Middle Class White Man In Brain Explosion Confusion Shocker

Last night Channel 4 covered the opening ceremony of the Paralympics. I started watching it but couldn’t get into it. I’m probably a monster for saying this aren’t I?

In my defence your politically correct honour, I was looking after my children while it was on, at their house. K was a little unsettled so I had to go up and see her a few times. This was the reason why I couldn’t get into it. It’s not because I thought it was shit.

The ceremony included a cover version of a song by Ian Dury and The Blockheads called ‘Spasticus Autisticus’ – a song which I’ve loved for years – but one which when it appeared confused and delighted people on my Twitter timeline in equal measure.

The song contains the term ‘spastic’ which, surely, we don’t say anymore do we? In such politically correct times.

The song was written in 1981 as a sort of punky funky ‘fuck you’ to patronising attitudes to the disabled. Dury himself was disabled from polio and the song was a war cry, a poke in the ribs for people to change their attitudes. It was provocative and the BBC limited its airplay, purely because the term spastic was becoming a derogatory term.

I’ve loved this song for many years, for the reasons described above, but people have criticised me for this. Saying that the term is disgusting and shouldn’t be used. Actually pulling a ‘oh fuck you disgust me’ face when I’ve said I’ve been listening to it on my generic MP3 player.

The same people who pull this face are those who’ve danced to the song ‘Fuck You’ by Cee-Lo Green which contains the line ‘Just goes to show nigger, she’s just a gold digger.’ Surely ‘nigger’ is also a term we shouldn’t use in such politically correct times. But this is okay because… erm? Why?

These are the same people who’ve put on ’99 Problems’ by Jay-Z, which talks about having ninety-nine problems, and I don’t think he means problems with his ice cream/cone/flake combo,with a bitch not being one of them. I think it’s safe to say that he’s not talking about a female dog, but a woman of the lady type. But surely describing a woman as a bitch is also wrong?

Now I’m confuseded.

The same people who use the term ‘that’s just so gay’ when describing something that’s not to their liking. In fact the same people who piss themselves laughing at ‘The Inbetweeners,’ which frequently uses the term ‘gay’ or ‘homo’ as a put down. It also uses the term ‘bumder’ which is a portmanteau beautifully fusing the words “Bummer” and “Bender”. It also uses the term ‘mong’, which again… WE’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE USING! *Blows whistle, calls Politically Correct police*

There were some interesting responses to Orbital’s cover of ‘Spasticus Autisticus’ at the opening ceremony. We’re not used to hearing the term anymore because it was used in a derogatory way. Even The Spastics Society don’t use it anymore.  I suppose it’s all about use, and how words like this are used. In an empowering way, in a ‘taking ownership of the term’ way is better, rather than letting others use the term and fill it with hate or use it in a hateful way. I dunno. I have no answers, and I’m interested in your views.

I was on a tube once and I heard a man talking to his friend. He was an older man, quite posh and he was talking about The Pakis. I leant over and suggested that he changed his term as it was offensive to some. He asked me why? ‘Why is it offensive to say The Pakis? I’m talking about cricket, and we refer to the West Indies as the Windies? The Australian’s as the Aussies? What’s wrong with referring to the Pakistani cricket team as the Pakis?’

As I was getting off that tube an Asian man said to me ‘Mate, my parents are from Pakistan and they use the term ‘Paki’ all the time. I’ve heard it loads of times when people have been talking about cricket. I don’t find it offensive. Well, I do if it’s in spraypaint on a wall followed by the words ‘Go Home.’

What do you think about this? Thoughts and comments are muchos appreciated. I’m sure you’ve probably got much more enlightened opinions than me because, to paraphrase another Ian Dury song, there ain’t half some ‘clever bastards’ out there so I’d love to hear from you.

And thanks for reading.

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14 responses to “Middle Class White Man In Brain Explosion Confusion Shocker

  1. Brilliantly written.
    I don’t have the answers either. If I had to try and get it all out it would look like the above, but more rambling, less eloquent.

    One to add to the list though, I have a moderate mental health problem and I often refer to myself as mental or crazy, and to my other friends with diagnosed problems as the mentals or the crazies. I think this another example of it being ok for people to use the term when they own it, but equally, to be able to choose to take offence when it is use in a derogatory fashion.

    Confusing huh?

    • That’s a good point. I suffer from depression and have referred to myself in similar terms, but never used it in relation to others.
      Thanks for your awesome comment, and for reading.

      • Perhaps I ought to point out that the mentals who I call mentals also refer to themselves as mentals or crazies? Don’t want people going all judgeMENTAL on me now do I?

  2. Great blog. Context & intent is the key. Language is such a complex, fluid, changing thing. I’m not sure that any 1 word can be branded offensive on its own. It all depends of who & how it is used.

    I was once accused of being “white middle class” in a context where it was most definitely supposed to be derogatory. I guess this means I was a victim of racism, except the person saying it was also thoroughly white & middle class. And a complete & utter prat, of course. So is it still racist? I don’t know. I wasn’t offended coz I am white & sort of middle class-ish. But I was definitely uncomfortable with the tone & intent of what was being said.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. Not sure what I think or what I’m trying to say. I’ll taper off here…

  3. I couldn’t get into it either. I dont think theres anything wrong from my end, just that it qasn’t as good…but then that was always a tough ask right?

    Coming from Newham, Stratford/Forest Gate you could say i’m from this Olympics ground zero. It wasn’t a nice place. But it was diverse.

    Having been in that enviroment you learn pretty quick who is using a word, just a word, and who means it. Words can be weapons but only when they are used as such. There is no safe ground, no room you can say a word and it not possibly offfend in my opinion.

    The trick I think is to mean what you say, say what you mean and if any slang or phrase causes offence then you can honestly apolagise and know you meant it.

    Great post and just in case no ones told you…this blog gets better and better with every read.

    • Thanks. I’ll take a look. And I used to hate that sort of thing but I accept that other people have written about similar things and it’s easier to share that way so thanks for putting your link down. 🙂

  4. Another one you missed is the term ‘monging’, presumably from the verb ‘to mong’. It is an affliction of teenagers, particularly boys. It is the onset of a helpless, catatonic state, where the poor creature is unable to lift themselves from their bed for weeks on end. It usually coincides with school holidays and may be accompanied by loss of speech- grunts are all that can be expected. A desire for bright, flashing lights and gunshot or car chase sounds is also common. An x-box is generally prescribed for this. The condition tends to pass when a withdrawal of allowance or car keys is threatened.

    Hilarity over…this term is presumably derived from mongolism, but how many of our kids would know that?

    • I think I mentioned that when I said ‘mong’ in relation to The Inbetweeners, but I didn’t know it meant that too. Another classy term which I hope dies a death.

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