Hey, Baby
Dupes and Opium

Reheated (10)

For newcomers, three more items from the archives

Fringe Theatre

Vegan advocate of “militant action” is victim of “militant action” and gets terribly upset.

“The whole thing was designed for social humiliation,” said Keith, speaking Tuesday from her sister’s home in Kansas. “We’re supposed to be against sadism and cruelty and domination, and these people were willing to do this to me.”

Is That Your Hand In My Pocket? 

Playwright Jonathan Holmes thinks he’s radical and heroic. And so you owe him money.

Note how the prospect of reducing coercive taxpayer subsidy is framed rather grandly as “censorship” of artists - and by implication an attack on democracy itself. No other genuine motive could possibly exist. Those who would rather keep a little more of their own earnings and choose for themselves which art forms they indulge are clearly monsters. We’ve heard this pompous guff before of course, as when Hanif Kureishi and the Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington conjured a world in which artistic “dissent” was being “suppressed” by suggestions that artists might actually consider earning a living.

Unlearning Whiteness.

Evidence be damned. Pretentious self-contempt is where it’s at.

Among the teachings on offer are, “racism is an outgrowth of capitalism” and “to ignore race is to be more racist than to acknowledge race. I call it neo-racism.” Ah, very clever. Guilt in all directions. It almost sounds like a trap. And the way to get past small differences in physiology is to continually fixate on small differences in physiology.

There’s more, of course, in the greatest hits.



David, thanks for a much needed morning laugh. Still chuckling at Ms Keith and her radical blowback. Precious.



Happy to oblige. And yes, the lack of self-awareness is almost charming.

What tickled me was the combination of ostentatious radicalism and competitive victimhood. Boasting about vandalism and “militant action” one minute, then squealing about the “trauma” of an unflattering book. What titans they must be.

Karen M

"Note how the prospect of reducing coercive taxpayer subsidy is framed rather grandly as “censorship” of artists"

'Censorship' is the new meme:

"The arguments are so clear, economically, socially, aesthetically, that the only possible reason to reduce the total amount of money available for the arts in this country is censorship."



“to ignore race is to be more racist than to acknowledge race. I call it neo-racism.”

Of course such people are speaking from a biased perspective...for we all have a perspective and an inherent nature of some kind, so to ignore bias is to be more biased than to acknowledge bias. I call it neo-prejudice.



“‘Censorship’ is the new meme.”

And it just happens to be an absurdly flattering one, which may explain its prevalence. It’s interesting to spot the same rhetorical tricks being deployed elsewhere. Like Mr Holmes, the Guardian’s Charlotte Higgins deliberately conflated taxpayer funding for “little fringe venues” and “avant-garde groups” with the entire “creative industries” - which are overwhelmingly commercial in nature and thus at odds with her argument. (An “error,” incidentally, that Samuel West repeats.)


Mr Holmes and his associates claim that the benefits of coercive public subsidy are “a no-brainer” and “so obvious.” But if that’s the case, why should dishonesty like that above be repeated so readily? If there is an “obvious” economic case for such subsidy continuing as before, why resort to rhetorical sleight-of-hand? The apparent distaste for making a clear economic case – i.e. as an investment - suggests an unpleasant sense of entitlement. In his Equity lecture, Samuel West presents what could be the start of an argument for theatre being partly subsidised by film studios and commercial television, but instead he assumes theatre should be subsidised by everyone, regardless of their preferences, which is where it comes unstuck.

I notice Mr West also likes to flatter himself:

“Governments of any colour are rightly frightened of the ability of performers to make a fuss. We can be very loud, with a size and volume hugely bigger than the amount of subsidy it takes to shut us up.”

Run for the hills, the actors are coming.


“Art’s main purpose [is] to ask questions, to challenge, to be a thorn in the side of our established ideas.”


Given the fairly generic political leanings of the arts establishment (as dutifully aired by Mr West), and given the nature and criteria of arts funding and what that implies, I very much doubt certain “established ideas” will be targeted realistically any time soon. Among them, the conceits of the subsidised cultural left and artists who expect to be indulged indefinitely at public expense, regardless of economics and public appetite. The idea that art, specifically theatre, should “challenge the status quo” might be more convincing if its targets were less predictable and its challenges more persuasive. Some people object to subsidising politicised theatre – which tends to mean leftist theatre - because the politics on offer is at odds with their own and, worse, is fatuous. And those who claim that theatre should “discomfort orthodoxy” might want to look at the orthodoxy that prevails closer to home:



"Art’s main purpose [is] to ask questions, to challenge, to be a thorn in the side of our established ideas."

I don't think West really means "our" established ideas. I think he means other people's ideas. The ones who don't vote Labour.

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