Just an Observation Thursday January 19th


So Julie Burchill is at it again! Winding up the chattering classes with her own special brand of polemic designed to drive them out of their complacency and send them into paroxysms of moral and righteous indignation with a series of tut-tuttings and missives complaining she is bigoted and misinformed. Yawn!

This time the object of her scorn is the transgender community who she took to attacking after her friend Suzanne Moore vilified them in print resulting in a Twitter storm which saw the aforementioned Ms. Moore counterattack and then close down her account. This step-down  saw her longstanding friend, Burchill, leap to her defence via an article in the Observer which saw her refer to transsexuals in her usual blasé deliberately confrontational way thus garnering herself a bucket load of attention whilst her inside article made front page headlines for days after. Job done! Again!

I have always had a turbulent relationship with Burchill’s writing- agreeing with everything she says is not the point because the point is she is actually making one- but I have always been glad that she is actually there raising issues even if her approach is diametrically opposed to what she is saying or what I actually believe. She does always make you think however and how many other journalists can we actually name and say that about? Therefore the subsequent censoring of her article reeks of lily livered editorial fear at causing offence which is surely the main reason for employing her in the first place.

As someone who has spent all their adult life blurring the gender boundaries and distinctions I was vaguely amused, rather than offended, by her article as I considered it little more than a rant not dissimilar to one you hear in any pub on any night of the week. If you hang out with interesting people who actually have the balls-no offence to any transgender people intended- to say what they think. It was a rant which went too far and, if honest, was outdated-‘dicks in chicks clothing’, come on Julie what is this? The nineties? Surely you are paid enough to do better than that- and rather predictable. Rather than offending her readership she actually kowtowed to them in a manner, as surely any transgender person is aware of those sorts of remarks whilst suffering not only them but so many other more hurtful insults on their journey in discovering their true selves.

I think, in essence, what was so offensive about the article is that to see these remarks written down and perhaps being confronted with what is generally considered a throwaway joke as something more malevolent and darker. Burchill has always ridden high on her controversial outlook but she does always confirm that it exists. What she also always does is show that those who are generally complacent-i.e. boring- get outraged by what she says and in some ways she is doing them a favour by shaking them out of their cocooned narcoleptic lives.

But let’s face it Burchill is now in danger of becoming that thing she most despises; she is becoming boring and predictable. In this she has started to reflect the right on, liberal attitudes of those she was once paid to offend and to counterbalance this she has resorted to picking on minorities who get picked on and sidelined- often unwittingly as usually those doing it aren’t aware of the fact they are doing so and usually hide their own fear or misgivings behind someone else’s prejudice- on a daily basis.

As the dull folk of our populace are in the majority –always have been, always will be and that is fact!- it is therefore easy for the likes of Burchill to manipulate them for her own gain and attention seeking ways. She does however have the right to offend as often as she wants as it is always easier to fight an enemy when they are in clear view rather than hiding behind sympathetic, understanding smiles and generic platitudes all served with an insincere faux sincerity. So come on Julie next time at least throw out an insult which is even more offensive preferably one that is at least original or perhaps a little more thought provoking.

Other news this week sees HMV and Blockbuster both going into administration and the generic British high street, we have all come to know and loathe, facing a much needed enforced overhaul. Whilst the news of HMV’s demise is sad- not least for the four thousand plus who will lose their jobs- it is inevitable as the digital onslaught threatens to engulf our life in every sphere.

Admittedly I was a late convert to buying digital music as record shops were a major part of my own personal growing up and formative years. It seems the high street is now going to have to rethink its strategy as it is clearly struggling in the wake of the online onslaught of retailing which has moved into every corner of the market. I have yet to succumb to online clothes buying though as it is one of the few retail pleasures I have left. Call me old fashioned-in fact don’t, as it would be untrue and only result in my own designer brand of offence rising to the fore- but I actually like to see and feel an item of clothing before I put it next to my skin. A more detailed look at what the closure of HMV means to a generation brought up in revering the record shop and the experiences which came with it can be found here.

Out this weekend is a film by that other major controversial figure- eat your heart out Burchill, it will be less fattening than the tower block you obviously consumed for breakfast- Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained. A full appraisal of the film will be posted as soon as it is viewed although early reports indicate it signifies that it is up there with Tarantino’s best.

That is it for this week which sees the weekend hovering into view along with the first real taste of winter as temperatures dip below freezing on a daily basis. No sign of the promised snow, so far, but give it time.

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