Sunday, 17 October 2010

Planet of the Arseholes (Part the First)

If you've followed this blog for a while, you'll know I have a pretty big problem with the kyriarchy. I hate pretty much anyone in a position of authority which they didn't, and don't, earn. And how do you earn a position of authority? You earn it by ensuring that you're worthy of it. You earn it by showing you deserve it. You earn it by not being an arsehole with your authority. You earn it by being a decent human being.

Of course, being a decent human being seems to be pretty damn hard for a lot of people. Especially those in positions of authority. Most people in these positions can't resist the temptation to abuse them, and in the process prove themselves unworthy of the position they're in. They enjoy the benefits of authority without doing anything to deserve it; they enjoy privilege.

The latest privileged idiot to prove himself unworthy of the authority invested in him by his money and the adulation of a society of idiots is one Duncan Bannatyne. If you live in the UK, you will have been painfully aware of this smug, ugly, pathetic, self-publicising little man for far too long. Bannatyne runs a chain of overpriced health clubs catering to pathetic narcissists, and has a second 'job' appearing on the charmless and deeply naff BBC TV programme 'Dragons' Den' in which he and a trio of similarly miserable-looking twits in suits sit in judgement on ordinary men and women who have came up with inventions for which they seek funding. It's a kind of variant of the X-Factor/Britain's Got Talent format, only the judges have even less charisma than Piers Morgan, which is some achievement. The whole programme is narrated in tones of breathless adoration for the dragons' bulging bank balances by Evan Davis, a man who used to be a serious business journalist before he became an ego-fluffer for these corporate idiots.

You can probably tell it's a show of which I'm not a fan. That's because I get sick of the pathetic, sycophantic adoration our society bestows on so-called 'entrepreneurs'. So they've made a pile of money in business? So what? We should adore them for being more successful at exploiting the labour of their staff than people who've made less? Stuff that. The usual defence offered by the grunting, forelock-tugging idiots who do adore these people is that they've 'came from nothing' and 'made something of themselves', to which I say: if you believe that, I have a lovely bridge I can sell you at an absolute song. Most 'self-made' men are anything but: they owe their positions to an invisible network of privileges which people never take into account. For one thing, they usually are men; they're always cis, they tend to be straight (and most of the few who are gay tend to be gay men); they're able-bodied and usually don't suffer mental illness (or if they do they don't talk about it); most of them are caucasian; and they all tend to have the sort of swaggering, cocksure, one-of-the-boys confidence which business culture - mistakenly, as I've pointed out before - regards as a prerequisite for success. Show me any self-made man and I'll show you a list of ways as long as your arm in which kyriarchy and privilege helped the lucky bastard get to where he is.

Now, some people in positions of authority are self-aware enough to be conscious of this on some level, are self-deprecating and even humble about it, and try to behave with a bit of class towards people who haven't had their luck. Not so Bannatyne. This Friday, a young woman made an innocent joke about Bannatyne on Twitter, and Bannatyne's reaction was to threaten to sue her, then unleash his legion of moronic fans, some of whom called her such delightful things as 'blonde slag cunt' and threatened to kill her. More details of the event can be seen here.

Bannatyne's attempts to position himself as a 'victim' of 'bullies and haters' are laughable: here is a man who has vast reserves of wealth, who is adored by millions (millions of idiots admittedly, but those idiots have disposable income), and who has a variety of media platforms in which his every brainfart is treated as if it's an outpouring of genius, threatening to use his wealth and the courts to silence someone for making a joke - then refusing to intervene when his acolytes begin a hate campaign against the woman he's persecuting? Bitch, please. The victim here is the woman who made the tweet, who has had to put up with vicious abuse and threats all weekend, while Bannatyne sheds crocodile tears about 'protecting my family' while pleasuring himself in front of the mirror with yet another ivory-handled backscratcher.

A lot of people say that deference is no longer a feature of British culture. When they say this, they're referring to the culture of deferring to authority figures from the old-fashioned upper classes who reached their simultaneous zenith and nadir with the likes of Sir Alec Douglas-Home. But many privileged people in society still expect deference as a right from those they see as 'below' them. I've seen this close-up when I've dared to criticise the transphobia of privileged cis people, and we saw exactly the same type of behaviour from Bannatyne this Friday and, indeed, over the course of the weekend. These people are happy to tell the less-privileged that they just have to buck up their ideas, knuckle down and take it - sometimes with horrific consequences, as Ian Birrell pointed out in yesterday's Guardian - but as soon as you challenge them, it suddenly becomes the most important thing in the world that they have been offended, and how dare you say such a thing to them - just as Bannatyne was blind to the offensive and intimidating way he blundered into his exchange with the woman on Twitter, and yet was hypersensitive to the offence this had caused him and which he imagined it might possibly cause his family.

This kind of behaviour, of course, creates a climate in which people feel afraid to make jokes because they are afraid it might offend people. And weirdly, Duncan Bannatyne was keen to say this was a Very Bad Thing in the context of the Equality Act (and my bringing this up should in no way be construed as support for that act - as I've pointed out before, its effect on trans people is likely to be very negative): and yet as soon as he's on the receiving end of a little light-hearted banter, he threatens to take the person responsible for court. And why? Because the Equality Act (generally) protects people who lack privilege; and in Bannatyne's moral universe it ought to be okay to joke about such people. But joking about people with privilege? In Bannatyne's universe, that's unthinkable - as Karl Webster at The Ugly Truth points out hilariously.

In summary: Duncan Bannatyne is an arsehole and has proved himself comprehensively to be an arsehole, and a load of even more pathetic arseholes who worship Bannatyne proved themselves to be arseholes as well. Fortunately, the internet makes it more and more easy to point at and mock these people for the arseholes that they are. And by crikey do they hate it. But they're just going to have to toughen up and take their lumps - because if they really earned their authority, they wouldn't be in this situation.

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