Exploits of the Frictionless Man as it wanders around the world like some kind of slippery hydra. Music, words and pictures a speciality.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Springer vs Whitehouse

I heartily enjoyed Saturday night's Jerry Springer the Opera - thought it was a quality comic affair. Although I have to say that Ricky Jervais' use of the word cunt in "Politics" far outstrips the description of the Devil by the chorus line in "Springer".

However what is even more amusing than the production itself is the furor created by the moral middle classes and their "disgust" at the content of the play. I had a read of the Guardian article this morning that reveals that death threats were sent to the controller of BBC 2. Well done Christians! That's the way to do it!

So what have we learned boys and girls? From the Sikh community's successful opposition to Behzti, Bush's desire to ban all "pro-homosexual" drama and now this farce over an opera , it seems that there are some religious groups out there who are being encouraged by recent gains and are seeking to drag us all back to the fold. Or denounce us who won't go as degenerates and threaten us with violence and death. Grand! That's going to help spread love and forgiveness around the globe.

Now from the point of view of the artist it is quite a worry. What do you do when you create something provocative? Keep it under your hat, hope that it never gets any attention? Seems counter-intuitive to me. Head down, get it finished and don't give out your home address.

Of course people will discuss artistic rights of expression all the way through this, and it should be stressed that no one has a right not to be offended and not to be critiscised. What we do have a right to do is express ourselves in whatever way we see fit. What I can't understand is that the people who create art that is deemed as offensive usually still have their critical faculties intact. People who view something with potentially offensive content and react by saying "I don't like it, but I understand the artistic motivation to create it" also, usually, have their critical faculties intact. But those people who do not even have to see a piece before deeming it "blasphemous" because Mrs Sander-Watkins from the WI said it contained 10,000 swear words and an image of St Augustine bare knuckle boxing in a barn in Somerset rarely seem to display any critical faculty at all. Why then should they have more of a voice than people who are actually attempting to add to the sum of human knowledge, in whatever way they are doing it?

And, from personal experience, they are awfully boring. What kind of life do they think God intends for us? Because from over here with the heathens and degenerates it looks damn dull.


14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh you really are a twat Ross.

Mr Frictionless said...

Better a twat than an irrelevance. Thanks for nothing.

Anonymous said...

And also... should the artist accept any responsibility for their work? Should we be free to express anything? Should we deny the Sikh community having an opinion? Should we ignore the fact that we believe anyone except an artist has genuine feelings/emotions/opinions? Yes, artists should have freedom of expression. Yes, artists must weigh up the consequences of their actions. You are making a pointless point. There will always be action and reaction to certain forms of expression. Your invective against the moralists sounds like petulant intolerance. If you want the freedom to glue your poster then let them have the same rights. You sound like a fascist. Shame on you. I have a right not to be offended!!!!! Here's one for you; can I make a concept album denying the holocaust and actively extolling the virtues of industrialised racial killing? Should I make this record? I'm sure there is an audience. Shall I make it a reggae album? Shall I?

Mr Frictionless said...

Well, I wasn’t quite expecting that. I take back the thanks for nothing bit.

Lets have a look then.

As far as petulant intolerance and nascent fascism, well I never really thought of myself like that, but I know my mother does

The piece was prompted by a report in the Guardian that certain groups had issued threats of violence against the BBC producer who had scheduled the show. My point, which I can only assume was deficient in its exposition, was that I found it saddening that moral outrage stalked the streets with violence in its blood and the arbiters of moral decency yet again forgot to realise that threats of violence are by definition immoral. It is obviously preferable to actually give someone a beating and make his or her real lives hellish, rather than watch it on TV.

What can be achieved by reacting in this fashion? That was my point. I’m not sure at all about where you draw the line about the content of the art that you create. I can’t begin to imagine the sort of influences that would make someone want to produce a Holocaust denying reggae album. What I would not do is threaten to kill the guy who made it. I just would not buy it. And here’s another point that we can all agree is “pointless”. If there is no audience for something, how will it ever be viewed? Surely whether something can or cannot be made is an irrelevance. Is it not more important to ask “why was it made?”

Anonymous said...

Of course you don't have a right not to be offended. That's as absurd as saying I have the right not to listen to Jazz.

hugo nagasaki said...

The times they are a'changing....or not. only the future will tell. Anonymous, i love that name, how about Anonymour, slightly french. Any way anyone has the right to like, listen to, absorb, and manufacture anything they want, concurrent with the abiding laws, but i to agree with the right not to listen to jazz. oh we are witty

Anonymous said...

You do actually have a right not to listen to jazz. Nobody can force jazz on you. If you hear jazz accidentally then you can run away or put your fingers in your ears. If somebody forces jazz on you against your will then you can call the Police or obtain some kind of restraining order or ABSO. I still defend my right not to be offended. If a holocaust denying reggae album is made and promoted (not as far fetched as you would think) then I would campaign for its removal from shops. The album would offend my personal moral/ethical code and I would feel that I should have to protest.

I don't believe in state censorship. I strongly believe that any protest (whether from a Christian fundamentalist or tiny atheistic me) is valid and worthy in its own way.

Anonymous said...

And also.....if you make a really dangerous bit of art then people (with strong views) will get a bit tasty. That is what happens. So people with strong religious views get hyper-angry when the core of their faith is insulted? Big surprise!!!I may think they are foolish but i'm not them so what do I know? Their moral/ethical code is the binary opposite of mine.

What I hate is when artists make a deliberately contentious piece of political art and then say "duh, why is everyone so angry?" I want artists to make contentious art with a big sign on it saying "this art is going to really upset you and I know you will be angry but that was why I made it, so polish your baseball bats".

You really need big signs in a world where everyone is very, very stupid. I'm bored with this now so i'm not going to visit your website again.

Mr Frictionless said...

And we never knew his name....

Next week: The politics of lard.

Frictionlessbass said...

How awfully sexist of you mr friction! Don't you realise that you should always refer to anonymous people as it or that thing?

Frictionlessbass said...

Did I call you mr friction? If I did I'm terribly sorry.

Mr Frictionless said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr Frictionless said...

And thankyou for the support! Right, you're making the tea at the next rehearsal.

Frictionlessbass said...

I suppose all languages can't be as up to date as Danish. It's not racism, we're just better than everybody else.