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Bad, man. Wicked.

28 August 2000
As like many bygone jive-talking sophists, James tells us why bad things are good.

Post-modernism is old hat. We now feel free to scoff at the self-righteous omni-activist, determined to obliterate all unfairness, hunger, repression, and all other bad things. They somehow seem SO last season. Now, before I get hunted down by vile hordes of do-gooders, I quickly state my caveat (like all forward-thinking deliverers of possible unpleasantness, I carry a juicy steak to waylay the hungry pit-bull-rottweiler cross-breed, and give me time to shove my package through the letterslot and escape). Clearly, I do not mean we must tolerate all bad things. Some can, nay - must, be fought against with all the might of the undefeatable legions of justice and morality. There you go, Good Boy. Nice juicy slab of steak. You like that don't you. Now, I must swiftly state my case and depart...

Stop, while I pinch myself to make sure I'm actually awake. Various and convoluted Cartesian arguments aside (such as that I may be dreaming about me pinching myself. Well, if that's all I dream about, I might as well be fucking asleep.), this old-world metaphor is the core of my gist. And what is it about the pinch that reassures us that we are awake? Why, the badness, of course, you fool. Again, I hear a chorus of shouts heralding an end to my tirade chanting, "But what about nightmares, eh, baldie? They're bad, aren't they?" And to them I reply that No, nightmares are not bad. They are good. And please allow me some paragraphs to explain, before breaking down my frail and hastily erected barricades, rending me limb from limb, and discarding my entrails to the seagulls.

Dragging back my flock of analogy to the waking world, I present you with the example of shit TV. This, I am confident, is a universal phenomenon, suffered by (although I will show, enjoyed, if not even profiting) practically all of humanity. By shit, I refer to simple poor quality, low interest television, what the pompous BBC would refer to as being 'dumbed-down'. And yet they do not realise the service they are doing. Imagine, if you will, that all television, all the time, was Olivier's Hamlet. By the second week I for one would have thrown the box out of the window, not able to take another perfectly poised pause, or one more gut-munching conceptualisation of ultimate suffering.

Shit TV has a purpose. And that is to remind us what 'good' is. What would Humpy and Ingrid be, if there were not battalions of Beau and Hopes, Ben and Megs, Terry and Irenes. This does not come as a huge revelation, and nor is it one. Without the rough, there would be no diamonds, only slightly more sparkly bits. No, shit TV has a much deeper role, and please pardon me if I don a sociologist's hat for a part.

No, shit TV, especially of the soap variety, exists to raise our awareness of the 'diamonds' of everyday existence, not just the sparkle of televisual or cinematic genius. Here, I must re-use the example, I'm afraid, of the soap. These, I would split into two types, broadly geographically separate, in my limited experience. First, and most simply, you have the typical British soap. Here, you have a depiction of urban or sub-urban almost-squalor, where people go through their daily lives, riddled with petty jealousies, money problems, and occasional family feuds. Who can not leave their brief sortie de voyeur in Albert Square, and not look around them and feel utterly content with their own, simple, little existence.

More significant is the role of the soaps at the other end of the spectrum, the American glamour soap. Picture the scene: A group of Brazilian single mothers, collectively grieving the loss of another teen son to the rampant gang violence, seated on boxes in a friend's living room, watching The Bold and the Beautiful. The initial instinct is that, for that half an hour, punctuated with all-too-frequent mindless and colourful adverts, those grief-stricken mothers are removed from their own terrible existence. But whoever thinks that are only scraping the surface of the importance of this, the badness of it all. The moment the credits roll, each one of those people who watched the images of perfect faces perched on perfect bodies blandly pondering what are immensely complicated love tetrahedrons invariably featuring amnesia caused by a freak submarine accident, each one of those people suddenly re-immersed in reality see everything for what it is, shit coloured brown, gold coloured, well, gold I suppose.

My example is extreme. It would be interesting to see what would happen if South America were suddenly swamped with our glorious commie Brit soaps. Simultaneous uprising, most likely (note to the Party - why have you not tried this yet, comrades?). But the overall point is nevertheless made, bad things are good. "Bad food" inevitably tastes good. Food that parents insist is 'good for you' is always the stuff you avoid like you avoid plague-ridden rats. Once you realise this, you realise it is universal.

The early eighties brown-gold Ford Capri. Pure beauty, you will now realise.

You may wonder what happens now. Well, I'll tell you. When something bad happens in your life, whether it be jamming your fingers in the door, or being stuck for an hour in a traffic jam, you will see, it is not bad, but good. And when you see the Mona Lisa, hear a Clapton solo, or read a Shakespeare sonnet, run like fucking mad.


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
16 October 2003. James writes: Jakesy's School of Urban Driving
24 September 2003. James writes: Chapter One
4 September 2003. James writes: The Silicon Soul
14 August 2003. James writes: A Room With 100 Seats
24 July 2003. James writes: English For Beginners
3 July 2003. James writes: Coldplay are crap. Discuss.
9 June 2003. James writes: It Takes All Sorts
22 May 2003. James writes: Lesson 2: Buying his Gran for a tenner
1 May 2003. James writes: Rosencrantz and Leytonstone
10 April 2003. James writes: Character Building
20 March 2003. James writes: So This Is It. What Are We Going To Do About It?
27 February 2003. James writes: Street Level Zero
6 February 2003. James writes: Reference: James Noteworthy
16 January 2003. James writes: Kissing George Clooney for just £99!
26 December 2002. James writes: Hongkong In Four Tableaux
5 December 2002. James writes: We Are Your Idea
14 November 2002. James writes: The Knight Of Spring Fervent
24 October 2002. James writes: Go On, Be Honest
7 October 2002. James writes: Cold Comfort
12 September 2002. James writes: Peas In A Pod
22 August 2002. James writes: Seed Investment
1 August 2002. James writes: We Are QPR
11 July 2002. James writes: The Road to Ossuna
20 June 2002. James writes: Pret A Teleporter
27 May 2002. James writes: A Play On Words
2 May 2002. James writes: Labour Saving Device
8 April 2002. James writes: Beggaring Belief
14 March 2002. James writes: Small Things
18 February 2002. James writes: Drop Dead Letters
24 January 2002. James writes: High-Rise Rhapsody
27 December 2001. James writes: My drift's too hip to resist.
6 December 2001. James writes: My Lord Has No Nose
12 November 2001. James writes: A Job For Life
18 October 2001. James writes: Which is the cleverest animal?
24 September 2001. James writes: Interview With An Automatum
30 August 2001. James writes: Each To Their Own
6 August 2001. James writes: An Escape, In Sonata Form
12 July 2001. James writes: Truckloads Of Goodies
18 June 2001. James writes: There's No Such Thing As A Coincidence
24 May 2001. James writes: It's All True - The Paper Says So
30 April 2001. James writes: A Letter From Prisyn
16 April 2001. James writes: I Quit
15 March 2001. James writes: An Essay In Procrastination
15 February 2001. James writes: Confessions Of An English Sand-Eater
22 January 2001. James writes: The Future And The Pasta
28 December 2000. James writes: Never drink with men in red
4 December 2000. James writes: The Underground
9 November 2000. James writes: Right answer. Wrong answer
16 October 2000. James writes: The March of Proudfoot: Part I
21 September 2000. James writes: You haven't got a chance
28 August 2000. James writes: Bad, man. Wicked
24 July 2000. James writes: I play games with street lamps

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