bit boring. Don’t mind the guy, but I’m not doubling over with laughter. But has the author of this post considered that maybe the reason no one makes a fuss over Howard’s particularly brand of cheeky chap whimsy is cos, y’know, he’s never actually joked about raping someone? How about that? I don’t need to explain why joking to a woman’s face about her asking to be raped is a bad thing, do I? And also a terribly unpopular thing? Like, some people hearing such “jokes” might have been victims of sexual violence themselves and might find it just a teensy weensy bit upsetting? I don’t need to explain all that, do I?

Really?

Although this clown’s furious witterings are fucking silly and easily dismissed, they also struck an uneasy chord. You see, I am very much one of these “humourless feminist” PC Brigade members that doesn’t really find jokes at the expense of marginalised and persecuted groups very funny. But at the same time I absolutely adore comedy – particularly humour of a darker hue – and I really resent being made to feel like some constantly outraged member of the Social Justice Gestapo or whatever the fuck right-wing morons are calling people who consider the feelings of others this week. No, I don’t want to replace all comedic output on TV with a running tap – I want more and better comedy. Mind you, 30 minutes of a dripping tap would probably be an improvement on Dapper Laughs. In fact, just replace all of ITV2’s schedule with leaky tap footage. I’m sure no one will notice or mind.

"Howay, pet. Any chance of a second series?"

“Howay, pet. Any chance of a second series?”

My own feelings over Dapper Laughs are pretty ambivalent. Sure, he’s sexist, but he doesn’t have me absolutely clutching my pearls in shocked horror. If it’s definitely a character that Daniel O’Reilly was trying to play, as he claimed in his Newsnight interview, it was one that played all the wrong notes. He’s basically Sid the Sexist, but where it falls down is that Sid becomes the hero, not the pure fud asking a lassie if she wants to see his elephant impression and getting kneed in the baws for his trouble.

The other thing to note is that Dapper Laughs isn’t actually being banned. His show is not getting a second series, that’s all. The world doesn’t owe him a living, he isn’t Alan Partridge. The petitions going around, screaming for him to be CANCELLED or BANNED or SHOT INTO THE SUN RIGHT NOW actually make me feel a bit uncomfortable, as I don’t agree with the indiscriminate banning of things. Mockery, criticism and and the cold disinfectant of sunlight work far better in destroying ideas that are bigoted or just plain stupid. It’s like those sexist Topman T-Shirts there was a big fuss about a couple of years ago. There were calls to withdraw them for sale, which was a terrible idea. One thing I really value about getting older is that my patience for tossers and arseholes wears ever thinner, and T-shirts that clearly indicate that the wearer is a colossal bellend are fantastic time-saving devices, as I can avoid any interaction with such people from the get go.

This Is What An Arsehole Looks Like

This Is What An Arsehole Looks Like

What it really boils down though is the fact that the worst crime you can commit in comedy is being fucking boring and shite. Dapper Laughs is fucking boring and shite and unoriginal. The sexism is just the boring and shite icing on a boring and shite cake. His comedy doesn’t offend me for its outdated sub-Benny Hill nonsense, it offends me for being utterly dreadful.

As previously mentioned, I am a huge comedy nerd and a lot of my comedy heroes – Peter Cook , Jerry Sadowitz , Sam Kinison , Frankie Boyle , Stewart Lee , Chris Morris  – are all renowned for inhabiting the darker, more amoral shades of the comedic spectrum. Wow, a grim-faced man-hating feminazi who loves offensive comedy! OH MAH GAWD DID AH JUST BLOW YOUR GODDAMN MIND???

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This apparent contradiction got me thinking. What exactly is it that makes a joke “offensive”? What is it that makes Sam Kinison’s anti-women rants so bloody amazing and the same stuff from Jim Davidson just leaves one cold? Is it just because one of them’s a trendy cult hero, or is there more to it than that? How do you tell apart the sort of humour that seeks to indulge in lazy shock for shock’s sake, with no thought or effort put into it, from dark humour which pushes the boundaries of comedic taste and decency in a genuinely innovative and thought-provoking way?

The first x-factor to an offensive joke or routine that makes it work would probably be its intent, whether it relies on irony or makes a serious point. Frankie Boyle in particular has become a master at using offensive humour to convey more pointed messages about world politics. This is particularly evident in a joke he told on Tramadol Nights, about a news report from a warzone in which the correspondent speaks of the loss of a lone soldier’s life “and a bunch of dead n****rs.” It’s pretty obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that Boyle is commenting on the media’s habit of placing the value of the lives of ARE BRAVE BOYS above those of the foreign civilians caught up in conflict. The use of the N-word really drives this home. And so this is why, when The Daily Mirror deliberately took the punchline out of context to label Boyle a racist, he successfully sued them for libel.

