Friday, 9 December 2011

Chav-bashing ideogram

25 comments:

Phil Knight said...

There's something Magritte-esque about Amis's making a caricature of himself portraying people who are themselves caricatures.

Alex, you should write a novel about an author called Bill Selfism who mixes in an urban-rural media set which includes dyspeptic petrolhead journalist Quentin Gerbil, Britpop bass player Damon Hearse, Prime Minister Tarquin Arse etc....

David W. Kasper said...

A song that springs to mind was by that horrible band 'Gene' (remember them? Can't remember name of the song) about the simply dreadful townie ruffians our heroic aesthete has to put up with while trying to read Auden in the beer garden. His foppish disdain was well performed in the dramatised video. Like Suede, they were overhyped, short-lived clagnuts between the huge Smiths jobbie and the great Britpop wipe-up.

The role of 'indie', as genre conformity rather than business model - and moreover the music press' devoted attention to its vapid 'witticisms' - played a major role in building 'chav' (or 'townie') hate. Similarly, the distinctly pseudo-effete green and unpleasant Little England 'counter-culturalism' represented by magazines like the Idler (especially its major success story, Crap Towns), YBAs, 'alternative' comedy (now public schoolboys telling rape jokes) and the kind of 80s/90s Granta-prodigies still clogging up lead articles in Guardian Review.

No matter who the above voted for, they all played a part in the rise of David Cameron (and indeed Blair). They generated the oxygen that allowed him to breathe. For this, history should offer no forgiveness.

Phil Knight said...

Think the fetish for higher education also plays a part in this - "Uni" as a way of "escaping" the "crap town" full of "chavs" - Blair's 50% as the ultimate social divide, as though widening the elite to include the kids of the upper working and lower middle classes was the same as abolishing it.

What's interesting in hindsight is, as usual, the delusional nature of the whole thing - as though all the self-declared "individuals" could escape to some mythical Brighton or Camden-of-the-mind, while places like Grimsby or Luton or Stevenage shrivel away into non-existence.

David W. Kasper said...

Good point about about higher education delusions. Our Crap Towns are teeming with depressed graduates who once dreamed of escape, armed with nothing but flowers in their pockets and a phrasebook of the latest indie subgenres.

The hegemony of aspirational 'indie' since the 90s reflected Blair's university policies. The painful death of it as anything remotely 'oppositional' reflect Cameron's.

David W. Kasper said...

"My heart beats with an indie mind"

http://web.archive.org/web/20080526225903/http://www.whorecull.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=63&Itemid=42

William said...

But thing about Amis and Blur c.93-5 was that they also played at being working class, then satirised it. Amis was a teenage mod/skinhead (there are photos to prove this) and I remember reading a description of Amis and his 'crew' walking into a pub in Hammersmith and then playing darts and pool.

Blur did this too with their mod/skin/casual fashion hybrid. Then 'Parklife' and Phil Daniels. Alban says he is a Chelsea fan, despite being from Essex etc. I suspect Alex James never bothered to pretend he was into this stuff.

Phil Knight said...

There's a wheels-within-wheels component to this though, in that somebody like Katie Price is essentially a creation of Amis's class - Oxbridge meeja types who are eternally seeing how far they can "push" things. It's like The Sun is perenially edited by Public School types like George Pascoe-Watson who pretend to be hard-nosed barrow boys.

The Lottery is basically a tax on the underclass, feeding on their dreams of escape to fund metropolitan worthiness.

It's Amis's class that has created modern Britain, and yet the targets of his "satire" are the victims.

That said, all this has given me an idea.....

