TV Breakfast Holocaust by Phil Thornton
Is there any sight more nauseating than the BBC's Breakfast team of presenters as they chew the fat with some invited talking head from sloppy research central on hot topics such as militant Islamic youth? Look at em, this cancerous array of bland Middle English accents, faces and attitudes; the Daily Heil hate sheet made human flesh and served up every morning to poke the eunuchs of Middle Earth into fits of prejudicial apoplexy. What do YOU think about striking catering workers bringing misery to thousands of innocent holidaymakers? Text in YOUR message or simply press the red button and register YOUR impotent rage. This cosy sofa Nuremburg whips up the massed ranks of white collar weasels to almost head exploding levels of anger. Like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, these people seem to be living on the very edge of gun- totin-good- people-pushed-too-far-homicidal rage. Just one more little push from the tabloids or Breakfast telly and they might just y'know...vote BNP!
Like most of the people who bother to write in to Points Of View (have you heard their voices?), these people live in a cultural void; the vapid, featureless, identity free sprawl of Nowheresville UK. They therefore cling desperately to anything that gives their mundane lives some sense of meaning. For many this manifests itself in an exaggerated, malignant patriotism and a romantic (and ultimately fictitious) notion of 'Britishness' and its supposed virtues - y'know the usual bullshit: tolerance, fair-play, a sense of humour and decency. That these people are almost always the least tolerant, fair-minded, humorous or decent people on God's green earth never seems to diminish their sense of self-delusion.
BBC Breakfast people infact. GMTV with its crass mix of dumb celebrity lead features and Chat magazine freak tales, gets a different audience altogether. These people don't vote, they don't spend, they are essentially non-people. The Breakfast brigade, however, these people MATTER. They are the so-called 'silent majority' who never fucking shut up. They are not the ageing array of blue-rinsed bigots that now form the rump of what's left of old school Conservatism, no these are 'consumers,' they are 'tax payers' and 'licence fee payers' and dammit, they've been taken for granted for far too long! They have rights and they have power. They're fed up of their tiny share of GDP being constantly under threat from the massed ranks of evil scroungers and miscreants intent on destroying the very fabric of their non-descript B&Q and Blockbuster lives. Gypsies and junkies, migrants and militants, single mothers and suicide bombers; they want what's mine, what's ours by birth, as Englishmen, as wealth creators, as voters in a 'liberal democracy (whatever the fuck that's supposed to mean). Their tolerance is defined as the ability to withstand the occupancy of this island with people of colour without resorting to burning them in their sleep or trucking them off to be gassed, as less civilised and fair-minded folk would do.
They are Bill Turnbull's maggot offspring still gorging on the rancid corpse of Empire, feeding their polluted guts on Churchill and Wellington and Nelson and Drake and Beckham and Branson and Blair and Bono and Johnny and Tim and plucky little Paula and (sssh black lesbian) Kelly. They sit in the M&S café and swap house prices, they listen to Coldplay CDs on the car stereo, they go to watch Robbie as a couple and dress at Gap and H&M. They are England Fans with England shirts and England flags and they whoop and shout "Coooooome on England!" because to be a patriot in one's own country is the easiest thing in the world. They believe in nothing because they have experienced nothing and so they can't understand anyone who possesses what used to be called 'idealism'.
Theirs is an abstract and sanitised patriotism and it's one that has been largely fostered by the BBC , who's propagandist function has always been (whatever the right wing press say) to uphold the interests of the establishment, because they are part of the system, funded by the system, controlled by and populated by the system. In BBCLand we're all just one big happy Tru-Brit family; Last Night Of The Proms, Trooping The Colour, The Boat Race, The Grand National, Royal Ascot, Wimbledon, the test match (highlights on the news or listen to 5Live)., the FA Cup final, Only Fools & Horses, Dad's Army, the Two Ronnies, Lenny Henry, Have I Got News For You, They Think It's All Over, Question Time, Dimbleby's Portrait Of Britain, Coast, Simon Schama, Jools Holland, Blue Peter, Horse Of The Year Show, Edinburgh Tattoo, State Opening Of Parliament, VE/VJ Day, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50 anniversaries, the Queen's Jubilee, the Queen's birthday, the Queen's minor illnesses, royal birthdays, royal funerals, royal marriages, royal funding (only 61 per day folks - cheaper than a loaf of bread!!).
