Sweetness, I was only joking when I said…

Posted: September 8, 2010 in Freedom of Speech, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

‘Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking when I said, by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed’  – Morrissey ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’

I woke up this morning, in half a mind to storm down to the Guardian HQ with a match and some petrol, as I would quite like to set fire to the house of the Liberal Moralistic Intelligentsia and watch it burn to the ground. ONLY JOKING!

Or am I?

The Grauniad seems to be a bit confused about what constitutes a joke, and how jokes are employed within discourse, and who are the jokers and who are the Kings and Queens of our language.

Last week, Morrissey received a veritable telling off from the school ma’ams of St Trinians, for saying the Chinese are a ‘sub-species’ for how they treat animals. He made this remark in a Guardian  interview with the poet Simon Armitage, ‘wittily’ entitled ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’. It was immediately followed up with two more articles in the paper, explaining why Moz was yet again being unacceptably racist and should really grow up and shut up. I expect the irony was not lost on the chief captain of SS irony, as they were the ones that interviewed the controversial singer. They were the ones desperate for some juicy, offensive copy for their readers to drool over as they tutted their way through their M and S finest croissants on a Saturday.

Morrissey did not respond to his dressing down by apologising, or saying ‘sweetness, I was only joking’. He has already told us, as clearly as any man can, that he uses humour to express the violence and frustration we all feel in life. Or, that he uses violent  language in a humourous way*. ‘And if a ten ton truck, killed the both of us….’

So where was the humour in his comment about the Chinese? Where was the irony? One way of interpreting it could be to suggest that Morrissey values the lives of animals. He may believe that most people do not, and that we treat them as a ‘sub-species’, inferior to humans. In using the term ‘sub-species’ to describe a culture where some particularly barbaric treatment of animals takes place, he drew attention to our own superior and barbaric attitude to the animal kingdom as a whole. I think, my friends, he may have been using the ‘Chinese’ as a way of talking about all humans, and our hypocritical attitudes to animal welfare. But he knew it would piss off (and therefore satisfy) the Guardian editors more if he gave them a chance to call him a racist.  Again. He’d already kindly written the moralistic headmistress headline for their response: ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’….

Bigmouth has a big brain and he knows how to use language to its full effect.

Bidisha on the other hand could do with a few lessons from Morrissey on how humour works. In an absolutely mind-blowingly stupid Guardian diatribe this week, she told us  that basically, every time a man opens his Bigmouth, or even doesn’t but just looks in a certain way at a woman, he is being a misogynist bastard. She provided us with a handy tool for documenting this misogyny, called, snappily and accessibly, The Pyramid Of Egregiousness.

Apart from ignoring  global complexities and cultural context when it comes to violence against women, Bidisha conflated structural gender inequality in our society,  with sexist language, gender and sexuality cultures, and actual gendered violence.  In an article packed full of stupid, this was the stupidest remark I could find:

‘The cleverest, most belittling insult I ever heard against a woman was a posh man at the Tate Modern, talking about Rachel Whiteread’s Turbine Hall installation: “Yeah,” he said. “She’s fun.” Delivered with an infuriating, mocking grin.’

It sent a shiver down my spine. But not for the reasons Bidisha intended.

So far, so bilious. Men are misogynists if they even speak to or about women; everyone is  a misogynist if they challenge this idiotic position.

At the end of the article Bidisha makes what could be called ‘a joke’:

‘I want a 3D glow-in-the-dark dodecahedron, a planet-sized Matrix of Misogyny, a Trillion-Faceted Dynamo of Jet Black Turbo Hate. Then I’d heave it aloft and hurl it into the sun, where it would set off a massive chain reaction and shoot out sky-scraping beams of feminist rage which kill anyone, male or female, who’s ever used those words, wiping out (I’d say) 90% of human society, but leaving the non-woman-haters behind.’


But the failure of this joke is also its twisted ‘success’. It is not funny. It is not short. It is not quotable. It is not clever. It does not contain irony.  It is not made by a famous  whipping boy of the liberal elite. It cannot be interpreted any way other than: Bidisha is full of hate and she wants to live in a separatist ghetto of ‘non-woman-haters’ as defined by her.

