Tag Archives: ‘mass’ immigration trope

What’s Happening To Stand-up Comedy In Britain?

I’m one of the judges for the New Acts of The Year and we’re about half way through the contest. One thing that I and other judges have noticed is the general lack of political and philosophical engagement with the world among novice comedians. There are also a worrying number of acts who either have no material or have nothing interesting to say. Some have even ventured into misogyny, homophobia and casual racism in a feeble attempt to get laughs. What we also tend to find is that, rather than present a quirky view of the world, some of these novice comedians are giving us a spoken version of their CV. Is this what people are being taught to do at the many stand-up comedy courses that have proliferated since the early 1990s? I think it is. Whatever the case, British stand-up comedy is on its sick bed.

For the last few days, many comedians have been talking about Andrew Lawrence’s alleged support for UKIP and his attack on immigrants. Even UKIP leader Nigel Farage has given Lawrence his support.   A potential kiss of death? Possibly. Only time will tell. What has the world come to when today’s comedians are embracing anti-immigration rhetoric and railing against diversity? Are we really heading back in time to the immediate post-colonial period when comedians used trot out a stream of racist and sexist gags and used “it’s only a joke” as a defence? Sometimes it seems that way.  In Lawrence’s case, it’s easy to suggest that he’s doing this to attract attention. On the other hand, perhaps he, like so many others, is suffering from cognitive dissonance or maybe he’s just a right-wing reactionary arsehole. At any rate, there is an absence of critical thinking to his rant and I would argue that this is indicative of a malaise that is currently affecting the entire country, especially in England, where this negative attitude towards difference seems rife. This malaise is particularly manifest in those people who believe UKIP is ‘anti-establishment’ or ‘anti-politics’.  ‘Anti-politics’? Really? There is no such thing as ‘anti-politics’. Everything is political. UKIP is an anti-intellectual party that appeals to anti-intellectuals, who believe the country’s myriad problems can be solved by simply ‘pulling up the drawbridge’.

On Lawrence’s Facebook page, he attempts to “clarify” his earlier post but is actually reiterating what he said previously. In effect, he ends up digging himself an even bigger hole of gargantuan proportions:

A comedian from a minority background who uses their own ethnicity as a foundation for the whole of their act, rather than looking at wider aspects of society and exploring outside of their own personal experience.

And then says:

Quotas have been introduced, whereby every panel show must book a certain number of female and ethnic comedians, regardless of ability or merit.

Objectively then, there are comedians on panel shows who are there first and foremost because of their gender or ethnicity.

But it gets worse:

Because there is currently not a sufficiently large enough pool of female comedians with the requisite experience and ability to fill the quota, there are females who’ve been booked for these shows who are either poor comedians, not comedians at all, or aspiring female comedians that are still learning their craft, but have not yet reached a decent professional standard.

These females I have described as ‘women-posing-as-comedians’.

The upshot of all that is that there are still many women coming across incredibly badly on panel shows, which is helping to perpetuate the myth that women aren’t funny.

The hope is that women currently on panel shows, will further legitimise stand-up comedy as a career for women and encourage other women to take up comedy. Which is an admirable aim.

Unfortunately for every female who gets on a panel show, there are very many male comedians with more ability and experience who are not and will never get the opportunity to be on one. I think that’s a great shame for TV audiences.

And for his finale:

Oh, and I don’t have a problem with properly regulated immigration and I don’t have a problem with immigrants.

I do have a great deal of concern about the lack of border controls in this country and subsequent gross overpopulation as a result of EU legislation, which I believe adversely affects all our quality of life.

Here Lawrence uncritically accepts UKIP’s position on immigration and seeks to rationalize this position by summoning up the Malthusian claim of “overpopulation” to lend some kind of intellectual gravitas to his narrativization. This is exactly what Malthusian think-tank Migration Watch UK (and Bill Oddie) does all the time.  But this claim that there is a “lack of proper border controls” is not only ludicrously melodramatic, it’s a complete myth. He claims that he isn’t a UKIP supporter but that claim is pretty meaningless, given the fact that he’s regurgitated the same myths as Kippers and the rest of the English Right. Lawrence, if anything, is a reactionary, though it’s not something that he would readily admit. Instead, he complains that comedians are making jokes about UKIP. Diddums.