Chris Morris is an incredibly skilful satirist, who’s talent is such that sometimes he doesn’t have to reach very far to make his point. The unforgettable Brasseye paedophile special remains a masterpiece, and I still laugh my tits off at the gag about Sydney Cook being blasted into space with a hapless 8-year-old child on board.

Morris’s Paedogeddon was intended to poke fun at mass media hysteria and hypocrisy over child abuse and the sexualisation of children, which was at its height at the time, and the tabloids completely missed the point in a spectacular way.

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The point! Whoosh!

Of course, sometimes the irony of a routine or character is lost. It’s clear in the case of Daniel O’Reilly that there was absolutely no irony intended in the character of Dapper Laughs, despite his protestations, but there are other acts where irony is present but missed by some sections of the audience. Stewart Lee speaks of fans of Al Murray, who think the bigoted, racist, sexist pub landlord he portrays on stage is meant sincerely. They think he’s laughing with them, not at them. “Laughing through gritted teeth at jokes they don’t understand like the dogs that they are,” as Lee puts it.

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Mmm crunchy, crunchy irony…

 

Of course, the second factor is that offensive humour has to be funny. I’ll forgive a lot if it makes me laugh, even if I also feel shocked or slightly ashamed of myself for laughing in the first place. Unfortunately, there are a growing number of young comedians, influenced by the likes of Boyle et al, who do not realise this and think making a string of offensive comments constitutes a routine. A friend told me a story about a visit to a comedy night for up-and-coming stand-ups, where one young man was particularly awful. His “routine” relied on a string of comments about various people, animals and things he had fucked – his mum, his dad, his granddad, a small child, a cat, a car exhaust, etc. It was a tedious shopping list of sexual depravity and the audience were unimpressed.

Eventually, a girl in the audience heckled him. Weirdly, she wasn’t being hostile – her shout was one of encouragement. He swiftly turned on her, subjecting her to a furious diatribe in which he threatened to rape her with his microphone. A shocked silence fell on the room. He stormed off stage, not to return. A total car crash all round.

Of course, what’s ultimately not funny about certain kinds of offensive humour are that they “punch down” at their targets. If you’re a decent, compassionate person (which I hope you are) there’s nothing entertaining about making jokes at the expense of marginalised groups and people who are already under a fair bit of persecution. This is why jokes about Christians are mostly acceptable and jokes about Muslims are mostly not in this country, although don’t bother trying to explain that to the cloth-eared journalists at The Daily Mail. The Scottish Manchester-based comedian Will Setchell speaks power dynamics in comedy in an excellent article about rape jokes. He makes an important point about how “edgy” offensive humour can often come across as tedious:

There’s plenty of comics whose names I’ll never remember who have banged on with the rape and paedo (also unimaginative) material but the comics who stick in my head are the ones who don’t bother with that stuff, they stand out because their view on the world is fresh and unique, not just a tramp through the well-worn paths of shock and edginess. Steering clear of the darkness doesn’t mean dumbing down either, in fact once you remove rape, paedophilia and ironic sexism from your toolkit you find you have to work all the harder, the jokes are more delightful, your mind trips gaily down new lanes finding ideas and juxtapositions that, I believe, will make you a better writer and comedian.

This is absolutely true, and makes me think of another comedian I greatly admire, who doesn’t do offensive comedy at all, doesn’t even swear, and still manages to be blazingly original and innovative in his vision – Harry Hill.

So really, offensive comedy can only truly be effective when it makes an important point, hitting a target that deserves it or it can simply be so funny, it sweeps you up and leaves you howling before you even realise what you’re laughing at. Which brings me neatly back to Sam Kinison. An ex-Pentecostal minister of the proper fire and brimstone variety, Kinison’s delivery of his misogynist rants was so breath-taking, so angry and so over the top, that he parodies himself and it’s utterly brilliant.

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ARRRGH!

When a joke fails the funny test or hits an unwarranted target, it sucks baws. To complicate matters, sometimes offensive jokes poke fun at “sacred cows” – groups and figures that are universally agreed to be off limits. This is why traditionally comedians can get away with vicious humour about the elderly or the disabled, although as government cuts and propaganda bite and attitude to disabled people harden, it will be interesting to see how this changes. Another good temperature gauge is how well offensive jokes about poor/working class people go down. In progressive times, such jokes are made without batting an eyelid, but when times are tougher, they take on a decidedly cruel colour.

So go on, comedians – be offensive! But be funny about it, that’s the most important thing! Don’t worry, I won’t be organising a petition to get you banned from life or anything like that. No hard feelings, eh? Here’s a hilarious sketch about violence against women.

