Saturday, July 19, 2008

Class and facebook

I am going to post about class, hopefully people won't get too offended, as it does contain spoilers about Kung Fu Panda.
I am fortunate enough to have friends in a wide variety of class groupings, and obviously this is also the case on facebook. I recently noticed patterns in the profiles of people in different socio economic groups. I know these are generalisations, whenever one points out a pattern there are  people who say 'oh oh , but that's not true, I'm different' - to which I reply, congratulations, you are an anomaly, here - have a sticker. (if you can pronounce an anomaly you may also have a lollipop)
The main difference is middle class =a fairly detailed profile in terms of movies, films books and quotes. Working class = little or nothing about movies etc, a lot of extra applications. Obviously there are exceptions, and class boundaries being the fuzzy things that they are this is inevitable. No profile at all and no applications can mean either.
It think this says a lot about what class now means in our uber-consumptive society. The middle classes are proud of their consumption because it marks out superior status. Liking certain movies or music, the ability to travel are not viewed as class accessories or evidence of economic status, but evidence of a cultured mind, of style and taste. Hence we are eager to display our consumption to others.
The way in which the working classes are derided is through their patterns of consumption, a sneaky way to insult the less fortunate without seeming to be an arsehole.
Thus the BBC tried to suggest that the term Chav was not about class, but how people behave and what they buy (well, um what actually is class if not patterns of behaviour and consumption?) when the fabian society rightly decreed it an insulting term this week.

Yeah people, you are ok, but only if you buy what we buy, and do what do what we tell you.

This becomes complicated because certain things actually are just shit, like the Sun and big action films etc. I don't think it is in any way classist for me to say 'that's rubbish' because ultimately Coronation street, big blockbusters and everything that is targeted at a working class populace is not ultimately created by the working classes. These elements of consumption also do their bit to re-enforce gender roles, racial stereotypes and ultimately keep poor people poor. This happens in a variety of ways, from the high street clothes which are sewn for next to nothing in the developing world,  to the movies that re-enforce individualism and sell unattainable dreams.

An example being Kung Fu panda. I saw this at work the other day. It was a pile of crap- but it didn't need to be. The graphics were stunning, and the concept wasn't completely appaling. Jack Black in panda form gets told that he is the dragon of destiny warrior or something, and has to battle a scary tiger, who the chief master trained and who subsequently turned to evil. So far, so Star Wars. 

(SPOILER coming.. I really don't want to ruin this movie for anybody, Dreamworks have done that themselves...)

In the end Jack Panda trains hard, realises his inner potential and kills the tiger dude. Now it would have been so so much better if Panda character had just used his warmth and compassion to win tiger back into a loving relationship with his adoptive father. If he realised that there was no need to train hard to beat people up as ultimately the human spirit is more important. But no - fat Panda somehow manages to be a Kung Fu god, rather than using what he has ( in this case, humour and cooking ability) to make a difference. Ie poor person could miraculously become rich if only they tried hard enough , rather than realising this not to be the case, and making things better in their own reality. It's also significant that Fat Panda only gets glory by being violent to others, there we go - capitalism is a violent system. Kung Fu Panda proves it.
It was yet another example of the ' fat sloppy white guy gets glory anyway despite the fact that others are in a  better position to succeed' sort of movie, which has the stupid 'anyone can do anything' message. 
A fact which reality shows us just isn't true.  I don't think that is depressing, I think it can be liberating because it is the truth. The people who go from nothing to everything are highly publicised anomolies, and because the population is big enough there are a few of them. They are not the majority - I mean look at the leaders of the political parties - Blair went to Fettes ( the Eton of Scotland ) and Cameron went to the Eton of England. Often this is glossed over ( um Tony and Dave...) and people make themselves seem more 'working' than they are. (isn't that right Bush?)

This is largely to justify their own position, which I think is why people get offended when you start talking about class.  Accepting our own privelage is tough, because life is crappy for everyone at times. It's not that fun to admit that it is generally crappier for some other groups of people.

 I am not sure where this is going, nor do I particularly have an answer.. other then, um 'unite and overthrow capitalism in a somehow non violent fashion'. 
I guess in the day to day not making people feel shit for what they wear or buy, whilst accepting that everyone's consumptive choices are limited and dictated by capitalism itself. Also not being too up ourselves for buying the 'right' things, or defining ourselves by this consumption. I like art, and I like stuff, and obviously Gorky's Zygotic Mynci fans are a superior breed of human. I am pretty bad when it  comes to falling prey to the consumption of coolness (possibly because I am so damn cool).  I think defining ourselves by consumption is one way which capitalism as a system is really very advanced, as it is a way in which we trap ourselves in it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Ok so I have written a poem about my feelings. It is very raw.
 It's called loss. Every word is the very essence of truth.


You're not where you are supposed to be
My head
Without you all is fuzzy
You're nowhere near my bed

We were not together long
You were strong
You made everything clear

In the morning you were gone
I haven't seen you since
I can't really see anything at all without you

I thought I'd learned my lesson
when I stepped on that other pair
I wasn't that drunk
You should be on my desk
Or at least down the side of my bed
When I look there's nothing there

How can a pair of glasses
Disappear in just one night
And why has one whole day passed
Without my specs in sight

I have some contact lenses
Enough to see me through
But if I don't find my glasses
I don't know what I'll do


I have just been in an argument with 3 meathead fucks which made me question my faith in humanity. I also now realise that the BNP threat is not some distant unimaginable possibility. 

We need to be challenging this shit now. 

I try to be funny in this blog - but this will not be a funny post, I am fucking livid. It's the first time I have every seriously stormed out of anywhere, and the only reason I didn't make my political exit sooner was because it was the leaving drinks for a close friend.

It started out with a discussion, with one character who attempted to keep the peace by the usual ' we all have opinions' bullshit.

Anyway yes, me vs 3 BNP voter types. Happy times. The following opinions were expressed in all seriousness:-

* Black people are behind in evolutionary terms
* Imperialism was good, and only happened because white people were more advanced
*  Black Africans are all lazy drunks who can't help themselves which is why they are poor
* Rape is not a women's rights issue, and men are just as vulnerable to rape
* Men rape because they can't help it when they have a hard on, we shouldn't blame them

I'm not going to write any more of what they said. Nor am I going to explain why the above is bullshit as I credit anybody who reads this blog with ownership of at least 1 maybe 2 brain-cells ( I guess I assume you are my friends and I tend to steer clear of racist misogynists wherever possible).

Obviously I got very angry and got into a big row, the other women there who I know don't agree remained quiet, the men with whom the argument was with were actually aggressive and a bit scary, so I don't blame them. They shouted at me for getting angry and  kept throwing (hurling or perhaps slinging) the names of loads of 'scholars' or racist theorists or whatever, as a particularly aggressive form of attack.  Am just so so angry and disappointed in the world, and like, what the fuck.

It was one of those things whereby even though I feel shaken and annoyed, I think it is important to talk about this stuff, even if it does end in a big argument that I have to walk away from. I doubt I will have changed anyone's mind, but it's better than keeping the peace in those situations. It's better than just sitting and making banal small talk, because people actually believe this crap and it might take a lot of energy but Jesus.

In the end I had to just ignore them and talk to my friends and then leave. I know that is a bit like admitting defeat but I was seriously outnumbered and not getting anywhere. Anyway after 5 days with serious lefties this was a reality check on what probably a disturbing number of people actually think.