It's enough to turn anyone into a suicide bomber. Get this suckers, England doesn't exist. It's a made up place, same as every other country. There is no English race just as there is no white race, or black race or any other race. Trace your ancestry back far enough and we're all just a monkey fuck in the jungle. Invent your own rituals if you like and your own religions and customs and laws and flags and live somewhere beyond the hills, over the plain, across the sea. Call it England or Israel or America or Japan or China or India or Iran. John Donne was wrong; every man is an island. Me, I know I probably share this crackpot view of the world with 0.1% of humanity but that suits me fine. You want to get wrapped up in phoney notions of culture and ethnicity? Go visit Auschwitz and see where that gets you.
The young suicide bombers who attacked London believed in another system, another way of life, another state-less state of being altogether. A hundred years a go they would have been called anarchists or communists. You might not agree with their aims or their methods, but you can't deny them their ideology. If the BBC reporters who covered the bombings couldn't grasp or even seek to understand this, then perhaps the problem is with them, more than anyone else. Just as the BBC apologised after 911 when 'uppity Asian/Arab' members of the audience on Question Time tried to put into context the reasons that may have lead the plane hijackers to perform their murderous deeds. It's Israel stooped! No, the state only wants debate on its own terms otherwise it's 'my country right or wrong' and 'treason trial' time.
60 years ago when idealistic young men from across the globe went off to Spain to fight fascist Franco in the International Brigades, they did so because they felt united by a common brotherhood, a shared political cause. They joined up to fight the oppressor, a cabal of tyrants intent of imposing their twisted idea of culture upon others. Young men always want causes to believe in and fight for, which is why suicide bombers, who should be over-60 years of age to qualify, are almost always below the age of 25. They see their martyrdom and the death of 'infidels' as a noble and honourable path to paradise. Whether or not they acted out of a twisted interpretation of the Koran or more non-spiritual political beliefs, they wanted to do their bit for the cause. Like it or not, no-one wakes up one morning and decides, 'think I'll go and blow myself up on the tube for a laugh.'
The likes of Bobby Sands and IRA hunger strikers of the 70s were also prepared to die for their beliefs and were also ridiculed and demonised at the time. Silly boys having their minds twisted by evil men who never risk their own lives for the cause. That was how it was seen and perhaps there's even an element of truth in it. Our school was one long Bobby Sands joke but, when alls said and done, this young man starved himself to death for a free Ireland. The ultimate irony is of course that martyrs never see their dreams realised and Bobby and co would no doubt be appalled to see their sacrifices wasted on some inter-government carve up between Dublin and London. As de Beauvoir put it; 'If you live long enough, you'll see that every victory turns into a defeat'. All causes end in either compromise or capitulation. Old men know this, which is why they don't sign up for Paradise backpacks. Idealism's a young man's game but what we need to recognise is the reasons why people think the way they do and how both government and the media must accept responsibility for shaping the dominant cultural forces that enable society to become polarised, divided and antagonistic.
I'm proud of being a northerner with all the abstract geographical, cultural and political baggage that word entails. It's not a conscious thing really, just a feeling of difference, of otherness to 'southerners.' Humans are tribal animals and if differences between us didn't exist, we'd have to invent them. You follow the reds, I'll follow the blues, you like that music, I'll like this music, you wear those clothes, I'll wear these clothes. Each to their own. Englishness and Britishness isn't something you sign up to. I wouldn't sign up to one of New Labour's preposterous 'Loyalty' oaths so why should anyone else?
My notion of who I am and where I fit into the world around me may be not be shared by anyone at the BBC but then the BBC is a self-perpetuating, closed shop of Oxbridge mediocrity, that engenders a distorted vision of Britain based upon its own bourgeois prejudices. Take their current 'the accent is on Voices' campaign for example. Even when the BBC tries to be inclusive and recognise that there are many and various aspects of Britishness, it still manages to fuck it up by getting getting a bunch of nobs from marketing to put on ridiculous 'regional' accents. It's almost as funny as those Fast Show 'We're Cockneys/Geordies/Yardies' sketches. The same patronising, paternalist attitude that condescendingly states 'and now the news and weather where YOU live.'
Greg Dyke said that the BBC was hideously white but he missed the whole point. It doesn't matter if the BBC becomes less white if its intake still comes from the same social and economic backgrounds. Just because Blue Peter has an Asian and a Geordie presenter doesn't make it any less hideously middle class. Were the BBC responsible for turning five young black and Asian young 'Brits' into suicide bombers? Of course not but lets not pretend that by swallowing the us and them line that all governments follow when they try to squirm out of problems of their own making, makes it any safer for the rest of us. You want context, you want analysis, you want intelligent debate, you want understanding, you want answers? Don't tune in to BBC Breakfast for fuck's sake.