What's in Paisley's Pants? Political ramblings about things that catch my attention... (rather than some smutty double entendre...)

Friday, August 12, 2005

McDonalds advertising

Just saw a new McDonalds advert, proudly boasting that a McDonalds' burger contains 100% beef, and no additives etc. The advert showed the finished burger, then reversed and showed the meat coming out of a mincer, then going into the mincer as chunks, and then finallys topping at the 'start', which was a fresh cut of beef.

I wonder why McDonalds didn't go the whole way and show the actual source of their meat? Maybe they could show the mass deforestation in South America that their cattle production results in? Or maybe they could show the bloody spectacle of a slaughterhouse?

I don't think it's right that people are shown a ready prepared cut of meat as the start product. First of all, they should be shown the indiginous people being eveicted from their land by various cattle racnhers. Then the deforestation should be shown. Then I think the introduction of cattle should be accompanied by an explanation of the damage that intense grazing does to an ecosystem. Then, in whal could be a nice 'personal' touch, we could follow the story of one cow, taken off to be electrocuted and slaughtered - maybe get Tarrentino to guest direct this, with nicely ironic background music. Maybe then we can get on to the factory butchery, before finally getting onto the making of the burger, although not in a hand worked mincer as shown in the current advert, but the big factory jobs that they use. And of course showing all the meat that they put in, not just the presentable bits. Then maybe we could get round to shaping a burger, and freezing it, and exporting it to Britain. But why stop there? We could follow it all the way to the mouth of the child it's fed to, and follow the individual fat molecules (very BBC documentary) as they clog up the veins and arteries of the child.

I wonder why they don't show all that?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The fruitless quest for Britishness

There seems to be a mad search at the moment for ‘Britishness’. It is the concept that all of us reasonable folk subscribe to, and yet the suicide bombers on July 7th did not, despite being British citizens. It is the quality which supposedly should be instilled to all newcomers to the country in citizenship classes. It is the quality which defines us, apart from geographic criteria, as separate from the rest of the world. For some, it is the quality which built the empire; for others, it is that which made Britain swinging in the 60s; for an unfortunate few, it is the image of cool Britannia. Since the revelation that the four suicide bombers on July 7th were all British, there has been a lot of searching, both in the media, on blogs, and in the general public, for the quality of ‘Britishness’ – firstly what it is, and also how it should be ‘taught’ to those coming into the country. The search, however, is futile.

Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian on Wednesday about this very subject. He started off fairly sensibly. Or at least, he quoted someone else saying something sensible. Aatish Taseer, who interviewed second-generation Pakistanis for Prospect magazine said ‘If you denigrate your own culture you face the risk of newer arrivals looking for one elsewhere.’ The second part of this statement is the crucial part, that newer arrivals will look elsewhere for a ‘culture’. It highlights the natural human drive to want to label ourselves, to group ourselves together, to reject individualism and instead form societies, groups and communities. This has been done throughout history, through religion, race, tribal allegiance, nationality and so on. The idea that Taseer proposes is pretty straightforward – young Pakistanis are aligning with their religion over their country (and Britain must be described as ‘their country’, they were after all, born here).

What Freedland proposes is that we take our lead from the Americans, and promote a stronger culture of Britishness, that we push and promote our values so they become more attractive than that of a global religion. In America, Freedland claims, emphasis is placed both on the individual diversity, and also the glue that holds all those individuals together, namely the patriotic ideal of ‘America’.

This is all well and good, but Freedland offers no suggestion for exactly what the culture of Britishness is that we should be promoting. In fact, nowhere that I have looked has been able to define just what this ‘British culture’ is. Many people have offered up their suggestions – as I said at the start, they range from imperialistic to New Labour blandness – but no one has been able to give a clear and unambiguous, and most importantly universal, definition of what Britishness is. The reason, I propose, is that there simply isn’t one. The idea of a national characteristic is a fallacy; a creation by those who want to group themselves together by something other than geography.

Take America for example. Here, nothing is possible if it is ‘un-American’. Political debate rages over the issue of whether something is ‘American’ or not, rather than any issue. But ‘American’ is a hollow concept, as explored by countless writers throughout the 20th century, such as Miller and Steinbeck. If ‘American’ is to subscribe to the core ideal of the American dream, which I would argue it is, then it has been shown time and time again to be a fallacy, a construction to pacify and mollify.