Let’s return to Lawrence’s comment about “minority comedians”, who he claims use their ethnicity as the basis of their act. Here, he doesn’t even try to understand why this is the case. He’s a white male stand-up and looks more or less like every other white male stand-up. If you’re black or a woman (or both), you have certain visual signifiers that differentiate you from the rest of the pack and may make jokes about those things. That’s what happens. If you have red hair or you’re fat, you will also make jokes about those things. That’s what happens. Yet, for Lawrence, it’s as if over 200 years of colonialism and racism never happened and that things are all right now because this is the year 2014 and people have stopped being racist. Sure they have. Yet for all the white male faces on television, the numbers of black faces on panel shows is so small as to be non-existent. Can you think why that is? I can. It’s called institutionalized racism and it’s a product of the dominant class’s early socialization. The vast majority of producers and commissioning editors come from public school and Oxbridge backgrounds. In their schools, some of which are all boy schools, they never see any females apart from those who are employed to teach or make beds. Black pupils are just as much of a rarity, thus commissioning editors tend to employ those people who are most like them: white and male.

With regards to women comedians, Lawrence has painted himself into a corner by claiming on the one hand that there aren’t a large number of women comics and on the other,  this small number of women comics is responsible for inferior female talent because male numbers are superior. Confused? Don’t be. It’s the anti-intellectual tripe of a knee-jerk reactionary. Like so many white [right-wing] males, Lawrence is playing the victim and it’s as if to say “It’s all the fault of those horrible wimmin with their feminism. They’re oppressing me”.  Lawrence is offering nothing new and is merely repeating the worn-out fallacy that women aren’t funny. Let me tell you something, Andrew, a lot of women are funnier than men, they just don’t get the same opportunities as white males who constantly refer to their genitalia and their apparent sexual inadequacies/perversions. Boring, huh?

The current malaise in British stand-up comedy is an indication of an overall malaise that hangs over this country like miasma. We have now entered a time when the very idea of tolerance is being pissed on, not only by right-wing politicians, but also by selfish misogynistic comics for cheap laughs, who believe they’re ‘pushing the boundaries’. The dominant discourses in this country have been orientated to the right for the last 35 years. People walk around talking in market-speak without realizing it. Other people repeat phrases like “Benefit claimants are addicted to the state” and “We need to have cuts” without thinking about them. Some, like Toby Young, believe that free speech means you can say anything you like without being criticized or being called an ‘idiot’ for it. However, if you’re tolerant and see immigration as a benefit to the nation, you’re shouted down, while those who oppose immigration complain that their voices “aren’t heard” even though the newspapers are full of articles complaining about immigration, and which rely on the usual myths, tropes and hyperbolic flights of fancy like “the country is crowded” to make their spurious points.

If comedy acts as a barometer for the political and social health of a nation, then Britain or, at least, England is a very sick patient indeed. It is obsessed with nostalgia and ready to blame its condition on everything but the system that produces inequalities and untold miseries. Instead, women, ethnic minorities and immigrants are scapegoated for a system that has comprehensively failed to deliver. Those in power in Westminster are happy to allow this continue and comedians like Andrew Lawrence are more than happy to act on their behalf. Sometimes I think the battles that we fought in the 1980s were for nothing.

 

 

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Comedy, comedy, Ideologies, immigration, National Identity, Popular culture, racism, sexism, social class, Society & culture

Telegraph Comment of the Week (#17)

The thing about today’s racists is that they don’t like to be called racists. Yet that it is what they are and describing yourself as an ‘ethno-nationalist’ doesn’t let  you off the hook either. In fact, an ethno-nationalist is exactly the same thing as a racist. If you look at blogs like those on the Telegraph or Express websites, you will always see the racists jumping up and down and whining that they’re being labelled ‘racists’. Seriously, these racists doth protest too much. Diddums. Life’s so unfair.

This blog from the Torygraph’s token black blogger, Selena Grey, has the kind of title that gets all the racists chiming in with their tuppence worth. Indeed the fact that she’s black is enough to get some ranting and raving about ‘white genocide’.

Grey opens with this paragraph that’s bound to get the racists  baying for blood and demanding there be such a thing as ‘white history’ on the school curriculum.

Black History Month is all about learning. I certainly learnt something this year. I trekked across England as a panelist on the Great Debate Tour. The tour travels to university campuses through October and November and invites black and ethnic minority students to Question Time style debates on immigration, integration, voter registration and enterprise.

She then goes on to describe how some black students defied her expectations and complained about the amount of racism had poisoned the so-called immigration ‘debate’.

