He who should not be named (an “Outrage” supplement)

OK here’s something that I’ve been trying to figure out recently. People like ***** ******, ***** *******, and most of all ****** ***** have a disproportionate effect on the world. So naturally we want to talk about them, both as artists and users of social media. The problem that we immediately have is that – in the words of John Oliver – every time we mention their names they have a shattering orgasm.

Even people like ***** *; someone who you may not have ever heard anything nice about but have probably seen an article or two about things that they’ve said, absolutely love it when we talk about them even when we’re slagging them off. It’s very similar to *****’s other favourite pastime of bathing in bull semen – it looks terrible from the outside, but is the source of all their testosterone fuelled power.

“Just stop talking about them” doesn’t seem right as a rallying cry. It comes across as being about as engaged as a teenage sloth being given pension advice. No, this is not a call for apathy. But with ****** ***** looming in the shadows like Candyman, waiting for us to say his name five times so that he can stab us in the back with his tiny hook hand, what do we do next?

Well I’m going to put forward 3 possible solutions which might address the problem.

1: Start talking about what you want, not who you hate

I think of anger as a symptom that tells us something is wrong. Kind of like a rash. Unfortunately, like with a rash, doing the thing that feels the best often makes the situation worse. In fact when you’re faced with people like ***** ******* who have built entire careers out of pushing our buttons, raw anger is probably the least productive tool to fight back.

So what do you do when you’ve got a rash? You find out what’s causing it and try to fix that. In terms of this conversation that means bypassing the ***** *******’ of this world, and addressing the thing that you actually want to happen. Working toward something a little bit more positive.

2: Pull back the curtain on the crazy old man

Remember earlier when I likened ****** ***** to Candyman? That was pretty good wasn’t it? Let’s take a moment to interrogate that. When talking about himself Candyman famously said “I am the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom. Without these things I am nothing.” Which wins double points from me for being super creepy and the perfect way to explain ****** *****. You see Candyman is a legend, so he only lives as long as people are telling his story. If everyone stops then he ceases to exist, and that is why he must continually do terrible things. ****** on the other hand is not fighting for existence, but relevance. Every time someone talks about ******, either for or against, they add to one thing. “The Conversation”. By staying fundamental to “The Conversation” ****** has also become the subject of every publication and broadcast that is clamouring for relevance to “The Conversation”. That is why people like ******, *****, *****, and ***** court your disapproval. Because it helps them.

Your job is to reveal this mechanism through, poetry, art, long winded blogs, haikus, limericks, slightly uncomfortable theatre performances, jokes, tweets, songs, comics, pub conversations, romantic notes, snapchats, vines, graffiti, texts, and whatever other means of communication you have. Maybe if we reveal the dorky hot air balloon enthusiast pulling levers behind a curtain to enough people, everyone will be less likely to be duped by the big floating head.

3: If you really have to talk about them – make them seem silly

OK, given that I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I still reflexively go for the “share” button when I’m shown something I don’t like online. It’s probably worth coming up with a way that we can talk about them without necessarily helping them. My solution, unfortunately, takes a bit more effort but is ultimately rewarding. You see, our expressions of anger say that we take these people seriously. So to combat that we need to show that we don’t.

Where this gets really tricky is that our humour has to be universal. It has to stretch beyond the bubble of people that are on “our side” of the political spectrum, and be something that we can all laugh at together. We need to not let these people be as divisive as they want to be and make them as unifying, harmless and inconsequential as a fart joke.

Think about this; a fart joke has never been invited onto Question Time to talk about current affairs, being given equal standing as people who really know what they’re talking about. ***** ******* has.

Right, that’s enough from me.

If you are interested in any of this, Nat and I will be showing a preview  of the show that has emerged from some of these thoughts on 22 November 2016, at Jackson’s Lane in London. It’s called Outrage and we’d love to know what you think.


For more details of the show follow this link:

Outrage at Jackson’s Lane