And now in Britain, people are trying to find something similar, a glue to hold together all the disparate people in Britain. They search for that British ideal that we can all subscribe to, to unite us. But they are looking for something which simply doesn’t exist. The ideal of Britishness is as hollow as the American Dream: how can anything unite a well off middle class family in the Home Counties with a single mother living in some council estate in any city? How can the lives of pupils in a boarding school be correlated with the lives of pupils in an inner-city comprehensive, where they must be scanned with metal detectors each morning? The ideas of what Britain is, and what Britain can do for them will be drastically different for each group of people. There is simply no way that a concept can be found, in terms of nationality, that can unite these people.

That is where religion enters the frame. In religious belief, at least under monotheistic religions, all believers are equal in the eyes of God. Religion provides one single, absolute teaching. It provides one single, absolute concept to unite all believers, that is, God. The reason people turn to religion over their country, as Freedland laments, is that religion can offer the sort of certainty and absolute unifying concepts that a nation, or Britain at least, entirely lacks. In the past, it could be argued that the monarchy provided this, or even possibly the concept of the Empire. These two institutions are both dead, and with them, any uniting qualities they may have had.

The idea of Britishness will always be an opinion – it is red telephone boxes, or village cricket, or ‘Jerusalem’, or a football team, or going out and getting pissed on alcopops on a Saturday night, or package holidays in the Costas. It will also remain the rhetoric of right-wingers. The response to the July 7th bombers is not to be found in a futile search for a non-existent concept.

Friday, August 05, 2005

"This is America today. A land of degenerates! Is it any wonder that the rest of the world has started to despise them? What kind of... probity can we expect from a nation which conducts itself in such a way? This is a country that professes one thing and then does the opposite - but in full view of everybody! It preaches religion and morality but then its women bahave like whores. It forces other countries to disarm but the it spends all of its money building up the most terrifying arsenal of nuclear and conventional weapons on the planet. It spits in the face of the Muslim world and stampedes through the Middle East in its thirst for the oil to fill its petrol-guzzling cars and then it professes astonishment that a man like Osama Bin Laden can exist and believe what he believes."

(spoken by Munir in The Closed Circle by Jonathan Coe)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"It’s Political Correctness Gone Mad! An Opinion" by Captain Sir Arthur T. Fortesque (ret.)

[It is with great pleasure that Paisley's Pants opens up it's pages to other commentators, hopefully to provide a more broad range to you, our dear readers. The first, is Captain Sir Arthur T. Fortesque (ret.), who will comment sporadically on these pages for the coming few months at least.]

Not a week ago, I was in Mr Smith’s, in my humble opinion the finest butcher in Lower Oldhamhall. I do enjoy a once weekly trip into the village, the walk is most pleasant in the morning, and one can work up quite an appetite for Mrs King’s mid-morning tea. After purchasing my usual meats, I saw that Mr Smith had liver for sale. I, being naturally light-hearted in nature, made a comment that I hadn’t had a good faggot for a while. Mr Smith replied that it was hard to come by a good faggot these days, what with all these queers about! Oh how we laughed! But then, to my astonishment, another customer in the shop took umbrage at Mr Smith’s remark, and told him, no less, that the correct term was a homosexual, and that he found the term ‘Queer’ offensive! I was taken aback on two counts here: firstly, that the parish council are so lax as to let these nancy, Guardian reading types into the village; and secondly at the sheer audacity of the aforementioned nancy Guardian reader to challenge Mr Smith on his choice of word to describe these degenerates! It is, as the title of this piece suggests, ‘Political Correctness Gone Mad’. I subtitled this piece ‘An Opinion’ cautiously. I’m sure in Blair’s Britain that it’s actually rather frowned upon to hold one.

But where does this culture of political correctness come from? It stems from three things: women, children, and homosexuals.