At Goldsmiths University the panel was asked whether immigrants take jobs from Brits or merely do the jobs that Brits are unwilling to do. I shared how my hardworking British friends in the construction industry found themselves undercut and almost unemployed when the Polish builders first arrived on the scene. In response to my contribution an enraged black female student raised her hand and yelled “if your friends couldn’t compete with the Polish maybe they’re just crap businessmen”.

Did you see how she set up that paragraph? She fell back on the auld canard that immigrants come here and “take jobs from Brits”. She’s a crowd-pleaser and no mistake.

To press her point, Grey carefully selects the correct black voices to lend support to her dreary argument. Here’s one:

At Oxford University, a black female student was furious at our politicians’ inability to discuss, address or control immigration. At Manchester University, a black female student was annoyed to find herself in the English-speaking minority on her Medical Science degree course. At Greenwich University, a black charity worker from East London shared his deep-seated irritation at how the local culture had been transformed by Asian and Somali immigrants: “I feel uncomfortable” he said. His candid comment led to an awkward silence.

Nothing like divide and rule, eh? The sad thing is that Grey has fallen for it. Yet if the anti-immigrationists ever got their way, guess who they’d turn on next? Uh huh, that’s right, people with black or brown skin. That hasn’t crossed Grey’s mind nor the minds of second generation immigrants who think it’s reasonable to enter into the same side of the knee-jerk ‘debate’ on immigration as white racists.

Grey closes with this paragraph:

One concern of the Great Debate founders is that blacks are not as politically active as whites. But immigration was the one issue black people in these audiences did have a political opinion about. And black Brits are uncomfortable with it.

If she’s trying to ingratiate herself and the black people she claims to speak for to a bunch of xenophobes, then she will fail.

Now for this week’s comment. This one is from “tedsanityville” who’s appeared on this blog once before.

tedinsanityville

Notice how the racists can’t avoid using zoological terminology to describe non-white people. Other cultures – the filthy hordes – “breed”, unlike pure white Brits (itself an oxymoron) who also breed, though the racists will often referred to it as ‘shagging’.  This is how white racists see others: as lesser beings, even animals.

See how “tedinsanityville” extends the ‘crowded island’ canard to “mainland Europe”. Their countries “are shitholes” declares this racist without a trace of irony. Everyone else lives in a ‘shithole’ but these people.

“brendalacluster” then chips in with an ‘Amen, brother’. Her suggestion is that the reason for “failing hospitals, schools etc” is because of those immigrant darkies, who come over here with the intention of destroying Britain’s infrastructure. It never occurs to people like this that the country is being destroyed by a ruling class that uses the NHS and education as political footballs. Like the ruling class, these xenophobes and racists would much rather blame someone else. Why? Because it’s easy and they’re incapable of critical thinking.

I have a simple proposition: if people who are against immigration don’t want to be called ‘racist’, they could start by not being racists in the first place. See? It’s easy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, propaganda, Racism, Telegraph Comment of the Week, Tory press

Telegraph Comment of the Week (#16)

It’s been 16 weeks since I started the Telegraph Comment of the Week and in that time, the vast majority of the comments I’ve featured here have been left by self-described ethno-nationalists who baulk at the thought of being called ‘racists’.  Yet this is what they are and there is no escape for them. No matter how hard these people try to rationalise their racism as eminently sensible and logical, they always end up making themselves look foolish as well as hate-filled.

This week’s comment was found on this blog by Alan Johnson, no not the right-wing Labour MP, but the Torygraph columnist. His mini-biography describes him as…

… the Editor of Fathom: for a deeper understanding of Israel and the region and Senior Research Fellow at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM). A professor of democratic theory and practice, he is an editorial board member of Dissent magazine, and a Senior Research Associate at The Foreign Policy Centre.

A “deeper understanding of Israel”? Come again? That is not the aim of BICOM (British Israel Communications and Research Centre), which is, for all intents and purposes, the British version of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Like its American counterpart, BICOM acts as a propaganda and lobbying arm of the Israeli state and exists to demonize opponents of Israel’s military and social actions. Its role is to also cosmeticize Israeli brutality in the Occupied Territories and Gaza and to drum up support for a war against Iran.

The title of Johnson’s blog is designed to attract loads of frothing-at-the-mouth nationalist types who whine and moan about ‘halal’ and ‘dhimmitude’. The title is:

George Orwell betrayed: Islamist Tariq Ramadan gives a lecture in his name

Here are the opening paragraphs.

