Fuck this, I’m off…

It happened again tonight. I’d mulled over another blog post on the train home. I had the arguments down pat, the basic outline OK, even thought a couple of witty side remarks to put in. And then it came down to writing the damn thing, and… well it all went a bit crap. Halfway through I decided to “Save As Draft”, and then realised there was a stack of other posts that I’d similarly never got round to finishing. At that point I finally acknowledged what I had known deep deep down all along, which was that none of them would never see the light of day.

I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’m running out of things to say. Maybe I’m getting too self-conscious of the audience this blog has. Maybe, worst of all, I’m getting bored of blogging. I’m not sure. But whatever it is, it looks like I need a break from it. I don’t how long – I could go cold turkey and be back in a week, or I might feel so liberated I won’t bother for a year. I might even do an idea I’ve lazily entertained, which is give up this blog entirely and start writing elsewhere under an anonymous identity.

Whatever it is, I won’t be writing here for a bit. I might still run a linklog and take photos, but I won’t write properly until I feel it’s worth the effort again. Till then, seeya.

Little Britain, and casual racism

Johann Hari has a go at Little Britain (via del.icio.us/sharpener), and all in all it’s rather confused: is Matt Lucas the gay and fat equivalent of Uncle Tom, or a sneering white middle-class bully who delights in misogyny? Is it their fault for creating these characters, or the public at large for taking them to their hearts? Everybody and nobody is to blame.

I have never really liked Little Britain that much – unlike other catchphrase-oriented sketch comedy like The Fast Show, its menagerie of characters are practically zero-dimensional, while neither Matt Lucas nor David Walliams possess the acting ability nor the wit to make any sketch anything more than hammed-up pedestrian predictability. Virtually every comic element in the series is borrowed from another (vomiting old lady – Mr Creosote from The Meaning of Life; Marjorie Dawes – Pauline from The League of Gentlemen; people in fat suits – Russ Abbot was doing that fifteen years ago, for fuck’s sake). Add that to the simplistic crassness and toilet humour and you end up with something that’s not very funny, the odd surreal sketch from the first series notwithstanding.

Now, not being funny is no crime, but LB is much worse than that. There’s the sheer inevitability of what will you’ll hear from anyone trying to defend the show’s crassness – that it’s postmodern-faux-ironic, knowingly self-aware in its offensiveness, that it’s satiring homophobia/misogyny/racism, and if anyone’s offended by the poor taste, the joke is on them. If you’re thinking of adding a “come on, lighten up, see the funny side” comment along these lines – don’t bother. That kind of excuse has been knocking about for ten years, if not more, to justify any form of culture which is offensive to some particular group, from Marilyn Manson to South Park. Of course, for this argument to work, then the offensiveness has to be nuanced in some way; there has to be some sort of subtext or different level of alternate meaning conveyed. Problem is, Little Britain has none of this, although that doesn’t stop it from trying to hide its true ugly nature.

In fact, it desperately tries to wear its right-on attitude on its sleeve as much as possible, such as the attempt to paint Marjorie Dawes as a bigot, with her thinly-veiled patronising racism aimed at the Asian member of her slimming group. However, the moment Ting Tong, the mail-order Thai bride played by Matt Lucas, appears on the screen, the pretence to sophistication vanishes. Ting Tong is nothing more than the pathetic flogging of another crass racist stereotype – yellow makeup, dodgy buck teeth and an inability to pronounce one’s “r”s and you have a winning formula. It’s interesting to note that while Spike Milligan’s browning-up in Curry and Chips and The Black and White Minstrel Show have now been consigned forever to TV Hell (accompanied by lots of self-congratulatory back-slapping), Little Britain gets away with away with the exact same kind of thing. If you think I’m over-reacting, then consider this – is it any way likely that Matt Lucas would have instead dressed up as a Pakistani, put on a “goodness gracious me” accent, and done a sketch about arranged marriages?

However, I don’t want to go down the line that it’s the viewing public’s fault for willingly taking it. Although it’s interesting to question why, generally, racism against South East or East Asians is less controversial than that against South Asians or blacks, overdwelling on “the mob knows best” reasoning leads to an easy excuse for any kind of behaviour; it’s intellectually lazy and panders to apathy and conformism as the final arbiter of quality or taste, and is just as invalid when someone tries to justify the commissioning of all those awful 1970s sitcoms. Matt Lucas and David Walliams didn’t have to create that character, if they didn’t want to. They clearly did want to, and this makes them as much casual, ignorant racists as the characters they lamely try to send up.


2005: BloggedYou’ll never guess what! Remember when this blog used to be good, and I moaned on about ID cards? They’ve only gone and stuck it in a book. So now you too can live the glory days of qwghlm.co.uk, but with the twist of using old-fashioned paper. Crazy stuff. So, waste no time: go pick up your copy of 2005: Blogged – Dispatches from the Blogosphere – the official best of British blogging from the past year. Pages 142 to 145 are what you should be reading first; not that you’d be able to work it out from the index – I am the only blogger in the book to be listed under “www.” rather than my real name. Hmph.

Seriously though, having had a quick flick through, it does look good and there is some high-quality writing there, both from blogs I know and those I don’t; in fact, what will probably follow in the next few days are links to a whole set of newly-discovered blogs to link to. Also, some long-stewing thoughts on the future of blogging and British blogging in particular, a mere six months after everyone else weighed in on the same topic. And also, more interesting posts in general, I promise…

Pimp my Yuletide

The angry greenie inside me really really wishes that Houseblinger (via wonderful electric), a showcase of houses shrouded in tasteless Christmas lighting, could be turned into some sort of “name and shame” site for people who merrily waste electricity for no good reason – so perhaps when the post-energy crash apocalypse occurs, we all know how who to blame and put in the stocks. Maybe.

Still, it reminds me of a quite magnificent “blinged up” house that I used to pass by every day in winter when I use to work in Greenwich (well, Maze Hill…), which was gaudy beyond belief – ho-ho-hoing Santas, flickery things that were a risk to passing epileptics, the lot. Although there was one unfortunate day I walked by, and it appeared to be the funeral of a close family member; not that that stopped them having the lights on. I suppose it’s what they would have wanted…

It comes earlier every year

Maybe my eyes were deceiving me, but on the Tube at Canada Water yesterday, I could have sworn I saw a big red poster with the words “Kung hei fat choi” in a suitably Orientalish font on the opposing platform’s wall. Now, I know the shops turn Christmassy a little too early for my taste, and it’s just about tolerable. But if we’re now getting adverts for Chinese New Year, which will be on January 29th, in mid-November, then that’s taking the piss, quite frankly. I’ll be going back with a camera tomorrow to take another look…

An hour to kill

Some bright spark at The Times has pointed out that the change in licensing laws at midnight on Thursday will technically mean pubs will have to stop serving at 11pm for an hour, wait an hour, then re-open. Well done to whoever thought that one up.

(Actually, I suspect most publicans won’t bother, and will instead wait for Friday, whereupon everyone in England and Wales will stay in the pub till 2 for one of those “being part of history” moments – an event surely worth liveblogging, if ever there was one)