Wednesday, November 05, 2008

America the Pitiful?

It would be difficult, I should imagine, avoiding the single story that is dominating the world’s news outlets this morning.

Yes, that’s right; Georgina Baillie has forgiven Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

I, for one, am breathing a sigh of relief. I really had begun to fear that the whole affair was about to spiral out of all control, possibly ending in bloodshed. Some manner of vitriolic action group was bound to be formed, undoubtedly headed up by mothers. Mothers are much like Captain Spaulding in that regard. Whatever it is, they’re against it.

But I’ll come back to that later, unforeseeable tangents permitting.

No, of course, I am speaking about the election of Senator Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will hang out my tattered flag immediately. I am – prepare to hiss in an exaggerated pantomime manner, my conservative readers – a liberal. I know, I know. Shocked and stunned. Who would have imagined that any of those itinerant musical types pulled for the pinkos?

Yes, I am a card-carrying, Bush-bashing, gay-loving, long-haired (sometimes) hippie-assed son of a bitch.

Apparently, anyway; the truth is far more complex.

Growing up in Canada, under the truly dictatorial regime of my psychotic religious family, I always had a bit of a hard-on for the ideals that America purported to represent. Freedom! Oh, yes! Give me some of that. Of Choice! Of Religion! Of Marriage Partner! (Oh, wait… No. Apparently there are some restrictions on that.) I remember, for instance, weeping like a stockbroker on my first viewing of Moscow on the Hudson. But then any film in which someone escapes or rebels against a repressive regime always leaves me in floods. The climax of Dead Poets Society has the same effect to this day, so maybe it’s just Robin Williams. No, wait. I know I didn’t cry in Patch Adams. At least I hope not.

Obviously, as I’ve grown older, and despite appearances to the contrary, a little wiser I understand that hyperbole, as attractive as it is, is never the whole story.

Which is why, while I think Barack Obama has the potential to be very good for his country, and by extension the world, I certainly don’t buy into the Messianic fervour evidenced by some of his supporters. But I admire them for feeling it, because it is still considered deeply unattractive to care that deeply about anything. Cynicism rules supreme. I can’t help but warm to people who are unashamedly in love with something: be it political idealism, music or Doctor Who.

Obviously, there are limits to this. Those who are unashamedly in love with sticking the heads of their neighbours on spikes aren’t likely to attract me to their fan forum, however nattily designed.

On the other hand, I have been deeply amused by the comments on “right wing” blogs across t’Interweb this morning. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to join the mass liberal gloat – except, perhaps, drunk in private. There are some fair-minded political commentators out there who have weighed up the issues carefully and impartially and for some reason have come down on the side of a disingenuous Navy Brat and Tina Fey’s evil twin. It’s not for me to judge.)

Fair play to anyone who supported the other side and is disappointed, perhaps even fearful of the future. I say this because I understand. Four years ago – during the most horrific and emotionally devastating period of my life personally – I still lay awake all night blood gushing from my eyes with every state that fell to Dubya.

However, comments such as:

“I have spent 35 years of my life hunting and killing communists across the globe. Now, we’ve elected one as President…”

And:
“Well done, America on electing a President who favours throwing live babies in the trash.”

Make me laugh out loud.

On a more serious point, however, the biggest bone of contention I could find, recurring across approximately three gazillion posts was this:

“He’s going to raise my taxes.”

Oh. My. God.

Now, I admit that changes in the economy have never really affected me unduly. I’m flat broke most of the time, so I find it hard to tell the difference between the varying degrees. Still, no one wants to pay more tax. No one. But what, in an era of terrorism, dubious wars, complete financial chaos, lingering racial issues, homophobia, big questions on the rights of man in the modern age, enables these people – who clearly care very deeply about the Republican Party to condense the entire debate into: “He’s going to raise my taxes.” How utterly selfish and narrow-minded.

Not: “Well, I disagree with some of his policies, but I can understand that this is a historic moment for my country, and I shall watch with curiosity, my hard-fought right to dissent on call whenever I feel it is needed”

But: “He’s going to raise my taxes.”