This week in London, the annual George Orwell Lecture was given by the Islamist writer Tariq Ramadan. Where is one to start?

George Orwell was against religious censorship. Tariq Ramadan campaigned successfully to cancel a production of Voltaire’s play Le fanatisme, ou Mahomet le Prophete in Geneva.

Orwell was a rational man. When Ramadan taught at the College de Saussure he argued in favour of Islamic biology over Darwin.

I’ll tell you what isn’t ‘”rational”: the tone of Johnson’s article.

Cue today’s headbanger! Today’s commenter is “journeyman” who writes:

journeyman numpty

This is the rant of a  typical BNP type. Notice the hysterical tone of the comment: the way he (I assume it was a he wrote this dreck) rails against “anti-racism” and complains of “White historical guilt”. Notice how he also falls back on Nazi-style hygiene metaphors by using the words “healthy and auto-immune defence mechanisms”. Anyone who isn’t in “journeyman’s” eyes one of ‘us’ is by definition a ‘parasite’. Yet, what these people seem to forget in their rush to claim the ‘West’ is more civilized than any other point on the compass, is the brutality that was used to subdue colonized peoples in Africa, Asia and The Americas. There was nothing ‘civilized’ about the European genocide of the American Indians or the Australian Aborigines.

When hardline right-wingers like “journeytoparanoia” rant and rave about social hygiene, it’s only a matter of time till they start playing the victim.

By doing this the Left aided and abetted in Global Capital / Corporatism’s unquenchable thrist for cheap labour and profit, by crushing any resistance to mass immigration by demonising it as ” fascist ” “bigot ” ” racist ” ” hate monger ” “nazi “

Here, our fascist friend uses words that allude to The Protocols, then he complains that he and his violent ilk are being “demonised”. There’s an old saying where I come from. ‘If the cap fits’ and the cap fits this fasho so well.

The last part of this comment is completely off-the-scale in terms of its ridiculousness.

The Capitalist billionaires who donate to Left wing causes are not “right wing ”  They are Capitalists who support Left wing agendas like the Koch Brothers or Soros who are pro-mass immigration .

The Koch Brothers are what? Left-wing? Not according to all the available information, they’re not. Naturally, “journeytothebin” closes with a much-loved phrase of the anti-immigrationist right: “mass immigration”. Nothing like an appeal to emotion, eh?

Coherent thinking is not the forte of the far-right, hence the potpourri of hate-speech and paranoid ramblings. Their ideas are produced out of hatred, prejudice and fear. They use emotional phrases to play on the heart-strings of gullible members of the public, some of whom will claim they are in favour of ‘free speech’. But in allowing these people to dominant the discourse on immigration, they unwittingly allow the entire debate to be poisoned with the rhetoric of hate and intolerance.

Remember, if you’ve seen a comment on the Telegraph website that you think qualifies as a candidate for Telegraph Comment of the Week, then post a screenshot of the comment and a link to the original article to buddyhell@hotmail.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Telegraph Comment of the Week, Tory press

The Immigration ‘Debate’

Do something now or we'll end up with someone like this as Prime Minister

We need to do something now or we’ll end up with someone like Geert Wilders as Prime Minister

Every time I hear the words, “Let’s have a debate on immigration”, I wonder if that’s what the speaker actually wants. What I’ve found, more often than not, is a desire on the part of the speaker or speakers to control the discourse on immigration. All too often, there is an ugly discourse lying behind the façade of this apparent ‘need’ to want to ‘debate’ the subject of immigration.

What’s worse are the numbers of self-described ‘left-liberals’ who are prepared to countenance some pretty appalling views for the sake of ‘free speech’. These people are willing to listen and even respond – albeit feebly – to the discourses offered by the anti-immigrationists, whose speech has not changed one iota since the 1970s. Yet, the left-liberals seem to sincerely believe they can have a rational and sensible dialogue with people whose views on minorities, women and the disabled are frankly obscene. To adapt Fanon: if they’re talking about immigrants (or Muslims), then they’re also talking about you. While our ‘left-liberal’ friends are politely debating Nazis and other hardcore right-wingers, attacks against minority groups including the disabled are on the rise in Britain.