LOL VIOLENCE AGANST WOMEN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Months On… Thoughts on Indyref Political Engagement

I’ve been trying to write this Scottish indyref thing for weeks and weeks and weeks now. It’s been started and stopped so many times. Emotion overwhelms me – sadness, frustration, anger. My eyelashes tremble with tears and blind me to what’s on the screen. I bang my head against the keyboard, rendering it inoperable and so have to go and get it fixed for the umpteenth time that week – “Aye, I dropped my copy of Scotland’s Future on it. Again, aye” I stalk away, yelling “FUCKCUNTCUCKCUNTFUCKFUCKFUCK”. One time, I just drew a picture of a sad-looking one-eyed bear, probably cos that’s what Gordon Brown reminds me of. He’s like a bear that’s just been hit by a dart from a tranquiliser dart while hunting for a nice bit of salmon. It’s a shame, I feel bad for him.

RARR WHERE’S MY SALMON? NO, NOT SALMOND, I SAID SALMON. FUCKSSAKE.

RARR WHERE’S MY SALMON? NO, NOT SALMOND, I SAID SALMON. FUCKSSAKE.

And I know you’ve all been eagerly awaiting this, I know you all have. I can hear you all now. “Oh, great. Another self-indulgent, whiny maudlin piece on ‘WHY AH VOTED AYE COS O’ MAH SOCIALIST GRANNY AND HOW PURE GUTTED AH AM THAT IT WAS NAW’ Fucking brilliant. Hold on while I get my tea and biscuits and sit myself down comfortably for this, cos I’ve not seen about twenty of these bloody things already. No, sir. Definitely not.”

But in the end up, that’s not really what I want to talk about. I’m not going to bore your tits off with my Journey To Yes. I don’t want to closely analyse the campaign, or what went wrong, or where we are now and where to go next. Multitudes of far more eloquent, intelligent, brilliant voices have said all those things, far better than I ever could. And with far less swearing and crudely MS Paint doctored photos, too.

 

My attempt at a campaign poster. Women For Independence didn’t like it…

My attempt at a campaign poster. Women For Independence didn’t like it…:(

I want to talk about the one thing about the whole campaign that really captured my imagination and attention, as it did with a lot of people: political engagement.

They say that the personal is political, and the political has also always struck me as personal, so I’m going to talk about my own experiences and attitudes a fair bit here. I was a nerdy kid (shut up, smartarse shouting “Oh, you don’t say!” in a sarky voice at the back) and had an eager interest in politics that went hand in hand with my comedy obsession. I never missed an episode of Spitting Image, pinched my dad’s copies of Private Eye – even if at a young age all I could fully appreciate were the cartoons. If the internet had been around when I was young enough, I probably would have been maintaining a lolitics blog.

 

A picture from popular lolitics blog Dirty Politics Confessions. It really is something, this blog. Really something. Definitely recommend a visit. Particularly the George Osborne section, if you’re looking for an emetic.

That interest carried on into school. I started Modern Studies during the devolution referendum year, and our teacher told us we were so lucky to be embarking on our studies at such an interesting political time. During the same school year, the Clinton impeachment scandal blew up and that was “interesting times” for us for entirely different reasons. Between sniggers, we would ask what exactly Monica Lewinsky did with that cigar, and why did she keep that dress, why were the stains so significant, just to watch our teacher blush and fluster. Ah, schoolchildren – eternal wee shits.

darling04

Sorry, I’ve only got more Dirty Politics Confessions entries to illustrate this bit. So…yeah. Sorry. What the fuck is this, anyway?

Then in 2000 aged around 17, off I popped to uni, skipping merrily into a Labour Students meeting for freshers. Up until that point I’d never really been party affiliated, and was looking for somewhere to channel my interest and maybe take more of an active role in politics. Maybe, that is, if my crippling shyness and anxiety issues didn’t overwhelm me first. Labour felt like the best fit at the time. Like so many from a west coast of Scotland working class background with a strong strain of immigrant stock, my family had been voting Labour since time immemorial.

Labour also should have been a natural home as “the left wing choice”, the place for your hopes if you valued equality and social justice But by that point in time, Labour’s commitment to progressive politics was looking a bit shaky. A song from my uni years I keep thinking of is Weak Become Heroes, particularly the line “And to the Government, I stick my middle finger up with regards to the Criminal Justice Bill”. That bill was brought in by the previous Major regime, of course, but by then it felt like Mike Skinner’s middle finger was aimed at Blair .

Blair05

*sigh*

So I sat in this student gathering, a welcome of freshers interested in joining and campaigning for the Labour Party. And I was young, and thought I was awfy clever, and I put my hand up, piped up, “Are Labour really a ‘labour party’ anymore?”

Well, that was a mistake!

I can barely remember his face, and I certainly don’t remember his name, but the posh, ruddy-faced young man who took great delight in telling me how wrong I was, shouting me down, making me feel so small and stupid that I never returned to another meeting, pretty much put me off active participation in politics for the rest of my university career.

Which is a pity cos a year later, to paraphrase Danny Dyer, them slags smashed into the twin towers and freaked all of our nuts out. Global politics get incredibly interesting and has arguably never been the same since.

