In typically offensive fashion, b3ta provided its newsletter subscribers with a racist song this week. It’s kind of funny if horrid and amateurish, which is a good strapline for the b3ta site generally. I drop “funny” into there in the hope that nobody will tell me to lighten up when they read what follows.
I wondered for a while whether it was actually discriminatory, or merely crude and stereotyped. I think its discriminative quality ultimately comes down to the fact that, while it makes fun of a lot of different minorities, it doesn’t actually do it equally, not including the pretty appalling punchline. The premise of the joke is that the world is divided up into various “people of colour”, and then there’s the normal people, who just happen to be white. And, it seems, look like William Hague, but that’s by the by. The normal, white people chair—benignly and impartially—the debates of representatives from (slightly simple) other minorities, each of whom are equally thick and, as the joke goes, either racist or homicidal.
A few months ago, Radcliffe and Maconie were discussing Jim Davidson and Bernard Manning, of all people. Mark Radcliffe was to some extent defending Manning: predominantly, the bastard’s status as a human being. Mark had met him, and felt that there was clearly heart and soul there. That’s as maybe, but there’s no reason why racists can’t also be loving and caring… to those very normal people to whose ranks they belong. Stuart Maconie (I think) countered that the Davidson/Manning defence usually boiled down to “I can’t be racist, because I make jokes about blacks, Chinese, Irishmen, nuns, the lot. I’m even-handed so I’m not discriminating.” But (he continued) comedians like Jim Davidson would never make jokes poking fun at washed-up, wife-beating, complacently privileged, white middle-aged whining arrogant prigs. “Even-handed” in this context means, essentially, “insulting everyone except people like me.”
A good year or two now I went to the Oxford branch of the Jongleurs comedy-club chain. For those who were thinking of spending an evening there in the near future: don’t bother. But what was interesting was that a number of times in the evening the comedians would poke fun at “pikeys”. This was at a time when the pottymouthed comedians had generally, I thought, moved on from discussing pikeys to discussing chavs. But the word chav was simply never mentioned all night. Mind you, if you were a comedian on that stage, looking down at the vast majority of the audience that were getting lagered- and chipped-up in front of your eyes, you’d quickly adjust your notion of what counts as normal too.