Archive for February, 2011

Inane Thoughts: Diary Of A Frustrated Writer

February 17, 2011

I’ve been thinking about Political Correctness a lot recently, particularly following the recent Sky Sports and Top Gear scandals. I think I’d like to kick-start a new phrase in relation to Political Correctness, which would be: “it’s PCGM, gone mad”. In case you hadn’t figured out what PCGM stands for, this means ‘Political Correctness Gone Mad’. As you have no doubt now realised, this means that my phrase, in its entirety, reads: “it’s Political Correctness Gone Mad, gone mad”. This covers the situation where someone gets unfeasibly angry about Political Correctness, despite the fact that it is unenforced; or they get angry about someone being castigated when they have been particularly un-PC (or, as I like to call it, “doing a Clarkson” or “being an offensive twatsworth”).

I came up with this new phrase, because I feel that we (i.e. those in favour of Political Correctness) need to win back the ground for Political Correctness from them (i.e. those against Political Correctness). It is annoying that most of the catchy phrases belong to those who don’t like Political Correctness: for all its stupidity, “it’s PC gone mad” does rather roll off the tongue.

I’ve started out with “it’s PCGM, gone mad”, but I wonder if perhaps completely re-branding Political Correctness might be a better idea. For starters, it’d be nice for re-branding to be done by people who aren’t complete prannocks.

First up, I think I need to try to define “Political Correctness”. Well, it started before I was born and it seemed to gain momentum with the rise of alternative comedy. Alternative comedians, as is obvious from the name, stood in opposition to mainstream comedians. Some of these mainstream comedians would do things like “impressions” based on crude stereotypes of ethnic minorities and when they weren’t doing this they were having a pop at their mother-in-law.

It seems to me that the reason for the creation of Political Correctness was to encourage people to be more polite, by discouraging the use of words that minority groups would find offensive; often these words were associated with violence and intimidation. Institutions would therefore encourage people to use words that wouldn’t offend or intimidate people. Essentially, what was happening was a kind of enforced politeness. Except it wasn’t actually enforced – nobody was being made to use a different word or act in a different way – the idea was to encourage the forming of a new paradigm. It seems to me that the idea was that if you made it known that a word like ‘Paki’ would probably offend those who were being pejoratively called that name, then the majority of people would feel uncomfortable with that word and encourage others not to use it. So let’s call it “Encouraged Politeness”. Now, we’ve turned Richard Littlejohn et al’s catchphrase into: “It’s Encouraged Politeness Gone Mad”. It doesn’t sound quite as catchy anymore and it sounds a little pernicious.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s impossible for this Encouraged Politeness to feel a little absurd, perhaps even surreal at times. There is a lot of comedy to be had at the expense of Political Correctness. The Office is probably the best example of this, highlighting the hilarity of people trying to be PC, but getting confused and getting it wrong. Red-facedly shouting “it’s PC gone mad” is not good comedy, it’s just shouting, with a red face. Political Correctness is not perfect, but surely the world is a better place for people trying to be nicer to each other. Not that I want to teach the world to sing. That would be horrible.

I’m sure some of you have heard the tale of the word “brainstorm” being replaced with “thought-showers”. It was discovered that some civil servants had asked for this to happen, as they were concerned the original word might be deemed as pejorative to people who suffered from brain disorders. People at the time were bringing this up in conversation and saying: “you can’t even use the word brainstorm anymore, it’s PC gone mad”.

First, the people telling me this had already punched one giant hole in their argument by using the word “brainstorm”, having said that they were no longer allowed to say it, which were it not for the punctiliousness of this observation, it was sorely tempting to point this out. However, despite the initial point being a facetious one, it is obvious that you can still use the word and no one out there is enforcing this rule. Finally, it seemed to me that the people coming up with this idea were perhaps being over-sensitive, but that their concerns came from a kind place – they were worried about offending an afflicted minority.

Now, the “brainstorm”, er, storm was certainly a surreal episode and it seems to me that you will find few people who would genuinely be offended by the term. In fact, I would find it hard to imagine that anyone is going around calling people with brain disorders a “brainstorm” in a sneering manner, or surreptitiously using the term around them in order to wind them up. The idea of that happening is actually surreally amusing: just imagine a grinning wazzock, prancing around an afflicted person shouting out the word “brainstorm” in a sing-song manner. It was kind of understandable that people had found this to be a ridiculous episode, although anyone who got genuinely angry at the perception that they might be banned from using the word “brainstorm” are, frankly, ridiculous buffoons.