Over a decade on, it’s ironic that seeing echoes of that sneery-faced fucker in the Scottish Labour politicians who took such great delight smearing and trashing the Yes campaign, fellow Scots and even their own voters and supporters who didn’t agree with them, makes me all the more determined to remain politically engaged post-indyref. What’s more the arrogant, continued refusal to learn anything from their bad behaviour during the campaign makes me want to watch them burn.*

thisisfine06

Scottish Labour

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Truthfully, my interest in politics never went away, I was just fundamentally put off from taking an active role, from speaking up in a public fashion. This is partly the fault of the macho, combative style of British politics in general, but I also accept that my own personality has a lot to do with it as well. I’m shy, I’m socially awkward, and I don’t like aggression or nastiness.

I said this wasn’t going to be a Journey to Yes piece and I’m determined to keep that promise as, quite honestly, while there have been a fair few very interesting and insightful JTY things written, most of them have been self-indulgent, boring drivel. There’s also a whiff of evangelism about talking about your ‘journey’, which as a lapsed Catholic turned atheist and someone highly suspicious of organised religion, I tend to run away from all forms of at 1,000mph.

So, I’m going to skip past how I got over my apathy and arrived at Yes. Basically weeks before the referendum, I got so caught up in the passion and enthusiasm of the campaign that I stopped just yelling at folk about it on social media and took to the streets with my local branch of Women for Independence. It was exhilarating, a total emotional rollercoaster. In the final week before the vote, I was a wobbly tearful mess. And then there was the vote itself, and everything went to hell.

salmond07

Eurgh…

Armando Iannucci recently said that there should be a BBC “Oh, For Fuck’s Sake” correspondent, and sometimes I wish such a job existed in any media outlet anywhere, so I could go and do it. Absolutely everything that has ensued since the morning of the 19th has seen me with my head in my hands. That’s part of the reason it took me so long to actually write something about indyref. Despair is a powerful form of writer’s block.

So what of political engagement now? Well, the last month or so has been mental, and although I’m determined to stay politically engaged – and have done so by staying in touch with Women for Independence, donating and supporting Common Weal, attempting to join the Green Party (I tried and my PayPal went wrong, I keep meaning to sort it out. Honest, guv) – there have been other things going on that make me a bit uneasy.

That uneasiness isn’t coming from No voters, or Holyrood or Westminster. It’s coming from certain sections of Yes supporters.

I recognise a lot of the behaviour in the past couple of months has been down to anger and grief, of course I do. I thought I was being above it all myself, and then a friend posted an article about what happened in George Square and all the rage I feel about how much the media as a whole misrepresented the Yes campaign as a bunch of thugs with hardly any evidence, and then turned around and did their best to sweep the ugly, thuggish side of British unionism under the carpet as soon as the knuckle draggers all came swarming out to beat the shit out of innocent Yes-supporting students in George Square… Well, it came gushing out.

But bleating on about vote rigging, or signing childish petitions telling Gordon Brown the sad angry bear to fuck himself with a salmon, or declaring yourself independent anyway as if Phil Kay was being serious with his “No man is an island – unless his name is Madagascar” craic? “Aye, well my name’s Madagascar, UK Government, SO THERE!” It’s like some Yessers think if they wish hard enough, they can make fairies come back into existence.

certificate

CAN WE PRETEND LIKE AIRPLANES IN THE NIGHT SKY ARE SHOOTING STARS COS I COULD REALLY USE A WISH RIGHT NOW WISH RIGHT NOW WISH RIGHT NOW

I quite often hear “Ooh, where are all the progressive No voters? They’re awfy quiet, eh?” Well, honestly if I was a No voter interested in getting involved with Common Weal, or food bank initiatives run by Yes-leaning projects, I’d be really put off by the exclusiveness of all this 45% stuff. I kow being in a super special exclusive club is exciting, but telling n00bs to get out isn’t going to win over support to get that independence.

Limmy said an interesting thing recently about being jumped upon by fellow Yes supporters for displaying a peep of dissent. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced this too. To add insult to injury, when Limmy tweeted about this recently and I tweeted back in sympathy, I got jumped on by the exactly the Yes supporters he was talking about. I’ve also been jumped on in social media by Yes supporters taking offence at me making jokes about moving my focus from exclusively Yes stuff to other life stuff post-vote, and do not get me started on the hardcore of utter zoomers that exist out there who think the mere existence of Women for Independence is anti-men and therefore divisive. Talk about proving my point!

There are certain sections of Yes who will not hear a word of criticism, or a note of dissent, or anything negative about certain Yes figureheads. It’s like they think that the Yes movement is as fragile as a soap bubble, and the slightest disturbance will make it go pop. Well, It’s not on. This is the sort of nonsense that put me off political engagement in the first place. I’m too old and stupid to let it put me off a second time, but it would be sad to see it put off those younger and cleverer than me. Let’s get a grip, eh?

rarr08

This wasn’t on Dirty Politics Confessions. It’s one of the ridiculous Rabid Yes images I’ve started collecting cos I find them so over the top hilarious.

