I'm very upset at having to do this, but I must.
*takes deep breath*
*silently apologises to personal comedy gods*
Shut up, David Mitchell.
Ouch. That hurt. I am a great lover of the divine Mr Mitchell - his ranting, his inability to understand music, his ordering of David Cameron to just shut up and do things. Love him. This article, however, I do not love. I can find nothing to love about it. I can't even love that it's ripe for a smackdown, because it isn't. It's so self-importantly smug that it makes me want to hit him in the face, and since I believe that violence is never the solution, I can't go line-by-line on this one. What I can say is this:
I was offended by Brand and Ross. David Mitchell is obviously not offended by Brand and Ross. Fine. If he wished to write an article detailing why he was not offended, I would write an affectionate post asking him to please check his privilege. But that's not what he's done. He's written an article that says, several times, that Brand and Ross were definitely wrong. He then spends four paragraphs patronising us about it - it's so obviously wrong that nobody should have said anything. It's so clearly wrong that nobody should be allowed to complain about it.
He then goes on to tell us: if you complain about a broadcast, you have no life. If you weren't diligently listening to the broadcast when it was originally aired, you don't get to complain (well, you can, but I will then cover you with a large dollop of Unwarranted Snide. It now comes in strawberry flavour!) Oh, and if you complained, you're an idiot, because Brand and Ross were so obviously in the wrong it would be the same as saying "Post office closures in rural areas cause widespread inconvenience."
Uh, David? People do complain about that. That's how they get them not to shut the post offices. It doesn't always work, sure, but what good will it do them to sit at home and say "No, I'm not going to bother complaining about the post office closing. It's so obviously wrong, they'll think I'm an idiot if I say anything." When we think something is wrong, we complain, otherwise people KEEP BLOODY DOING IT. If there had been no complaints at all about the incident which I will not call Sachsgate or Brandgate or Rossgate or Hahaha-I'm-sweary-and-he-sleeps-with-a-lot-of-womengate, you think they would have got together after the show and said, "You know what we did was so obviously wrong that I now feel heartily ashamed of myself. Let's never do that again"? Do you think? Or might they have thought, "That was funny. We should do that every week. Who else have you slept with, Russell?" And it can't be wrong, can it, since nobody's complaining.
What really irritates me, though, is that he finishes up with that tired old trope about how comedy is all about taking risks and they've been pretty successful in the past so why are we complaining when...zzzzzz. Sorry. First of all, if they knew it was wrong, as you keep insisting, then it wasn't a risk, it was just assholish. Second of all, do you remember that time Russell Brand phoned 999 during a gig and tied up the operator for quite some time pretending he'd seen a man wanted for multiple sexual assaults? Remember when he potentially put lives in danger and took the piss out of women whose attacker was still on the loose? Do I get to complain about that, David? Do I? Even though I wasn't there and it's quite clearly a stupid thing to do? Russell Brand is not a sensible man. He's not "taking risks", he's just doing whatever he feels like and couldn't give a shit if real people get hurt. We have to say No, Russell. Stop it, Russell. We have to tell him no every time. Because he does not get it. Perhaps you haven't noticed?
And thirdly, please see my quote of the year:
"They mocked the weak. You have to aim a bit higher than that."
Perhaps talk to Bill Bailey sometime, David. Perhaps try to understand that just because someone is a comedian doesn't mean we have to accept "I was trying to be funny" as an adequate explanation. We have the right to say no, not good enough. You get paid truckloads for this, go back and come up with something that's funny. We also have the right to say that harassing people isn't funny, humiliating people isn't funny. You would agree with that, right? I mean, it's obvious. But it's not obvious enough to stop them from doing it. It wasn't obvious enough to make either one of them think, "Hang on. Calling up Andrew Sachs and leaving message after message about how Russell Brand fucked his granddaughter isn't actually funny" or "Wow, that would be a colossally mean-spirited thing to do to him and a horrendously disrespectful thing to do to her. Let's not do it." That didn't happen, did it?
So, in conclusion, David, don't you dare talk down to me for stating the obvious. "Kids shouldn't ring doorbells and run away," you say. But they do. So we tell them to stop, and/or complain to their parents. "Post offices closures in rural areas cause widespread inconvenience," you say. Yes, they do. But they're still being closed. So we protest, and we complain, even when we don't use the specific post office in question. "Donkey homelessness is a crying shame," you say. Yes it is. So we raise money for sanctuaries, and we complain when we hear of animal mistreatment. You then go on to imply that anyone who would dare to complain about Russell Brand thinks that drug addicts deserve to be homeless, for which I would really like to give you a clip round the ear, but I can't, because your ear is currently up your backside with the rest of your head. Don't you dare condescend to me like that. Don't you dare call me an idiot for having a problem with something that's wrong. Yes, it may obviously be wrong, but it's STILL HAPPENING. Which is why we COMPLAIN. Yaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh.
I'm being harder on David Mitchell than maybe I should be, but I'm doing so because I'm a fan. And I became a fan because not only did he not need to do the easy-target jokes, he called out other people who did them. He got cross with Angus Deayton for focusing on Ann Widdecombe's looks rather than her highly unpleasant political stances, told off Frankie Boyle for making a "Chinese sounds a bit funny" joke and ranted at a studio audience for laughing at a rape joke and booing a "Peaches Geldof won't have a very long marriage" joke. This is why I love him so much, and this is why I hold him to a higher standard than those who aren't in my Dara/Bill/Ross pantheon. To hear him spew out the comedy-is-risk crap when Bill Bailey so neatly and wonderfully buried that argument in one sentence is somewhat painful. You have to aim higher, you have to be better. Yes you do. And above all, you have to stop using such bizarre logic as, "It's obviously wrong, therefore you shouldn't complain about it." Please, David. I love you. Stop it.
Note: I have decided to add a "Bill is My Guru" tag for such posts as these - when I expect more of someone, be it a comedian, a politician, a friend, or myself, Bill is my guru. This is the new motto of LLS - you have to aim a bit higher than that. I realise this is a fairly lofty motto for a blog that goes on about America's Next Top Model and occasionally stops to pick apart grammar, but I can if I want, dammit.