The people who angrily said that it was “PC gone mad” were unwittingly falling into the first of my traps of getting mad about PC going mad. The swaggering cockramps.

The second major example of “PCGM, gone mad” that I mentioned above, was exemplified recently in the furore surrounding the Top Gear presenters and their remarks about Mexicans. I’m sure you’ve all heard the comments and have your own opinions on the matter (although if your opinion is that their remarks were in any way funny, can I point you in the direction of similar comedians you might enjoy, such as Jim Davidson, Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown and Nick ‘Melty-Face’ Griffin; then I’d ask you never to speak to me again). I don’t need to repeat it any of it here, sufficed to say that if you substituted the word “black” for “Mexican”, they’d have been hosting a show on TalkSport faster than you could say “hanging out the back of it”. Now, some people (probably including Jeremy “Will Take Cash For Offending A Minority” Clarkson) have lashed-out against the back-lash, by saying that it’s all PC gone mad. I mean, if you can’t speak pejoratively and abusively about a racial minority on the BBC, then where will it end? How is Jeremy Clarkson supposed to sell his “books” if he doesn’t have his bullying? It is at this point that you realise that this is definitely “PCGM, gone mad”.

In fact, when it comes down to it, the likes of Richard Littlejohn and Jeremy Clarkson don’t really think that “it’s PC gone mad”, they don’t like the idea of Political Correctness (or Encouraged Politeness) full-stop. For them, as the growl out their wankstains that masquerade as columns in the Daily Mail and the Sunday Times, “it’s PC”. They like being rude and nasty. They don’t want to be polite. What they’d really like to do it to be racist, homophobic or sexist and still have their voice heard. But they can have their voice heard. Freedom of speech is alive and well, as the EDL appearing on Newsnight is testament to.

What’s their problem then?! Well, it seems that if someone or a group of people get offended by something, that person or group is in turn, castigated, whether correctly or not, for whining about the person who offended them. Then, when the person who said the offensive thing hears about the “whining”, they and their supporters cry, nay whine, that “it’s PC gone mad” (particularly if they get sacked from a high paid broadcasting job). So what we have here are whiners, whining about whiners. It’s a circle of whining. So, I’m going to add to the circle of whining and whenever the cry goes out of “it’s PC gone mad”, say, “NO! It’s PCGM, gone mad”.

In fact, what’s really happening is people getting upset at being asked to be more polite. The fucktards.

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Inane Thoughts: Diary of a Frustrated Writer

February 11, 2011

So, another week off from blogging (possibly more than a week, I can’t really be bothered to check). I’m sure you’ve all been on the edge of your seats in anticipation of my re-visitation of Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery’. I have finally found my copy of the album. Some of you have suggested I could just illegally download the album, as I had already bought it and therefore was justified in downloading it now. This is exactly the sort of thinking that Lars Ulrich was trying to stamp out. Don’t you realise that there are enigmatic robot-head-wearing Gallic music stars out there literally slightly peckish because you haven’t bought a second copy of their album? You bastards. Anyway, here is my re-review.

I have a theory. I don’t think that Daft Punk wear those robot heads to disguise their true identities; I think they wear them because their faces are hideously disfigured from a lifetime of eyebrow-raising and winking. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Homework is a brilliant album and I think Daft Punk have been behind some of the best pop music in the last two decades. Around The World, Robot Rock, Harder Better Faster Stronger – these guys have influenced artists like Kanye West, N.E.R.D., The Strokes, Klaxons, Timbaland, Madonna (then again, who hasn’t “influenced” Madonna), LCD Soundsystem and Flight of the Conchords. That does not detract from the suspicion that their music is sometimes suffocating by irony and a sense that you are being had. Daft Punk were making dance music as (pop) art.

Discovery ditched the rock-influenced Chicago/Acid house style of Homework, in favour of a sound influenced as much by Supertramp and Barry Manilow than by 808 State or Felix Da Housecat. Prog-disco was just about every music critic’s worst nightmare, but I remember absolutely loving this album when it came out – and I promise I wasn’t dosed up on ketamine – however, listening back it seems that I had only really remembered tracks like the ubiquitous ‘One More Time’ (a poorer version of Daft Punk’s Thomas Balgalter’s absolutely belting lascivious and shimmering euro-disco track ‘Music Sounds Better With You’), the pulsating ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ and the snapping beats & widdling guitar soloing of ‘Aerodynamic’. However, with a decade of rip-offs and sound-a-likes, the album no longer sounds quite so fresh and interesting as it did at the time.