It’s OK to feel angry, frustrated, cheated. It’s fine to vent once in a while. But it shouldn’t be vented in harmful, childish ways. Channel it into activism and continued engagement. Make art, write a blog, and chuck your copy of Scotland’s Future at next door’s annoying yappy dog. Particularly if they voted No. But don’t do this See-You-Jimmy-on-Steroids stuff, eh? That’s not what I signed up for, it’s not what a lot of us signed up for. The reason I came over to Yes was precisely because of the forward-facing global vision it had. All the twee tartan bunnets, shortbread and falafel – sorry, haggis, I get the two mixed up – imagery came from No, not Yes. We were all indie bands and arty shit. We were the cool dudes. We were right, and we’re still right. I’m more convinced of it than ever.angryscotland

Here’s an angry arty thing I saw recently that I really liked – from Indy Quine, @MisssyM. Full version here.

 

*****

*another wee uni days tune for you there ;).

How You Coming On With That Pro-unionist Song You Been Working On, Eh?

I’m working on a longer referendum piece at the moment, but in the meantime I thought you all might enjoy my biting piece of indyref satire what I gone and done a wee while ago.

haiuguys1haiuguyz2haiguyz3The latest VOBNOB video* got released this week. It’s about how if we vote Yes, all ARE BRAVE ATHLEETS from That London will be shot and tuned into glue. Or something like that, I dunno. Has anyone asked Flowers of the Union when they’re releasing their album? At this point, we must all feel like Stewie Griffin asking Brian about his novel.

* Yes, I know that link goes to Gene’s classic bit of dreamy anthemic 90s Britpop, Olympian. The VOBNOB video is also called ‘Olympians’ and I’m sure you could probably find it no bother – unless it’s been removed for telling big whopping fuck-off porkies like the last one.

Sad Bat Signals: Drawing The Blinds

Sad Bat SignalThis blog was born in a fit of drunken pique, and I’m still trying to work out exactly what I want to do with it. Being more public with my writing is something I’ve been intending to do for a while, and I’m glad all the hoo-ha around the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony finally gave me the boot up the arse I needed to stop talking/thinking about it and actually do it.

I definitely intend to write funny stuff. I intend to continue the humorous rants about serious stuff.  I intend to be as entertaining as I possibly can.

However, sometimes I don’t really feel like being funny.

I’ve fretted for a bit about whether it would be worthwhile to write about my ‘grey days.’ I’ve had issues with depression and anxiety on and off and at varying degrees of seriousness since I was 13. Over the years, I’ve become a lot better at recognising the early signs of a looming dark cloud of doom about to position itself over my head and relentlessly drench me with negativity and self-loathing, and I’ve always got my brolly handy – whether that brolly be a swift visit to the GP surgery, medication or the friendly, reassuring words of someone who cares about me and doesn’t think I’m rubbish.

o-FROG-UMBRELLA-1-facebookSome days, though, my mood just flatlines and nothing can lift it. I feel numb and grey, everything around me feels far away. It’s a disconnect from reality, like being underwater. I try to write about these times, in notebooks that I then can’t bring myself to look at again. Reading back the bits of trailed-off sentence I’ve written in a low mood makes me wince.

Writing comedy about depression can be difficult. There are things to laugh about, certainly, just as there are about any situation. I remember reading an account of a depressive episode in a magazine, where the sufferer recounted bursting into tears while sitting on the toilet. She jokes about how absurd such an image is now, but obviously at the time, it’s nothing to laugh about. Likewise, there are things I’ve done and said during a depressive episode that I find quite funny now. One such incident was sobbing my heart out on the bus home from school, because I’d seen a squashed fox on the road. It had been run over so many times, it was just a furry clump on the motorway, but its ears were still sticking up. For some unfathomable reason, that sight managed to penetrate the numbness. It touched me and made me cry.

So, I had a grey day yesterday and, while the last wisps of fog are still trailing about my head, I’m going to have a go at writing a wee thing about it. Sometimes my moods have no particular cause I can point to, but in this instance it was definitely triggered by something – which unfortunately I can’t talk about in detail so apologies for the cryptic nature of what follows. It’s also prompted my decision to take a break from social media for a month, so if you’ve made it this far, you’ll have a better impression of why I’m suddenly disappearing from your feeds. (Main Point: It’s not cos I hate u)

Drawing The Blinds

“In the old days, writers used to sit in front of a typewriter and stare out of the window. Nowadays, because of the marvels of convergent technology, the thing you type on and the window you stare out of are now the same thing.”

Imagine this: You are looking out of your window, when a group of people come into view, carrying musical instruments. They stop right in front of your window and start to get tuned up.

