Monday, 14 June 2010

Rambling notions of the past [Blur + Blair]

I just watched a documentary about Blur. This in itself is spectacular for two reasons; 1) I have not watched TV since Christmas and 2) it turns out that life in general was a lot more honest back in 1995. I suppose what will not catch your attention is my TV watching habits which are a bit unorthodox - if you find some spare time give me a call.

No, what really struck me after having watched that documentary was how life was so wholesomely different only 15 years ago. We did not have all the fancy gizmos we do now like mobile phones, this computer from whence this little anecdotal essay is being written, nor mocha-chinos in every corner shop. There was not this general zombie-like obsession with possession. You were not socially castigated for not having the latest iPhone or the latest fashion from Paris or New York, it seemed that it was more accepted to just be yourself.

It would appear to my mind at least that one of the potential reasons for the financial crisis we are in right now has been overlooked. Could it just be that the reason the markets are doing so badly is because we do not need anymore pointless shit, we have enough, our houses are filled to the brim with junk, really, that we simply do not have any use for. I had a conversation that with a friend yesterday and he was formally shocked when told him that I only buy things (i.e. not go on random shopping sprees) when I need things. What is the point of having 30 different t-shirts and 10 pair of jeans? This is not an onslaught on capitalism but rather an advocacy for responsible consumerism; what we are doing now is sucking the soul out of people. We pretend that to be something you have to have certain things. Celebrities go to gala parties in £25K dresses and what are you supposed to say to that? A mere mortal as you are? £25K for a fucking dress?


But what more struck me about '95 was that people seemed to be wearing basically only what made them happy. There was no uniform dress code which you would adopt in order to fit in. Now I cannot with hand-on-heart say that I think people should dress differently, women of my age are doing a formidable job in drawing attention to themselves and for that I salute them. However, what I do wonder is this; do they really want to wear all that or are they doing it just to please everyone else. Lets not pretend that males have anywhere near the same social pressure to dress appropriately, so if you are from the Equality Commission you can piss off. Rather, would it not be better if there was not this social stigmata against independence of thought? Why are people more brainwashed by the media today than they were 15 years ago? Surely the internet cannot have had that big an impact and with the dawn of the celebrity culture... Why do people want to be like them? They have nothing to their name but scandal and contort, no desirable virtues and only the worst of vices. They drive everything from government policy to Olympic planning. This used to be a country or art, culture and above all good taste but now it is one of celebrities; those that are famous for being famous.

But really going back to the documentary could it just be that back in the day we were just a bit more upfront about our intentions? We said what we liked and if someone disagreed then so be it. We wore what we did and if someone disagreed then tough luck, same thing with food and entertainment.

But now...

I cannot smoke where I want because it is not allowed anymore

I cannot wear what I want because if I do I will be labelled anti-social and provided with an ASBO

I cannot say what I want for in this culture of hypersensitivity I am sure to insult someone

I cannot write what I want for if I do I will be sued for libel

I cannot question what I want for if I do I will not "conform" and ensuing character-assasination is as sure as Saddam's beard.

I cannot drink what I want for if I do I will labelled a drunk and the prices raised to prevent me from drinking anything but lemonade

I think life was more honest because the word 'progressive' had not yet entered into mainstream parlance. And the group of progressive had hitherto been hiding in the shadows waiting for the opportune moment to seize the day and the people. When someone declares themselves a progressive, my hackles rise. What they mean in reality is that everyone else must be forced to bend to their vision of society, to conform to the socialist utopia they espouse, to be a good little prole. Progressives have no place for independently minded individuals. Progressives are the enemy of individualism, and are, therefore, the very essence of misanthropy. They choose to forget that society is composed of individuals. Progressives are to be despised utterly and completely. Perhaps, most of all is their mangling of the language. Progressives do not want progress, but regression to the dark days of the cold war eastern bloc style of living – the tractor stats will always be going up, despite the enslavement of the population and the collapse of the economy. There is nothing progressive about a progressive, just as there is nothing liberal about a liberal.

Perhaps the best way to finish this little tour-de-force is with a comment on the 'rant'. What used to be perfectly legitimate and sensible commentary on issues which certainly were important to the great majority of people have now become 'rants' and the diminished status which accompanies this particular form of essay. What today for the most part, to me at least, passes for informed and serious debate is cast aside by the media and a lot of bloggers as 'rants' purely because they refuse to listen to what is being said. Where does the imaginary line go between a 'rant' and a 'informed comment' why has the former completely engulfed the territory once housed by the comment? If you complain about something today it is automatically labelled a rant. All papers do it, most bloggs partake in this form of self-censorship and the readers, as a result, do not take the content seriously and merely go on to the next point on their reading list without actually taking onboard the gist of what was read. Like the Tories' favourite phrase "don't bang on about Europe" this is what results from labelling everything a 'rant'; people get pissed off by not being taken seriously. We will bang on about fucking Europe and the EU because it is fucking important, it might not fit your little shitty political agenda but that's life - deal with it. Just because you do not take an active interest in them does not mean they wont take an interest in you and more importantly us, those of us who have to live with the legacy of your incompetent helmsmanship of the country.

Blur might not have been the most suave of bands and they certainly indulged in a lot of profanities at the best of times. But at least they were real, and so were their fans. Could the same thing be said of Lady Gaga?


subrosa said...

If you return to 75 or 85 you'll find that pride still existed as did satisfaction in doing a good day's work. Saving for a rainy day was also the norm and few spent without knowing they had the money to spend.

Education was good, although in England it was a bit messy with regular changes to curriculums and systems, but all in all, people treated each other with a certain amount of respect.

The word celeb hadn't been invented.

13th Spitfire said...

I thought as much. Yet again Subrosa you provide a link to a time when I have none (and I do not mean that in a bad way, I have nothing but praise for your humble self).