Whilst at the time it was easy to admire and chuckle-knowingly at the chutzpah of adopting the much-maligned soft-rock sound for tracks like ‘Digital Love’ and ‘Something About Us’, ten years and a whole lot of wankers-wearing-ironic-t-shirts later, it’s much harder to love. The irony at times can be suffocating; like having Mr Say-No-More from Monty Python wink and nudge you for 80-odd minutes. Sure, they were trailblazers in pulling down the curtain of people’s love for 10cc, Fleetwood Mac and Hue & Cry, but now that we have Guilty Pleasures nights, a lot of the album now sounds almost quaint. Tracks that were superficially dated at the time such as ‘High Life’, ‘Voyager’ and ‘Veridis Quo’ now sound dated twice-over. The final track ‘Too Long’ felt at the time like a knowing joke too far and it’s pretty much unbearable now. 

However, amongst the flotsam toward the end of the album, the penultimate track ‘Face To Face’ is an absolute belter of twisted garage and scratched up samples. And there’s the rub with Daft Punk; amongst all the winking and the nodding, they produce moments of pop-art brilliance and you forgive them all their missteps. Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons were never this much fun.

Next up, I’ll be sticking with the Gallic-prog theme and taking a look at Air’s ’10,000Hz Legend’. I might even listen to it as well.

Inane Thoughts: Diary of a Frustrated Writer

February 2, 2011

Alright blog readers. I feel bad that I have not offered anything since my vaguely political blog a week ago. I’m sure you are all devastated.

I did promise a re-visiting of Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery’, but I currently cannot find my copy of that album and although I will not let this put me off my reviewing task, it is making things more difficult. This is the sort of problem that Des’ree would shrug off with an insouciant “oh, life”, but makes me want to scream, kick things and shout: “life, you massive twat”. I’d imagine this exact same train of thought went through Camus’ mind, just before he set about writing ‘The Outsider’, well, except for the part involving Des’ree.

Unfortunately for Albert Camus, he was killed in a car accident before he had the chance to hear any of Des’ree’s seminal mid-90s offerings from the “bland fluff” genre (see also The Lighthouse Family, Charles & Eddie and M People). I’m sure he would have enjoyed her elegant wordplay: “I’m afraid of the dark/Especially when I’m in a park”; or “I don’t want to see a ghost/It’s the sight I fear most/I’d rather have a piece of toast.” Personally, I find the thought of things that are real rather scarier than the thought of things for which there is, at best, circumstantial evidence. However, I am generally in agreement with Des’ree in that a piece of toast would be preferable to seeing a ghost (although personally I’d push the boat out for a full slice of toast, not just a piece). I wonder if our reasons are similar though. I would prefer the toast because if I saw a ghost I would presume that I was going – or had gone – mad. I think Des’ree is just really scared of ghosts, though I would speculate (perhaps cruelly) that toast was only shoehorned into the matter due to Des’ree’s rigid adherence to a consonance-based rhyme scheme.

In a poll by BBC’s 6Music, Des’ree’s “ghost/toast” line was voted the worst lyric of all time. I think is a little harsh, given that the Black Eyed Peas have “written” a song called ‘My Humps’ (possibly the shittest thing by anyone, ever), in which the half-woman/half-leopard one likens her breasts to a part of a camel’s anatomy and goes on to call them her “lovely lady lumps” (perhaps not the best simile, given that the word ‘lump’ doesn’t exactly have the most positive connatations when it comes to breasts). Des’ree’s lyrics may read like the bizarre drivelling of a backward child, but at least they are not actively offensive; dressing up misogynistic leering as female empowerment. It also includes the inimitable will.i.am (known to his mother as William) making references to meeting “girls” at “discos”, which is odd behaviour for a man in his 30s, who if he is going to meet people he’d like to date, should probably stick to “women” at “clubs. The wazzock.

Anyway, as I say, once I get my mits on a copy of Discovery, then a review shall follow soon. Unless anyone wants more reviews of Black Eyed Peas and Des’ree?!