The sound they make is something quite exciting and beautiful. It’s a song that showcases all that is great and gorgeous and wonderful about them.

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Not this guy though…

It’s going to be glorious. It’s going to make you want to go outside and join them, dance with them. But you will not be able to do that. All you can do is watch. And it’s going to be painful, really painful.

It already hurts, watching them tune up. You wish you could go outside and say hello. You’ve already tapped the window, given them a wave, got a sunny smile back, but that’s all you can have. You’ll hang onto that smile in your head. It stings and it’s sweet.

But you know it’s going to really hurt later on. When the whole band sets up, and the song starts. Then there will be happy crowds thronging, friendly faces. You’ll want to join them so badly. It will ache, and ache, and ache. You don’t think you’ll be able to stand it.

Stop mocking yourself, stop mocking yourself, stop mocking yourself...

Stop mocking yourself, stop mocking yourself, stop mocking yourself…

There’s only one thing to do.

Close the blinds. Put on your eye mask and your earplugs. Go to sleep.

Maybe you’ll dream about it. Maybe the dream will be even better. Maybe it will be so good, you won’t worry about not being able to go outside. It will be sweet enough for you.

You’ll wake up when everyone is gone, and it’s quiet, and then perhaps you’ll go outside.

 

Laughing In The Face Of Idiots – Part 100,675 In A Series As Old As Time

whale

Bit weird…

I’ve got a lot of faith in humanity. I skip through life, in my big flouncy dress and pigtails and lacy socks, handing out cupcakes to all who cross my path and soor plooms to all the grumpy pants. A bit like Whale’s Cia Berg in the video for Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe but without the armpit licking – that shit be weird, yo. I like to believe that the vast majority of the human race are decent, well-intentioned folk, that their opinions are well-informed and come from a place of goodness and compassion and empathy. I do this in the face of a lot of sadness and misery in the world, and it’s probably a coping mechanism of a sorts.

Occasionally, however, something penetrates my happy, rainbow-coloured bubble. Something that makes me put my head in my hands. One such joykill has been the Women Against Feminism blog that’s been doing the rounds.

Sigh. Big, big sigh. How can these women be so ill-informed, so ignorant, so borderline hateful? It’s enough to make you want to chew your own arm off and slap yourself despondently about the face.

Luckily, I have an even more effective weapon against horribleness – humour! Others have tackled this blog with some great comedic responses – David Futrelle’s Confused Cats Against Feminism and Rebecca Brink’s send-ups  are particularly good – but I felt I had a little bit of snarking to do as well.

catsoapA lot of them take the form of A FEMINIST WAS MEAN TO ME THEREFORE FEMINISM IS BAD and a lot seem to involve disagreements with imaginary feminists in their head, so it’s a bit repetitive and self-mocking in a lot of instances. But I’m gonna have a bash fer yer amusement, like. So, without further ado…

respectasthecatPfft, respecting your husband as THE MAN in the relationship is sooo vanilla. Dunno about you, ladies, but I like to “Respect” my husband as “the cat”  in the relationship, if you know what I mean… 😉

fuckoffFuck off! The magic words! Is some creepy guy following you home from work along a lonely lane? Shake back your wizard’s sleeves, intone “ABRACADABRA FUCK-O OFF-O” and he’ll turn into a mouse – AND RUN UP YOUR LEG! UP YOUR SKIRT! ONCE A PERVERT ALWAYS A PERVERT! Being a mouse won’t change that, but at least you can bite his head off and carry on with your day.

kitchenYeah, cos no feminist ever wants to be sexy for their man! I stomp around in shapeless burlap sacks and hobnail boots all day, smearing rancid peanut butter on my face so my husband doesn’t even want to kiss me.

Also, being a feminist, I obviously fucking hate cooking so I went and married a professional chef – which actually makes me really smart because I don’t have to slave in the kitchen all day. TEN POINTS TO HOUSE YUILL! HAWWW GET IT UP YE, ANTI-FEMINISTS! *enthusiastically flicks Vs*

victimAaaand, I’m gonna get a bit serious and personal here, because beyond all the humour, I find the placards equating surviving trauma with “playing the victim” and by extension being weak, particularly upsetting. I’m not going into great detail here, but I myself have been a victim of sexual violence in the past. Feminist resources and charities like Rape Crisis have actually helped me to pull myself up out of a spiral of self-hatred and destruction. I have come through trauma and am a stronger person *because of* feminists. I feel empowered *because of* the resources that have been available to me through women’s groups and online information and so on. I’m a much happier, sunnier, well-adjusted person today. I really wonder what the girl in this picture expects me and others like me to do. Shut up and pull ourselves together? Would she say that to a male victim of trauma, I wonder? The complete lack of empathy and understanding is so depressing…

Anyhoo, shall we carry on?

george

I really love how the tag for this in Google was “scottish politics”

George says Yes.*

(*no, not in that sense, indyreffers. Don’t get excited)

bodyhairI generally tend to keep my armpits and legs hair-free, but lest you think me a disgrace to feminism, I can assure you that I do have a big, hairy fanny. Well, my pubic region is kept in a neatly trimmed triangle, but the way things are nowadays it seems if you have the slightest bit of hair down there then you might as well have a big seventies-style muff going on. Also, my views on removing pubic hair tend to get very ranty and basically condense down into “I’M A FUCKING GROWN WOMAN NOT A FUCKING SIX-YEAR-OLD GIRL WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU, SAVILE???!” so we’ll quickly shy away.

