Young Rod – in cap, lower middle – enjoys some clean sporting fun with his pater at Millwall, 1935
In a shameless attempt to win some readers for his little known Spectator blog, Rod Liddle has thrown together a desperate post with the highly offensive and almost certainly libellous headline The Politically Correct James Delingpole. It’s about my reaction to Richard Curtis’s ecofascist snuff movie No Pressure, which Rod reckons was overdone.
But there is something which does not quite ring true in his attacks upon a film made by Richard Curtis for the 10:10 climate change movement, exemplified by his piece in this week’s magazine. He has been ranting and raving about this film for ages and I cannot tell if his outrage and lack of humour is real, or post-modern ironic.
It’s puzzling that Rod should be puzzled because I did in fact spell the whole thing out on my You Know It Makes Sense column this week.
So let me explain for those die-hard defenders of ‘No Pressure’ why it wasn’t funny on any level whatsoever. And no, it isn’t because of the exploding children. Not per se. Sure, it’s a risky business, in the age of the suicide bomber, trying to extract comedy out of gruesomely atomised kids. But that doesn’t necessarily put such things beyond the pale. In comedy nothing ought to be beyond the pale, for that is part of its purpose, as the safety valve which allows us to say the unsayable. What matters is its context and its satirical point. Only then are we in a position to judge whether the sketch ‘works’ or whether it has failed horribly.
The reason Curtis’s joke failed horribly, I went on, is because it worked neither as effective satire nor as comedy of observation.
The joke would only work if all reasonable people thought ‘Christ, climate change deniers are a pain. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could just — tee hee — kill ’em rather than have to engage with their tedious, action-delaying arguments?’
What I didn’t mention in the piece for reasons of space, though I think it’s quite an interesting paradox is this: though the original No Pressure video was desperately unfunny, many of the pastiches were funny. The one where children were exploded, for example, for not submitting to the “Religion of Peace” had a readily comprehensible satirical point that Richard Curtis’s did not.
Anyway, of course I wasn’t really offended that Rod chose to embarrass himself by getting things so totally wrong and making everyone hate him and think he’s incredibly stupid and smelly. What I am, though, is disappointed.
Here’s the bit that really disappointed me:
You do not have to agree with Curtis, or 10:10 (though I don’t see what’s wrong with cutting carbon emissions, regardless of whether you sign up to AGW) to find it funny.
Do you see the bit I mean? It’s that trite bit in parenthesis where the normally well-informed, clear-sighted and acerbic Liddle ventures an opinion based on little more than WWF and Greenpeace press hand outs.
If Rod ever took me to a Millwall match – I’m not asking, you understand, this is just a theoretical scenario – I think I’d know better than to declare in a loud, fruity voice that the offside rule was silly, very silly, or that the game would be lot more enjoyable if the players weren’t so infernally competitive and the fans so foul-mouthed, and couldn’t someone teach them to sing the Eton Boating Song instead of all this four letter stuff?
I would expect Rod to show a similar degree of diligence in matters he clearly knows eff-all about, climate change being the most blindingly obvious one. And the same applies, though to a lesser extent, to my blog colleague – and Rod’s old mucker – Andrew Gilligan.
Gilligan has been doing some stormingly good exposes, of late, on the unutterable uselessness of wind farms. But blogging last month he went and ruined an intelligent, well-argued blog with this entirely unnecessary paragraph:
The problem with British greens is not that they’ve misdiagnosed the problem – I’ve very little doubt that climate change is real. Even in the unlikely event that the science is wrong, it’s not a gamble we can afford to take.
And your evidence for that statement is what, exactly, Andrew? Or, to put it another way, how would you feel if I were to write a blog astringently critiquing Lutfur Rahman and suddenly declare, en passant, that I’d walked past the East London Mosque the other day and that its calm, peaceful, delightfully mosquey appearance had left me in “very little doubt” that claims of its extremist tendencies were an outrageous calumny.
The sad thing here is that both Liddle and Gilligan are journalists I very much admire: proper, courageous, counterintuitive journalists who do their research, are never afraid to speak truth to power and write with verve and conviction. One day, I’m sure, they’ll come round to appreciate what many readers of this blog already do – that the Climate Change circus represents possibly the greatest outbreak of mass hysteria in history, that it’s probably the worst pseudoscientific scandal in history and that it’s being used as an excuse to impose on us the biggest bill in history. It’s a story that is worth proper investigation and the sooner the cause of truth and justice has the likes of Liddle and Gilligan fully onside, the better for us all.