Culla said...

all this Embracing of the Inner Prole was part of Damon's anti-American drive. For him, anything British or more accurately English was fair game for hyping, and knocking around [with] the working class was a bit of cockernee fun, he didnt have to get too involved. he was also embracing the falsified history of a recent, less bourgeois past, having moved from leytonstone to colchester (though i doubt his parents were on the breadline back in E11).

the discarding of bourg shackles and embracing of prole east london (an area/kulcha whose main signfifers are easily identiable in the mass consciousness) is a very convenient, oft-repeated proxy, much like the actual movement of students and postgrads to boho inner east london itself. some of them genuinely think they're keeping it real despite their highly elegant slumming. and it's much more convincing than doing it in clapham or islington. notice how it's always hackney, dalston, bow, whitechapel that get colonised, never Canning Town, Forest Gate, anywhere east of the A12. Stratford is being made safe now but it wont gain the mythical character the hipsters need for their fun-ride.

Albarn would understand the importance in pop of a bit of artifice, thus the cockney-loving was a toy to be picked up and played with at the time of a certain phase (brit populism) then discarded when others come along. these days i should think when Damon wakes up he barely remembers he's a chelsea fan; or why he supported them. Probably not, he's too shrewd for that. He may also bristle at the idea he was playing with the imagery but like the hipsters hanging around the louche corners of hackney, would deep down know he was just taking the piss out of the proles. From a safe distance

yes, corporate indie could shoulder a lot of blame for british class polarisation and exploitation, maybe more than the 'look mum ive escaped' university experience itself

carl said...

and of course they started coming out with all that "our culture is under attack" press conference stuff at the same time there was a surge in support for the BNP and Derek Beacon got elected in the Isle of Dogs, the sneaky, opportunistic, racist cunts

Culla said...

we forget all those in the last 20 years of these trends who sit on the fence with their sporty-esque retro sports gear and trainers that are a bit like those worn by real men they have a kind of loathsome awe of when they're sharing SkySports pub space, before they shoot off to the more discerning disco. oh shit was this me?!

it's for many of these sly and dodgy reasons cited in the comments above why 'indie' is still used as a term, a dissembling term, even though it has hardly any currency as a musical genre/movement anyway. it implies taste, difference, 'serious content' and knowledge to the point of trainspottery about the given topic - all perfect training for a life as a consumer. And in the modern marketplace the avowed indie fan may not need give any of those bands up as he matures. ATP anyone?

carl said...

i seem to remember Sonia from Echobelly wearing a Union Jack Tshirt emblazoned with "my country too" or somesuch, so there was definitely a sense of racist threat hanging around brit pop..Cornershop were vocal too at the time though I cant remember exatly what they said...but there was strong sense they were dismissed/patronized for not being white...you dont get our culture etc

David W. Kasper said...

Carl - I forgot about that little convergence. They tried to point the finger at the resurgence of US hard rock, but the undertones were there.

More superficially, I couldn't stand Damon and co cos when baggy went out of fashion, they got all 'Essex Boy'. Then when the prole-minstrel market got cornered by Oasis, they went all 'sincere' (imitating Spiritualized). Then when Kula Shaker copied Spiritualized, they went 'back to basics' (imitating Pavement). Then when multiculturalism was the (brief) buzzword for Blair's New Model Middle Class, Gorrilaz appeared. Then when people couldn't be arsed paying for music anymore, it was exclusive West End musicals!

BTW when I lived in Glasgow, what was to become Franz Ferdinand were plying their wares on the circuit. By the time they hit it big at the age of 35, they had a go at being Nick Cave, Tindersticks, Stereolab and Pulp, until the Strokes and 'death disco' revival was all the rage in hipsterdom - then they suddenly decided to party like it was 1979. Very much the (shorter-lived) Blur of the 00s. Their ubiquity on pop TV proved 'indie' was speaking with a corpse in its mouth.

David Bowie has a lot to answer for - even if he did pull off the 'chameleon' routine with a lot more imagination, talent and pizazz.

David W. Kasper said...

Yeah - Cornershop, Echobelly, Skunk Anansie, Dr. Phibes, and even (Irish, avant-garde) My Bloody Valentine and (Krautrocky French Communist-led) Stereolab I suppose too - all pretty big with the student crowd around 1994, along with the (very diverse) US acts that rode in on the back of 'grunge'. Hiphop and rave were embedded in the mainstream by then too. 'Post-rock' meant more than what it means now too.