Not sure how this proves my equalness to men or not, though. Personally, I won’t consider myself truly equal to men until I’ve successfully managed to grow a big ginger beard as impressive as my brother’s.

opressionDunno, mate. Turn around, let me have a look? Naw, you don’t look oppressed from the ba- oh, hang on! You’ve got a little bit of oppression on your hem. Yeah, just on your hem. No, not that bit, the other bit. Yep, that’s it gone. You’re welcome.

slutsSooo, demonizing men = bad, but judging women as “sluts” = totes OK…? Um…Good job, I suppose? *thumbs up and fixed grin*

And I’m guessing from the “clump of tissue” comment that you’re a pro-lifer as well. Y’know, most pro-lifers hide their hatred and fear of women’s sexuality behind their concern about the ickle babbies, but at least you’re wearing your bile on your sleeve, so thank you!

vaginas

Vagina beats voice? Or voice beats vagina? I think? I don’t remember this from Rock, Paper, Scissors.

ihatewomen

Aaaah, how wonderful – a lesser-spotted Female Misogynist of the “I ONLY HAVE MALE FRIENDS BECAUSE WOMEN ARE ALL BITCHES HIGH FIVE ME BOYZ” variety. My faaaave…

Speaking as a woman with more male friends than female, I’m proud that I’ve managed to do so without being a pure fanny about it. I fully acknowledge my tendency to get on better with men than women is due to my own nerdiness and social awkwardness, and nothing to do with women being rubbish. I love my female friends just as much. I really do feel sorry for women like the girl above who are so insecure they have to lash out so viciously at other girls.

And I’m getting serious again, so probably time to stop. I’ve not linked directly to any of these sites (there’s a Tumblr and a Facebook), but if you’d like to spend an hour bashing your head against a wall in despair, I’m sure you can google them and knock yersel’oot.

If you’re looking for some brain cleanser after that depressing display of ignorance and nastiness, here’s Jenny Lewis. Don’t say I’m no good to ya!

AWWW DOGGIEZ!!! :3

doggles

check oot this cute wee laddie!!1!

I’ve just read this National Collective piece on the Common Wealth Games opening ceremony, which makes many perfectly valid points, particularly about the hypocrisy of insisting on no political displays while filling the place with with British national symbolism.  However, it manages to do so in a somewhat whiny, petted-lipped way. It brings up something that’s been bugging me about the Yes campaign for a wee while now. Dont get me wrong, I’m a whole-hearted supporter of Team Yes, but unfortunately the chippy-shouldered grievances that colour some quarters of the more nationalist parts of the pro-indy movement have a tendency of bleeding through, to places where you’d least expect it.

Much as I love what National Collective are doing, there’s this unfortunate streak there of taking themselves far too seriously and a bit of a sense of humour fail at times. A big part of their brief is a rejection of old stereotypes of Scotland, throwing off the moth-eaten tartan blankets and making a bonfire of dusty old portraits of handsome stags on gloomy moors. However, there seem to be a danger of forgetting that another stereotype we need to cast off is that ol’ ray of sunshine, the Scotsman with a grievance. This article, along with a lot of commentary I’ve seen of the Opening Ceremony, absolutely reeks of it.

On a personal level, it’s been a wee disappointment to me that a lot of the comedy representation within NC is so poor. Poets? Wonderful and thought-provoking. Music? Fantastic and a veritable who’s who of Scottish talent. The comedy, though… Hmmm. Of course, this may just be a reflection of the comedy landscape in Scotland, as I know from my years of experience working in comedy clubs and comedy writing that the stand-up scene has a tendency to fluctuate in quality. There will be a wee spate of golden years, and then all the decent folk’ll fuck off to do the London scene and we put up with the dregs until the next crop of bright stars start to shine through. There are many very funny, talented comedians in the Yes movement, but I know of only a few decent ones– the legendary Janey Godley and the absolutely phenomenal Eleanor Morton for starters – who actively associates themselves with NC*.  I do wonder if this dearth of the clown factor is having an adverse effect. The comedy writer Robert Florence recently observed: “I’m a Yes man, but I fear the Yes message is getting increasingly po-faced.” I’m afraid I have to agree with that.

