Monday, March 03, 2008

Dammit you lefties, why!!! do you hate the working class so fucking much?!?!?!?

Yes, it's "Clothes for Chaps" again, though not mentioning his granny this time, thank God. But you fucking middle class lefties, really, you all ought to be ashamed of yourselves! Portraying the working class as hopeless and awful and racists and all that![1] I saw this documentary about Enoch Powell on the telly - that's the sort of vision of the white working class we ought to be presenting ... sorry, lost my thread a bit. What the chuff is he on about?

(bonus whining from Anthony in the comments section as usual. We really aren't taking him seriously enough, he thinks).

[1] A purist might suggest that not everyone works in the media industry, but I'm sure that, for example, chartered accountants and middle managers in steel fabrication companies are also out there stereotyping the white working class in their own subtle ways. Or at least, they are if they're liberals.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor proletarian masses, faced with the bleak choice of vegetarianism or chowing down on pigs' ears.

Marc Mulholland.

3/03/2008 03:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"In these tolerant days, the one underprivileged group that it's OK to find intolerable is the white working class"

From reading the Sun, the Mail, the Express, listening to Talk Radio and reading Decent weblogs, I got the impression quite a few people thought it was OK to find the Muslims intolerable.

3/03/2008 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

he actually writes:

Now let's imagine that the BBC made a series on the sense of siege that Muslims felt living in contemporary Britain. And in the season's single drama every Muslim was portrayed as uncouth, racist and violent, and every non-Muslim as peaceful, wise and tolerant, and that the Muslim's salvation lay in adopting the ways of the non-Muslims

they did make that series; I think it was called "A Party Political Broadcast On Behalf Of The Labour Party".

3/03/2008 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Do you think the fact there are less positive TV programmes about the 'white working class' has to do with the fact that it's about 1/5th the size it was in 1960?

3/03/2008 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous mastershake said...

i find it very odd that he thinks that the people who were guilty of racism in the Jade Goody row last year were actually the media commentators and not... the white working-class people in the programme who called an indian 'poppadom'. Equally odd is the fact that he manages to say this in the very same article:

the benign sanctuary of that well-known religion of female liberation: Islam.

So it's ok to call all muslims misogynists, but dammit, those white working classes get a hard time of it from the press don't they!

also this bears the true hallmark of the 'Decent plain speaker': having to add another confusing, poorly-thought-through paragraph to the comments because your own woeful prose has been 'misinterpreted'...

also bonus points for the completely unsubstantiated claim that 'Back in the Sixties, there was a nobility to the working class'. Er, was there? I seem to remember Enoch's speehc being based on the racist testimony of a member of the exact same class...

3/03/2008 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

A shambles of an article from Anthony, who seemed to have got his brain in a twozzle because there were some sympathetic Muslims depicted on tele.

Personally I think the "white working class" are under siege because they've had thirty years of being told by both main political parties that they have no place in their idea of society, that their poverty was their own fault, and they should get off benefits and their arses. While manufacturing jobs closed everywhere and the loadsamoneys in the City are doing quite nicely thank you.

Oh, and small things like marginal tax rates, sink estates, sink schools ...

Anthony has a lot to get angry about, but blaming the "liberal" media is just pathetic, even if it were accurate, which it isn't.

3/03/2008 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's one of those arguments (like most of Anthony's) which you can't really get to grips with becuase it's impressionistic where it's not entirely irrational. Still - are there, in fact, fewer programmes than before that offer a positive image of white working-class people? Does he think TV programmes a generation ago were entirely made by people like Jim Allen and Ken Loach? And does he think that people who made such programmes combined them with endless whining about non-white people and the middle class?

One reason they didn't, incidentally, is that they could distinguish between politics, on the one hand, and resentment, on the other.

But that's the problem with resentment, y'see, it's irrational, and afraid, and you can't argue with it.

By the way, if you want to see cultural works that criticise and caricature the white working-class, I'd direct your attention to Till Death do Us Part and The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists. Speight? Tressell? Wankers.

3/03/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Well, I was going to cite both 'EastEnders' and 'Coronation St' as 'white working class' television, but I see that AA has a dig at the former. Now, I'm going to assume the following 1) the Sun is a working class paper; 2) its editors know their readers and aim to please them, because the object of the paper is to make as much money as possible for all concerned. The Sun (on the rare occasions I see it) is still fascinated by EastEnders. I therefore deduce it holds some interest for members of the white working class. But Clothes for Chaps sneers at it. Is he missing something or am I?

There's something to be said for keeping 'illiterate chavs' off tv. Watching stupid people is almost always an exercise in Schadenfreude which sullies the viewer too. Enjoying the humiliation of others is dehumanizing. If AA wants the working class to be portrayed as couth, then he should accept that C4 needs to filter their applicants. Anyway, I didn't realise 'chav' was short for 'white'.

3/03/2008 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Teabag said...

