It wasn’t so long ago that bearded British scientist Matt Taylor, who was involved in a mission to land a probe on a comet, had his reputation steam-hammered into the ground thanks to the shirt he was seen wearing in the videos and pictures released from launch control. It was a colourful shirt emblazoned with artsy, cartoonish images of naked and semi-naked women, the sort of attire beloved by big, bespectacled men in IT departments the world over. People went ape-shit. Nobody cared that this man was helping to push the boundaries of human knowledge through the exploration of celestial bodies hundreds of thousands of miles beyond earth’s orbit; they cared that his shirt, when viewed through the Hubble telescopes of their eyes, appeared to be beaming back images from the 1950s. He was hounded on Twitter. ‘You meteor-shite!’ they snarled. ‘You Star Wars wanker, you mother-hating space rapist!’ (All of those tweets were from me, incidentally) Inevitably, he was forced to appear on television weeping with contrition like some errant child, each individual tear-drop containing a micro-world of apologies for everything from the extinction of the dinosaurs to Citizen Khan being recommissioned.
If that’s the world in which we’re living and evidence of the stern standards we wish to uphold, then fine: let that big bastard’s tears fall from his eyes and form a gushing river of change that will sweep our culture’s misogyny out to sea. As long as the rules are consistent, and punishment for dissent is meted out in parcels of equal size, then I don’t have a problem with that. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Before I expand on that, an admission. I’m rather out of touch with the zeitgeist. At home, I only watch TV shows that I’ve specifically sought out on the back of recommendations or internet buzz. I don’t do live TV, so I don’t do soaps, reality TV, talent shows or chat shows. My current in-car CD collection comprises the hits of Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and Johnny Cash. When I’m not listening to golden oldies, Radio 4 is my station of choice. Whenever I venture from my middle-aged comfort zone by scrolling through the other channels, I inevitably catch a blast of contemporary music and find myself moved to the point of murder by the inane, ear-battering mantras besieging my brain (I felt this way even as a teenager – I think some part of me has always been 35). For the same reason, I don’t do music television. (that, and the fact that I’m unhip as fuck) Which is why it came as something of a culture shock to witness a few hours of MTV whilst babysitting at a friend’s house.
That saucy-shirted scientist with whom I kicked off this article was on the brink of being dragged behind a tractor through a field of AIDS-tinged razor blades for his sexually insensitive taste in clobber, and yet most of today’s male music superstars – especially those performing under the urban banner – seem to have built their careers and fortunes upon singing about overpowering, deceiving or manipulating women both socially and sexually.
In one video, a young gentleman decried women for being materialistic whores, whilst wearing a £10,000 watch. In another video, a trio of gentlemen itemised the things they were gong to do to an unspecified woman’s ass with or without her consent, a grimy and depressing little ditty that had the look and feel of a video manifesto for Rape Club (I know, I know, first rule, we shouldn’t talk about it). In yet another video, a sharply-dressed young gentleman with snakes for limbs spent four minutes calling his girlfriend a slut through the medium of song. And yet these guys, far from being derided on Twitter, are celebrated as heroes. It seems that it’s okay to be a retrograde, chauvinistic thug as long as you sing it and don’t put it on a shirt. Plus, singing about pussy is clearly more important to humanity than landing space probes on a moving comet.
Perhaps Matt Taylor could’ve emerged from the whole fiasco with his dignity intact had he gone on TV and, instead of crying like a big bitch, broken out an angry, sexual rap about the probe mission:
‘You see me comin’, girl, uh,
You see me comin’ through the void of space,
Gonna wreck your place,
Gonna land on you and probe you all up in your face,
Gonna read you girl,
Uh, you need me girl,
Gonna do you hard in full view of the human race.’
And instead of wearing the shirt with the naked ladies on it, he could’ve had actual naked ladies on stage with him, who could’ve rubbed their crotches against his leg as he chucked money at them.
While I’m here taking an angry shit on the modern world, from which I’ve been displaced since birth, what in the name of God’s hefty testicle has happened to dancing? It would appear that the best way to wow a club dance floor in 2015 is to dance like a man with an itchy arse having a stroke on the moon. This stinks, primarily because that awkward, twitchy-legged spasm has always been my signature dance move. How cruel for this style to come into fashion only once I’m an antediluvian irrelevance who isn’t even allowed to dance at family weddings for fear of unleashing a tornado of shame and embarrassment.
I once perpetrated some dance-moves on the packed floor of a night-club in Magaluf circa 1998. My style was described as ‘top-half 90s, bottom-half 70s’. If I tried that now the description would remain the same, although the numbers would refer instead to literal ages rather than stylistic decades of the 20th century.
You’re not required to dance to Radio 4. I think that’s why I like it so much.
PS: I wrote this while wearing a polo-shirt with vaginas all over it. You mean pictures of vaginas, right? Em… yes?
Of … course.