Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Death of Fun

I was delighted this morning to learn that Russell Brand won the British Comedy Award for Best Live Act last night, and dedicated the award to Jonathan Ross. Ross was supposed to have been presenting the show but because of the absurd brouhaha in the British media about the silly calls Brand and Ross made to Andrew Sachs on Russell's now-defunct radio show, he's still not allowed in front of a camera (and when he comes back they'll be expecting him to show appropriate contrition, you can bet, like a drunk driver who accidently mowed down a family of cute blonde-haired infant picnickers).

This story broke before my own little spot of trouble with my employer in re: a careless joke on Facebook, but even before I was suspended I couldn't understand what the fuss was about. We seem so keen in this country to find someone we can all bunch together and vilify (life hasn't been the same in Old Blighty since witches all married I.T. consultants and opened expensive trinket shops). And we are very easily led into these moral panics by the hypocritical self-serving scum of the tabloid press, too. Do you really think the editor of the SUN newspaper gives a shit about "Baby P"? Of course not. But he knows you'll buy his papers if he pretends to, and gives you names and photographs of left-wing (and preferably, be honest, black) social workers you can fulminate against.

I'm not a big fan of Jonathan Ross, but I think Russell Brand is a genius. The calls to Andrew Sachs may have been a bit peurile--I don't know, I've only heard one of them--but in order to create great work an artist has to take risks. Sometimes it's not going to work. Or it won't work quite as well. No artist who's done anything worth a damn has ever been consistently brilliant.

Oh, and you have to wonder, do all the people phoning in to radio stations this morning to complain about Brand's award not have anything better to worry about? How about all the people dying in Zimbabwe? How about all the political prisoners in China and Tibet? The arts are central to my life but next to those other issues the eccentric perorations of a louche English comedian don't really seem that important.

2009 will be the year Hunter Thompson's prediction of the Death of Fun came true, if we're not really bloody careful.

4 comments:

TorontoViewer said...

Those 30,000 self-righteous, sock-knitting, curtain-twitching fools who complained about Russell are turning out to be the best thing that ever happened to him as Russell can now concentrate on his screen career where he appears to be doing wonderfully.
I hope he laughs all the way to the bank.
His comments at the awards show last night were him giving the verbal middle finger salute to 30,000 people with nothing better to do than get angry when a tabloid tells them to.
Go Russell!

Anonymous said...

It's a sad, sad world when criminally overpaid, overhyped so-called comedians, who are nothing more than stupid, offensive, senseless numbskulls, do what Ross and Brand did. But it is an even sadder place when people claiming to have an intellect rise to support them.
I am neither a sock-knitter nor a curtain twitcher, but I viewed their behaviour (and your support)as yet another indicator that Britain really has flushed itself down the pan.
There ARE people who possess a sense of right and wrong and who do not hang on the coat tails of the worst forms of modern trendism, and I am proud to count myself one of them. High-minded? It might be to those who worship those who dwell amid fellow pond-life, but to me it's a case of having standards that one is proud to live with.
The fact that 42,000 people (not 30,000) chose to complain to the BBC should alert those who see what happened as "fun" to the reality of the situation.
And how do you assume, Bruce, that these same people don't care about what's happening around the world? That's a particularly arrogant assumption: you don't have exlusive rights to social awareness, you know, and some of us actually help disadvantaged people in positive ways.
But we don't care to air it, nor do we normally castigate others for what we perceive as their inability to be in step with our own views.
Bruce's Dad.

Fred Abbey said...

Ah, well, I know at least one of the complainants to the BBC and when he's not getting worked up about stuff he hasn't heard and which wasn't intended for him anyway, what he does is sit at home reading the Daily Mail and the Daily Express (from where I assume he "sources", in the modern parlance, his outrage) and watch that movie based on the ABBA songs over and over again. He's not at the barricades or hanging outside embassies or petitioning parliament trying to get things changed. Mind you, in this country that's probably a good thing, because if he was putting his body on the line for social change he'd be getting the legions of the prim and self-righteous phoning up Radio 5 indignantly protesting that England Isn't What It Once Was because the cops aren't out there tazering him (like those frighteningly angry people who, twisted into near-incoherence by their own spite, calling for armed punishment against the airport protestors today) (of course, by the time I write this they've probably all been dragged away and roughed up anyway, and who cares since they're obviously all communists and dole bludgers). It surprises me that anybody would be unable to see the linguistic invention of Brand, and the seething nastiness the Moral Majority unleashed against him when he made an error of judgement on a pretty-much spot-on, ingeniously inventive show only proves how much a figure like him is needed, in my book. If everybody in this country is that keen to smash the head in of anybody who looks and sounds different from them--which a lot of people are--that needs to be exposed and purged from the national temper.What's driving Old Blighty round the U-Bend and out to the Treatment Works isn't its comedians or its rock bands or the moral decay I presume they are supposed to represent;it isn't the influx of hard-working, horribly exploited European and African people that Sun readers and suburban curtain twitchers like to fulminate against either. It's the close-minded repressive violence of the mainstream world that tries to stop anything from changing ever and kicks the living shit out of anything cultural or political that threatens to let a little light into the room.

By the way, Pop, if you look back at the Goons or Spike Milligan's solo work, for example, it was larded with racist stereotypes and other offences against taste and intelligence that somebody like Russell Brand wouldn't go anywhere near. So has there really been that much of a decline? What about the "Carry On" movies, or "On The Buses"--both packed with tit and knob gags that made it possible throughout the Sixties and Seventies for a level of male chauvanism and sexual exploitation to slip unnoticed under the doors of workplaces and homes that nobody would get away with now (and most wouldn't want to).

If I'm wrong about the political leanings and behaviours of the sort of people who protested against Brand and want to tazer environmental activists I would be happy to stand in the middle of Abington Street in my shorts and sing "Nellie The Elephant" as an act of contrition. But I bet I'm not wrong. And giving a bit of your income to charity to aid the "disadvantaged" (whoever they are, and whyever we have so many of them after eleven years of a Labour Government), is, while laudible, barely even the beginning of constructive social engagement. In fact, some people argue it's a way of helping to maintain the status quo, though I'm not sure I believe that. True engagement of your body and your mind every day is the way to relieve, or begin relieving, the suffering of those poor "disadvantaged" people. And one way to engage is to publish your version of the truth. To keep information circulating. To encourage debate. Especially in a country where nobody wants to talk about anything anymore unless it's to call for somebody to be vilified or excommunicated or beaten up because they transgressed against our own lofty moral code.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's put me in my place, hasn't it? That's what you get for disagreeing with people whose usual response is one of blind support. Unfortunately, "Fred Abbey's" allegations regarding my reading habits, my supposed complaint to the BBC and, indeed, everything else he fires at me (including the way I aid others) are unbelievably wide of the mark. But does anybody care? I couldn't give a damn!
I'll continue living out my remaining years as one of Britain's army of forgotten and neglected pensioners, and leave it to people like you to make the world a better place. You never know, you might be able to make it as good as it was in the Fifties... but somehow I doubt it. -
Bruce's Dad