But anyway, that’s just a wee personal grumble. Back to the Games. Now, I’ve not actually watched the Opening Ceremony in full, although I’ve seen the highlights and read enough to be able to speak about it with some degree of authority that exists just above “that annoying blowhard in the pub” . Just to give some background on how the Games are being received in our household, last night We attended the Belle And Sebastian gig in Kelvingrove and left immediately after their set to return to the Southside, specifically to avoid the Opening Ceremony which was being shown on large screens following the concert. On the way home, my husband took a picture of a “CYCLING LANE CLOSED” sign and posted it to social media with the hashtag #panemetcircenses.  A protest not necessarily against the Games themselves, but the characteristic stupidity and hypocrisy of Glasgow City Council.

There’s a slight difference of opinion on the Games in our household. I’m critical, but unlikely to fly into a rage about it. My husband, however, is VIOLENTLY OPPOSED to “The Shit Olympics”. I tend to chuckle at this but I did have my tolerance seriously tested when, on arrival at our local (where we were due  to meet with friends) it looked for a minute like Austin was going to make me sit outside in the pub garden rather than indoors because they were showing the ceremony on television. It had been a very warm day and I was wearing light summery clothing, with no cardigan or jumper about my person. At that point the sun was gone and the evening had cooled down significantly. The prospect of having to shiver my tits off in the name of my husband’s curmudgeonliness reeeally didn’t make me very happy. I’m not an angry person and rarely lose my temper, but I confess I got a bit snarly at that point.

Luckily, we were able to move to the inside of another pub without a television, so a potential grounds-for-divorce situation was avoided. Yay!

Anyway, I digress…

I’ve seen a lot of moaning about the ceremony and how clichéd and rubbish the imagery was in it, particularly in the first section. Guys, please remember that a) we are a nation renowned for laughing at ourselves and b) the ceremony is intended for an international audience who aren’t going to get obscure tongue-in-cheek references to Stephen Pastel. It looked pretty… fun to me. I saw references to the Art School, D. C. Thomson and Bud Neill, as well as the clichéd purple heather and Nessie. And the sunray branding of Tunnock’s teacakes is cool as fuck, admit it – even if I may think the wee guy on the Caramel Wafer boxes looks a bit smug. And The Shamen for Team Scotland! Come on now, what greater acknowledgement of Glasgow’s reputation for being a first-class clubbing city do you need?

check out this smug bastard

smug bastard

I’ve not even touched on how much a feature of Scottish nature The Cringe is. It can be debilitating at times, sure, but in this instance it was played up for laughs on a massive scale. This A Thousand Flowers blogpost absolutely nails that.

I completely understand why a lot of folk are pissed off at all this nonsense, and I feel you, I totally do. But… what did you expect? It’s the Commonwealth Games. It used to be called the Empire Games. Did you seriously expect something radical, something anti-establishment? Nah, mate. The ever-insightful Innes Smith, in a conversation with Colin Edwards, expressed this so:

“Do you seriously think they were going to do a Charles Rennie McIntosh routine followed by Tom Leonard and R.D Laing dance pieces, all wrapped up with a zither solo on a theme of David Shrigley? I know, it’s what you would have wanted, but Nessie, Teacakes, Irn Bru and a bunch of psychedelic neds doing Lisa Minnelli routines IS far more Glasgow than the above. Where the f*ck do you think you live Colin, FRANCE!?!?

I’m perfectly aware that a lot of this may well be simply my problem. I recoil, hissing like a cat from a vacuum cleaner, at the slightest hint of earnestness on anyone’s part, no matter how much I might agree with them about whatever the fuck they’re being so annoyingly earnest about. There’s something about heartfelt sincerity that makes me want to stick my tongue in my bottom lip and repeat such pretty platitudes back at the source in an outrageously politically incorrect manner. There’s a compulsion in me to destroy beauty. I was *that* kid, building an intricate, exquisite sandcastle and then stamping the fuck oot o’ the cunt. I really am a dreadful, dreadful sod.

Despite this, I think my point stands. There is a definite need to be ever alert to and resist the clichéd, shortbread-tin kailyard image of Scotland. As a graduate of the Scottish Literature programme at the University of Glasgow, taught by awesome folk like Alan Riach and Gerry Carruthers, I absolutely understand this. But let’s not forget the flipside of that coin – the chip on the shoulder, the grievance, the tendency to blame everything on the English and so on. We really need to watch out for that as well and not get so complacent or smug  about how forward-thinking we’re being. Also, we need to fucking lighten the fuck up and laugh at ourselves. A lot of the commentary I saw on social media last night – particularly from Scots and Glasgow residents – was belly-achingly funny, and made me feel so, so much prouder of being Scottish than anything else. We really do rip the piss out of each  other like no other nation on earth, and it’s glorious.

Also… fucking hell, them doggies were cuuute! Their wee legs! Their wee faces! DAWWW!!1!