Then Alan McGee Stepped in with his moptop putsch, ITN news suddenly discovered 'indie', men's magazines got into laddism, and Cool Britannia was all the rage.

Phil Knight said...

I dunno, all 90's music sounds a bit small to me, a bit pokey, so I kind of have trouble taking a strong opinion on any of it.

The only Britpop I liked was the naff, critically-abhored stuff like Cast, Reef etc. I was kind of of the opinion that this is all shit, so I'll enjoy the shit that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Anyway, my idea above was for a collective "Luther Blisset" style novel that satirises Martin Amis and his milieu as a response to his latest tome. We should only go ahead with it if it is pant-pissingly funny to put together, though.....

carl said...

I am always up for Luther Blisset style anything...

Alex Niven said...

I'm late to the party on this but the novel idea sounds good.

Something has to be done about this fucking sycophantic Hitchens nightmare ...

Trouble is, applying the same sort of mean-spirited satirical mode to Amis and Co would just further the malaise, wouldn't it? Perhaps you'd have to portray them as heroic humanitarian idealists or something to make the irony work.

JM said...

Aw, I like Gorillaz. :(

JM said...

and you all realize Damon did vote against both wars which Blair supported, yes?

William said...

Around the time that Noel Gallagher visited number 10, Albarn announced that he would be voting for the Communist Party at the next election.

carl said...

it's true, he's a complex character, i remember him hardstaring Johnny Vaughan during an interview for the movie "Face" after Vaughan callaed him Comrade Albarn in reference to his leftist take on the film... and i do like The Good The Bad and The Queen, plus I have to confess i also like the Blur track The Universal...

hmmm... you wouldn't want to advocate him, but he is interestingly symptomatic

William said...

I remember that incident - on 'Movie Watch' on Channel Four? I think Albarn has some family connections with the CPGB (as do some remembers of Radiohead). Johnny Vaughn is also on record as being a supporter of the SWP - maybe they were having a sectarian dispute?

Phil Knight said...

tbh, I thought of the nom-de-plume Martin Aimless, and then thought "Ah....this is too good to waste".

The trouble I have is that I don't know enough about all these people to satirise them myself (never read a single Amis book, for example), so I could start something off, but wouldn't have the in-depth knowledge to stay on-target.

But I suppose the "Luther Blissett" idea is that we do go off-target i.e. satirising Amis is merely a launching point into areas that are more worthwhile....

Anyway, as I proposed this, I might chuck something together/scope it out/firm it up and then fly it up the flag pole and see who salutes.....

DCAAS said...

Another anti-Britpop post? Isn't the whole " sub-genre that dare not speak its name " angle a bit over-stressed. Personally I'm looking forward to the day when a person can say " actually I always quite liked Britpop " in the same way you can say " actually I was a bit of a glam rocker in my time " or " beleive it or not I was a new romantic. " There is a definite air of protesting too much about all this. What I find really strange is that it's those who claim to have hated Britpop who are still going on about it 15 years on whereas those of us who when push comes to shove will admit we liked a lot of it see it as a pleasent memory which wasn't meant to last. I certainly don't see it as a major cause (or in some case even a cause) in as many problems as it's held accountable for on this site. Oh by the way as a fan of Echobelly can I point out Sonyas t-shirt was an anti-BNP statement but hey it was a racist genre never forget that.

carl said...

by all means join us and write that pro-Britpop post!

Julian Bond said...

Way back up there, Phil said: all the self-declared "individuals" could escape to some mythical Brighton or Camden-of-the-mind, while places like Grimsby or Luton or Stevenage shrivel away into non-existence.

Have you been to Harlow, or Stevenage, or Luton, or Scunthorpe lately? They're increasingly populated by the other 50% that didn't get invited into the elite. But also by surprising amounts of money that are regenerating parts of the towns at the same time as the 60s Brutalist town centres turn into dystopian wastelands. These places are not static, innit.