November 2, 2018

WHY WE NEED SOME PYTHON SPIRIT: Our absurd cultural climate is ripe for ridicule.

Interestingly, Monty Python have been damned at the exact moment that their jokes have become more topical. Look at those writers and artists that an era claims to have no use for and you often see the people we need the most. Their view is simply the most dangerous to those who tyrannise us. Here is a choice snippet of Python, from Life of Brian:

Judith: Why do you want to be Loretta, Stan?
Stan: I want to have babies.
Reg: You want to have babies?!
Stan: It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.
Reg: But you can’t have babies.
Stan: Don’t you oppress me.
Reg: I’m not oppressing you, Stan – you haven’t got a womb. Where’s the fetus going to gestate? You going to keep it in a box?… What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies, when he can’t have babies?
Francis: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.
Reg: It’s symbolic of his struggle against reality.

One makes no comment on the above extract, except that one can see why Monty Python are so out of fashion.

* * * * * * *

And it’s not just Python who are being written out of history. Recently we were treated to the spectacle of another BBC executive – one Cassian Harrison – claiming that, ‘There’s a mode of programming that involves a presenter, usually white, middle-aged and male, standing on a hill and “telling you like it is”… We all recognise the era of that has passed.’ Thus were the careers and glittering programmes of figures like Kenneth Clark, Clive James, Ludovic Kennedy, Melvyn Bragg and David Attenborough tossed in the dustbin of history.

Harrison – a middle-aged white male, incidentally – was arguably doing a kind of silly walk himself. Is he genuinely concerned about our being patronised by white middle-aged men? Because he seems to feel – as the BBC increasingly seems to – that it is the role of the corporation to patronise and re-educate us. Television – particularly the television of the pre-cable age – is part of our shared national psyche, and revisionist attempts to belittle its heroes should be something the BBC pauses before doing.

Which dovetails well with a one hour and 42 minute segment uploaded to YouTube this past Tuesday of Jordan Peterson being “interrogated” by Helen Lewis of the British edition of GQ magazine. (“Interrogated” is the very word GQ used on the segment’s YouTube page.) Note the contrast in lighting and sound between Lewis and Peterson. Lewis is lit perfectly, and her clean, closely-mic’ed audio sounds like it’s coming from a clip-on lavaliere microphone she’s wearing. Peterson is lit darkly (shades of how CBS’s Don Hewitt shot the 1960 presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon) and his voice sounds like it was recorded by a room microphone some distance away — or perhaps even from Lewis’s lavaliere mic. Either GQ has an incompetent video crew, or they deliberately set up Peterson to sound and look like a baddy — or both. (Right down to the less than flattering screen cap chosen for the clip below.) Peterson makes the usual mincemeat of interviewer’s uber-woke feminist “fight the patriarchy, sisters!” questions — at several times, Peterson reminds Lewis that she’s going deep into the fever swamp of intersectionist conspiracy theories. At the London Spectator, Toby Young has a write-up of the segment and notes:

The most entertaining section of the interview is when he accuses her of illustrating ‘the pathology of ideological possession’. What he means by this is that she’s become a mouthpiece for a particular ideology – she’s just unthinkingly regurgitating the left-wing dogma she’s been taught by postmodern neo-Marxist professors and intellectuals. He says it’s as if he’s talking to an automaton rather than a real person – a non-player character, to use the gaming term.

Heh. Young notes that “The British edition of GQ is 30 years old and, to celebrate its birthday, it is conducting a ‘dissection of masculinity’. I can’t help feeling that’s a bit of a shame – if a men’s magazine won’t celebrate masculinity, who will?”

Indeed. Why would British GQ — whose name is a contraction of its original American title Gentlemen’s Quarterly serve as a platform for a radical feminist interviewer who so hates their core audience of British males? It’s the equivalent of Ebony hiring an anti-black racist or Rolling Stone hiring a reviewer who hates rock music and its fans. To Americanize what Robin Ashenden writes above at Spiked regarding the modern BBC’s disdain for Python, evidently British GQ also believes the role of the corporation is to patronize and re-educate its readers.

Astonishingly, eight months after its publication, Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is still number three on Amazon’s charts.

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