What an awful article. One middle class lefty smashing other middle class lefties over the head with a working class cudgel.

3/03/2008 09:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

There's something to be said for keeping 'illiterate chavs' off tv.

Um... I think the point was that calling people 'illiterate chavs' in the first place is demeaning and offensive. And I'm not at all persuaded that 'illiterate chavs' is a critique of those chavs who are illiterate on the grounds of their illiteracy, any more than the phrase 'smelly Mick' is a critique of those Irish people who happen to smell.

But the basic premise of the piece is hopeless, as Larry says - I say you chaps! Some of those working-class people are actually jolly good sorts! (On the other hand, it worked for Orwell...)

3/03/2008 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

Still - are there, in fact, fewer programmes than before that offer a positive image of white working-class people?

the answer to this question would very much depend on whether one would consider that eg. Bernard Manning's appearances on "The Comedians" constituted a positive image. I have no really strong intuition as to whether Andrew Anthony would answer yea or nay to that one.

3/03/2008 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse said...

The first paragraph of AA's article is on the ball. It just goes downhill from there.

As soon as he starts claiming the "one underprivileged group it's ok to find intolerable..." he wanders off into idiocy, as any observer of the press can witness common islamophobic attitudes and assumptions throughout the press.

As for presentations of the "white working class" - the mere utterance of this phrase signals a discussion of racism, immigration and the BNP, and never, NEVER signifies a discussion about the working class.

When people want to discuss general class issues in a wet liberal vein, they talk about "ordinary people", "decent working families", "the great British public and so on".

3/03/2008 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Charlie Pottins said...

What is the "white working class"? Is it subdivided into the ginger headed working class etc, or by height, girth, or what?
In South Africa there was a white working class as distinct from black, coloured, and so on, because the state was run that way and determined people's lives, but in Britain and the rest of the world generally there is only one working class, exploited by the capitalist class.
I'm not saying people don't have religious, cultural even regional variations, or that these have no significance, but class is a socio-economic category defined by relationship to capital (chiefly not having any). Only a lot of your media people and denizens of the bullshit industry get confused over this, because they look at people as consumers and deal in stereotypes. At one time I was told it was de rigur for some actress out of RADA
playing a working class housewife to have a headscarf (non-hijab style) over her curlers and a fag dangling from
her dropping ash over the dishes.
It was a new development when some playwrights and novelists started presenting working class characters and even Northerners would you believe as having their own lives and personalities. (e.g.This Sporting Life, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning etc) But then you go on to the directly political. Jim Allen was a working miner and political activist, editing a rank and file miner's paper, long before he
moved into writing professionally, by way of Coronation Street. But then a period of work by Jim Allen, Loach, Roy Battersby et al - often mixing real workers with actors - was followed by a drive to get them out.
A word on Speight and
Tressel. Tressel, real name Robert Noonan, was an Irish
painter working in Hastings. He wrote with humour and sadness about workers
in the building trade
in a small south coast town, who were oppressed by the bosses and yet did not immediately take to the hero's disturbing socialist ideas. (he also referred to the local council as "the Forty Thieves") What's wrong with that? Would you have them all heroic giants of socialist realism only waiting the call to rise up? In Hastings?! I'm sure he was writing from experience, and BTW when I worked in Sussex (conditions had not changed much!) I only had to produce The RTP at lunch-break for people to whoop with recognition. Much later when it was televised I remember all the enthusiastic
talk the next day at work - this was in London- if only about the poor lad struggling with a heavy handcart on a hill. Workers could recognise the situations.
s regards Speight, of course he produced caricatures -it was a comedy programme remember? But the character of Alf Garnett was funny because he did not see himself as part of an oppressed working class, white or otherwise, but was all for Queen and country and looking down on his son in law the "Scouse get"
who was a socialist.
The only trouble was perhaps that Warren Mitchell actually brought some warmth and sympathy to the character. But this was a comedy programme, not a documentary nor a piece of agitprop street theatre, and
the humour was not at the expense of "the working class" but
of particular characters - recognisable enough
as "types" but not representing the entire working class, by any means, thank you.

3/04/2008 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Ah, Charlie, you did get the point I was making?

3/04/2008 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

I think Charlie is roughly on the money here, and it is an interesting, and worrying, development in Decency.

Given their explicit programme, you'd think that the Decents would be emphasising class as the salient dimension of social stratification for British politics. Ok, there's the liberal commitment too, but class-trumps-ethnicity and citizenship-trumps-ethicity have a good deal in common. But no, instead we have this sudden emphasis on whiteness, "culture" and ethnicity.

God knows where this is going. I expect to see more on these lines from Nick and Anthony and a good bit of resistance from Aaro.

3/04/2008 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Well, Enoch always wore really nice suits. Superfine worsted. Hankie neatly folded in the top pocket.

3/04/2008 11:30:00 AM  

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