The left are no better though. We have idiots on board in spades. The people who also completely refuse to engage in communication with the other side and are prone to making drippy, wishy-washy pronouncements that treat anyone who disagrees with them like mentally-challenged children who have just received a traumatic head injury.

At least, I say what I mean, and I’ll back it up with research.

The real problem is that we feel the need to split into teams in the first place. And then, rather than advancing the proposition that no party is ever going to completely reflect the views of that number of complex, idiosyncratic individuals, decide to adopt the views of their chosen party, come what may.

Personally, I like to take the viewpoints of individuals on a case-by-case basis, and then decide that they’re assholes.

But it is as it has always been.

Proposition 8 and the Ross/Brand case – to return to promised subplots – are both microcosms of what’s wrong with everybody, frankly. In very different ways.

To start with the less serious, Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand made tits out of themselves, and some idiot somewhere fucked up royally in letting it air. How is this front page news? Andrew Sachs was rightly upset. His granddaughter was rightly pissed off. It wasn’t particularly funny, and it certainly wasn’t particularly clever.

But moral outrage? Jesus wept. You hear worse down the pub every night of the week. Doesn’t make it right, and they probably want to consider whether what they said reflects a lack of respect for women that should be privately addressed. And Miss Baillie should not neither be praised nor censured for her part in it. What she does for a living doesn’t affect the respect she deserves, nor should being the centre of such a idiotic row entitle her to the vilest, and unfortunately most common strain of fame: the tabloid star. On the other hand, having been around the industry for the last ¾ of a decade, I’m inclined to wonder what I would do if handed a golden opportunity to engage with the press. Hopefully I’ve learned that it’s no route to a lasting career, but I’ll admit the jury’s still out on that one.

Moral campaigners offend and outrage me. Due to the simple assumption that their morals must be my and, by extension, our morals. I support gay marriage, a women’s right to choose, I accept the endless grey areas that blanket human existence and try to judge people on their whole, rather than their component parts. I try to raise my children to accept people of all colours, creeds, religions and sexual orientations, provided they’re not twats. I’ve made a lot of errors of judgement over the years, and I can be a decadent, hedonistic rabble-rouser when the mood is upon me, but I’d like to believe that all of it combines to make me a moral person. And they’re my morals, hard-won through experience, emotion and thought, not out of an outdated religious text with enough sex and violence between its pages to make Harold Robbins blush.

This is the great divide between left and right, in stereotype: The right believe their way is right, and therefore should be enforced. The left believe that everyone is entitled to their own viewpoint and way of life, and that should be enforced.
How do you work with contrasting ideologies of such magnificent idiocy?

This brings us to Proposition 8. I don’t even know where to begin on this one. I’m trying to keep my feelings under control, and my response balanced.

You brain-dead, homophobic, anachronistic, bible-thumping motherfuckers. What in the name of holy fuck gives you the right to impose your views on other people’s love lives? They want the right to be themselves and you want the right to stop them. This one is not a two sides to every story situation.

You are WRONG. Not only that. You are cruel, stupid and worthless. I hope you all meet up with the fuckers who think that their penile obsession with guns obliterates the qualification about a “civilian militia” from the second amendment, and I hope they shoot you in the fucking face.
And while they do that, I will be ACTIVELY teaching my children about how two people of the same sex can fall in love and get married. And they will be better than you. They already are.
It’s going to destroy SOCIETY if same-sex marriages take place? Are you fucking insane? HAVE YOU LOOKED AT SOCIETY LATELY? It needs as much love and commitment as it can eat.
And that seems a good enough point on which to leave you. I shall be trying to calm down and forgive those mentioned above. I hope you can do the same for me.

***
Now, please buy our new album, just in case someone raises my taxes.

ist - Toothpick Bridge

1 Comments:

Blogger Linzi R. said...

;)

I see now why she loves you.
Great writing.

Linzi
(Gig Widow)

22 November 2008 at 17:40  

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