Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Personal Lexicon: The Davidson Effect

Today, the BBC informs me that there is no point in allowing mass immigration because it has little to no positive effect on our economy. I think this is an interesting subject, mainly because there is absolutely no answer that won't make you a) naive or b) a bigot. For example, clearly if the entire world immigrates to Britain, Britain is screwed. Whilst the entire world is obviously not going to immigrate to Britain, but there will come a point where there are just too many people coming in. If you disagree, you're naive. Someone will do an impression of a floaty, brainless hippy who thinks people can survive with no food is only they love each other. If you agree, you're a bigot. Someone will do an impression of a Nazi.

I do believe, for example, that immigrants should have to learn English. I won't even go abroad without learning at least "hello" and "thank you" in my destination country's language. I wouldn't dream of moving there and expecting them to accommodate me, even though most people do speak English now. Some people thought it was bigoted of Gordon Brown to suggest mandatory English classes for immigrants. You won't often find me standing up for Brown, but how on earth is this a problem? I'd hate to live in a country where I couldn't understand what was going on. If someone offered me free language classes, brilliant. Reading back over that last paragraph, I can see that it may, to some people, appear that I am bigoted against immigrants.

I have a term for this - The Davidson Effect. Named after World's Most Terrible Comedian, Jim Davidson. When writing the above, I worried all the time that my sentiments were ones Jim Davidson would agree with. For those who don't know (lucky bastards), Davidson makes racist, sexist, homophobic jokes (he also hates the disabled, but I'm not sure what the right word for that is), and commits the worst crime of all by not even bothering to make said jokes funny. Some comedians can make nasty jokes of this kind and be hailed as "pushing comedy's boundaries" and "having a refreshing disregard for political correctness". Davidson, however, is regarded as a pathetic, out-of-touch '80s throwback. If a new stand-up's comedy stylings are compared to Jim Davidson's, you can be certain that it isn't a compliment. Jim Davidson's fans are regarded in much the same light as he is. For example, if I were to admit to liking America's Next Top Model (sorry, it really is entertaining), people would just think I was suffering from a lapse in taste. They wouldn't assume that I was everything the show was - i.e. shallow, fluffy, camp and a waste of most people's time - but Jim's fans are assumed to be exactly like him.

In his stand-up, Dara O Briain told his audience that he'd made a very bad joke that had offended the gay community. I think he made it when he hosted Have I Got News For You, and was a really shit joke about Elton John and Billy Elliot. He received an angry letter from OutRage ("For those of you who don't know, one of the previous targets of one of their campaigns was Robert Mugabe. And now me.") and explained that once he realised he'd fucked up, he backed down immediately "because if I hadn't, I might just as well have started playing golf with Jim Davidson." If the joke itself didn't offend you, and the letter from OutRage didn't sway your thoughts, then this line tells you all you need to know: it's wrong because Jim Davidson thinks it's right. Golf has often been shorthand for exclusion and bigotry, and it only serves to ram the point home. If he hadn't backed down once he knew he'd been offensive, he would be a sad old loser with absolutely no place in the modern world. "Playing golf with Jim Davidson" has entered my personal lexicon as the actions of someone who has embraced his or her own bigotry. O Briain was also disturbed to receive a letter of support from some "concerned citizens" who wanted to praise his "comments on the link between paedophilia and homosexuality." They ended by expressing their support for his "stance against the forces of sodomy". Yes, forces of sodomy. O Briain finished reading the letter and added a sardonic, "Yours sincerely, Robert Mugabe", which is an extremely handy phrase to throw into a conversation when someone has said something particularly shocking.

I can't call this a regular feature yet, because I've done that with half my entries so far and haven't yet done a second one for any of them. Oh well.


LadyLazarus said...

I must say, your commentary on these subjects is fantastic. I especially love your little interjections of comic relief. :)

Jen said...

Why, thank you!