So there was no furore in the liberal press,  no wittily-titled retort articles in The Guardian, challenging her misanthropy and ‘hate-speak’. But then the girlfriend is on the payroll. And there is one thing we know about The Guardian; it stands guard over its Jacks, Kings and Queens, and defends them against the culturally unacceptable enemies at its gates.

Here I am, standing on the other side of the moat. Here is my molotov cocktail. Here is my machete. Here is my nail-bomb. Here is my pistol.

You have your arsenal, and I have mine.


  1. arctic_jay says:

    I wish I could agree with you, not in the least because I’m a fan of Morrissey, but there’s really no explaining away his comment. Language-wise, it simply isn’t worded like one of his trademark barbs. Morrissey actually isn’t very subtle. His sarcasm is typically at Looney Tunes volume, but his weary, resigned delivery gives it wit and depth. This, however, is just anger, stupidly expressed. For one thing, by using a term as inflammatory as “sub-species” he dooms the argument into being solely about racism and celebrities’ big mouths and not at all about animal cruelty, which, as an animal rights activist, I would think should be his goal. Also, his comment can’t be about humanity’s cruelty to animals in general. Animals are far crueler than humans. Only dipshit environmentalists believe differently. To show mercy and respect to other species who happen to be nutritious and tasted good is a human virtue. By calling them a “sub-species” he deliberately separated Chinese people as failing to be fully human as the rest of us. That is racism, sorry.

    Can’t there be one musician who isn’t an idiot outside of writing songs? Just one?

  2. I could be totally wrong about Morrissey’s intentions with that line. I didn’t think it was ‘hilarious’ but it was made in the context of how he has already been branded a ‘racist’ by the liberal press. we know he isn’t stupid and that he knew his comment would get a reaction. And, it was very punchy, and quotable, unlike Bidisha’s ramblings. I am making a point about the format of humour and how we respond to different people who use it in language.

  3. Jen says:

    Old post, but I’m tempted to respond:

    – on Morrissey, I don’t even know what he means by ‘sub-species’. It *sounds* inflammatory, but what he said doesn’t even mean anything. It’s kind of an aristotelian categorisation thing. Being part of a subculture isn’t a huge insult, so I don’t really see how being part of a subspecies amounts to one. On the other hand, it would be well not to overanalyse, as I think he was probably just bored TO PIECES by Simon Armitage (and god, I don’t care about that man’s life or whether he was living with *a certain number of* Nigerians, which in the way it’s written is just as racist as anything Moz said, in the way that it’s the God of Armitage looking down on types of humanity from his lofty status as a gigantic prick). And I think he was probably so bored he just thought he’d say something sure to be controversial even though it didn’t mean anything. I’m disappointed in him and think he can do way better than that.

    – On Bidisha – fucking hell, yes, she seems to like her sentiments sweeping, doesn’t she? I remember the one where she thought anyone owning the wrong kind of porn should be jailed, and now this where it would be fine to wipe out 90% of mankind as long as non-woman-haters (defined by her, as you say) only were left behind. I still remember her writing about how she liked looking at models in magazines cause it distracted her from the ugly whey-faced people drifting by her window. Or how married women were prostitutes. Great. Fucking amazing. Argh – what a total fucking bag of cunts.

  4. Mark says:

    The Graun’s staggering hypocrisy in all this was a much, much greater crime than anything anyone might try to pin on Moz, who was, as Elly suggests, probably just being human-racist again.

    They interview him and then run THREE pieces attacking him as an EVIL RACIST to, er, big up their interview with said EVIL RACIST. But whatever spin you might put on Moz’s angry words about animal abuse, their own interviewer’s WRITTEN fantasies about ‘bare-breasted Filipino slave girls’ in the same piece got through the serried ranks of copy editors at the Graun without so much as a red pencil.

    And of course none of the indignant Graun hacks queuing up to huff and puff at Moz for being an EVIL RACIST even noticed.

    • I missed the bare breasted filipino slave girls as well! But I think that is because I am a bit of a Simon Armitage fan and so couldn’t critique him as well as people like you and Jen have Mark. Yet another of my heroes, dashed to the ground.

      P.s. I love you when you’re REALLY angry Mark. I am very fond of you all the time but especially when you’re proper raging.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s