In the 1960s, I was an officer in Her Majesty’s Army, posted away from England for long periods, and unaware of changes afoot in dear old Blighty. Perhaps if I had been aware of what was going on, maybe I would have been more anxious to come home, rather than defend Her Majesty’s Empire. Obviously the real threat came not from those damned Indian’s wanting independence, but from our very own women. No longer were they sweet, doe eyed dears, waiting back home for their husband’s return; having dinner prepared on the table for when he walks in through the door after a hard day in the city, doing a job far too complex for her fragile little mind, which is more suited to flower arranging. No, suddenly, British women were cutting their hair short, burning their bras and demanding equal rights. The damned cheek of it! After all men had done for them, earning money, keeping them in the style they had become accustomed to – the latest kitchen utensils, needlecraft kits, flower arranging periodicals – after all this, women were just throwing back in our faces! They wanted the opportunity to apply for top jobs, they wanted equal pay, they wanted maternity leave! Surely this last point highlights the difference between men and women the most – women are designed for childbearing, men are designed for hunting. And women, having smaller brains, simply cannot cope with the demands of high-powered jobs. Men gave these concessions. But were women happy? Oh no, now they wanted to change men’s attitudes towards them – they were no longer ‘birds’; one could no longer touch their bottoms in the workplace, no matter how pert; one had to include them in meetings, and at least pretend to note down ideas that they had. But, were women happy? No! They still expected men to give up their seats on a bus or train. It was a disgrace to the good name of this country.

My second point – children. I had a happy, wholesome childhood. Nanny suckled me until I was three, at which point I was sent to prep school in Weston-Super-Mare, and then onto Eton. I remained at boarding school until I was eighteen, at which point I entered the army, training as an officer. My childhood was one of conkers and cricket, of caning and Cartwright, the sadistic Latin Master. I knew not the evils of pop music, of drugs, of sexual intercourse. The children of today are a mess. I know not of one child who is not drugged up to her eyeballs on heroin while she is made pregnant by some oik called Wayne, who more than likely is the product of his own sister. What is more, institutions such as manners and grammar seem to have been lost to an incessant wave of sex and violence on television. Children can no longer amuse themselves without getting pregnant, high or arrested. What happened to the good old conker? And marbles? I know not of one child who has been arrested playing marbles (Stinker came close when a master caught him playing after lights out – gosh he really got such a thrashing. Couldn’t sit down for a week). What is needed with today’s youth is corporal punishment! A good thrashing with the cane never hurt anyone! But what do we have instead? A society which mollycoddles, and nurses children. Take it from me, the Empire was not built by Social Services workers, but by the cricket, caning and good honest buggery of a boarding school education.

Finally, homosexuals. Some have the audacity to suggest that the Empire itself was built by homosexuals, it being inbred in anyone who received a boarding school education. Well let me reply to them that there is a world of difference between the friendly buggery between prefect and boy at school and the debauched world of disease and sleaze that degenerates inhabit. Am I the only one in this green and pleasant land that is shocked at the increase in homosexuals on television, and the subsequent increase of retardation in the young? Look at the television schedules for tonight (which is a Saturday). There are ‘Ant’ and ‘Dec’ presenting some dross where a member of the working class could win a dishwasher; countless footballers poncing around on Match of the Day; and finally a talent show where the winner is openly gay. Now tell me that all this degeneracy is not having an effect on our young population. I myself witnessed a single mother (I shall not pass comment) dressing her son in a pair of pink sports trousers. I confronted the lady, who informed me that her daughter in fact liked the colour pink. I replied that if that was a girl, why was she wearing trousers, and not a pretty pleated skirt like girls were supposed to. I did not understand the reply that I received, as the lady quite failed to enunciate properly, but needless to say, it was not pleasant.

So, here we have the three root causes of political correctness. But why must we do something about them? Well my dear readers, we must act now to maintain decency and standards in this glorious land of ours. It is a sad day when I can no longer go to my local butcher and use the word ‘queer’. It is a sad day when, after being attacked by a terrorist organisation, we cannot say 'Death to all rag-head scum’, and instead must settle for the ineffective ‘Unpleasantness to anyone who had something to do with this, but only after they have been given a fair and honest trial by a foreigner’.

It is a sad day, readers, when I cannot touch the bottom of a lady who catches my eye without being reprimanded. Unfortunately for us, readers, we may have to endure this for some while longer: while Tony Blair’s Labour government is in power, we will continue to have homosexuals (Peter Mandelson) and women (Charles Clarke) thrust upon us in politics, and we will have a government which will continue to fail to ban the working classes from having children. It is time for change, and I urge you all to join me in calling for it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A warning to those organising the forthcoming World Athletics Championships

Don't allow any british policeman. All those foreigners, running as quickly as possible, some of them hurdling over obstacles? You're just asking for trouble...

I'm back...

Limbs all in place, sans denghue fever (to the best of my knowledge), countless plastic models of Angkor Wat in handluggage...

It seems like I didn't really miss anything - bombings, police shooting those damned foreigners, racist attacks - business as usual then...