And now we hear the old hate speech again, the talk of ‘floods’, ‘invasions’ and being ‘swamped’ are  joined by  familiar words associated with hygiene like ‘contamination’. Other emotive  phrases like ‘mass immigration’ are deployed to appeal to people’s emotions. More recently, I’ve seen words like ‘genocide’ and ‘treason’ being used on public internet fora. Take this example of a comment left on Douglas Carswell’s nit-picking diatribe against the recent UCL study into immigration on Telegraph blogs:

JohannKierk

“Genocide”. Yes, this is the kind of language used by those who want a ‘debate’ on immigration.  The definintion of the word ‘genocide’ is:

noun

[mass noun]

  • the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group:

Hysteria, hyperbole, histrionics, paranoia and playing the victim are all part of the right’s strategy to control the discourse on immigration and the liberals fall for it every time.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard or read, ‘Our voices aren’t being heard’. Utter rubbish. Nigel Farage has appeared on Question Time 25 times since 2009 and the views that are expressed by these vile simpletons grace the comments threads of the Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express every day of the week.  Articles with sensationalistic titles, such as the one cited by our racist friend here, help to reproduce the poisonous discourse of nationalism and its fixation on a pure, but nonetheless, constructed ‘British’ identity.

Even the supposedly ‘left-wing’ Labour Party has taken the bait and pandering to the Tory-supporting press, UKIP and the notional but bloodthirsty man-on-the-street, it too wants a ‘debate’; its spokespeople admitting that Labour ‘got it wrong’ when it was in power. What seems to have escaped the Fabian Party’s attention is that these anti-immigrant discourses have only become more vocal since the Crash of 2008.  If there’s a problem with the economy, then in the minds of the racists and the gullible it’s the fault of the immigrants. It was like that in the 1930s and 1970s and its come back with a vengeance.  It’s as though the events of history have been wiped from the collective memory of these postmodern politicians as they pursue the grand prize of everlasting political power. What do they care beyond paying lip service?

Any mention of racism to these people is greeted with ‘anti-racism is a code for anti-white’. How on earth can you reason with people like this? You can’t. If gullible liberals believe they can have a polite discussion with these extreme nationalists, then they are deluding themselves. This is no time for cordiality.

If you want to see what could happen in Britain in 10 years time, look across the North Sea to the Netherlands, where Geert Wilders racist PVV party is currently ahead in the polls.  On Wednesday, Wilders is due to meet Marine Le Pen of France’s racist Front National. Two years ago, UKIP’s then leader, Malcolm (Lord) Pearson, welcomed Wilders to the House of Lords to show his film, Fitna. Be in no doubt, these parties enjoy the warmest of relations in the European Parliament and for all their talk of freedom, they want to enslave those of us who are different.

Britain, it’s time to wake up. We need to respond to the attacks on our communities and we need to hit the anti-immigrationists hard.  These people cannot be reasoned with. If you turn your back to them, they will plunge a knife into it. You have been warned.

UPDATE 13/11/13 @ 0941

David ‘Shoot the Bastards’ Blunkett channels Enoch Powell in this article on the BBC website.

Tensions between local people and Roma migrants could escalate into rioting unless action is taken to improve integration, David Blunkett has warned.

The former home secretary fears a repeat of race riots that hit northern cities in 2001.

His concerns centre on the Page Hall area of Sheffield, where Roma migrants from Slovakia have set up home.

But he also accused the government of “burying their head in the sand” over the scale of Roma settlement in the UK.

In an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield, he said the Roma community had to make more of an effort to fit in with British culture.

“We have got to change the behaviour and the culture of the incoming community, the Roma community, because there’s going to be an explosion otherwise. We all know that.”

It’s hard to believe that Blunkett was once the leader of one of the most left-wing councils in Britain. Now he earns praise from Falange.

Mr Blunkett’s intervention was praised by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who campaigns against the ending of border controls for migrants from Romania and Bulgaria, both countries with significant Roma populations.

“The fact that he is talking of the significant difficulties with the Roma population already in his constituency should be taken seriously by the likes of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband.

“My question is if they won’t listen to the dangers of opening the door to Romania and Bulgaria next year when UKIP speak out on it, will they listen to David Blunkett? I certainly hope so.”

Look at Blunkett now, doing the dirty work of the right.  Shame? He doesn’t know the meaning of the word.

Leave a comment

Filed under immigration, Islamophobia, Labour Party, Media, Neoliberalism, Political parties, Society & culture, Tories, Tory press, UKIP, Yellow journalism