‘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.