Friday, July 28, 2006

Kicking up an N*Stink

Far be it from the muso-queer spotters here at Dante's Handcart to jump on the proverbial bandwagon, but the slightly lubed news that N*Sync's oh-but-we-all-guessed-ages-ago highlighted pop hooligan Lance Bass has emerged from the closet as an out & proud homosexual demands reporting.

"But why?" we hear you giggle, coquettishly, like so many pleat-skirted Japanese schoolgirls fresh from those hentai magazines you & your cousin found under your dad's bed. "Surely his sexuality is his own business and of no interest to us?" And obviously you're right. Except that in this case, our sources tell us Bass' bottom-fancying revelation might have unhinged an important piece of the internet.

While the boyband fans foam at their collectively screaming mouths, the emo kiddies are doing some screaming of their own - only this time because art-photo-friendly gloss gallery Myspace has been sporadically offline since last weekend. Government spokespeople have called for calm amongst the 16-24 demographic, and denied that there is a need to stockpile hair product, hooded clothing and photographs of yourself from a variety of dubiously-flattering angles.

Is it too much to assume that the gay in N*Sync and Myspace going down the sink are devilishly connected? Our hype-monkeys don't think it is. In fact, currently being run up the paranoia pole is the idea that the combined masturbation of gleeful gay men together with the frothing of slash authors has created some sort of super-heated electromagnetic pulse, responsible for scything Myspace from the face of the net.

The only solution, it would seem, would for all non-heterosexual popstars to either live permanently in the closet or accept a life in industries such as hairdressing, airline stewardship or VCR repair (all traditionally "gay friendly"). Only in this way can we prevent pipe-jamming calamity that next time might decimate an even more important site; online banking, for instance, or that one where all the hamsters dance.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Giving the Community Credit

Flopping unsteadily from the zeitgeist sphincter comes Adam Phillips' newest diatribe on happiness and the laughably blinkered attempts we make at achieving it. A Child Psychologist turned Freud fancier, Phillips' latest book Side Effects (published July 27th) is a mental frottage on human desire in which he argues, citing the myriad banals of pornography as example, on the demands of personal appetite and consumerism's attempts to sate it.

"It's like the way pornography steals people's dreams. It gives you pictures of sex scenarios and so, unlike more imaginative forms of literature, stops you creating your dreams. Instead of having your own sexual fantasies the porn industry does it" (Guardian 19/07)

In Phillips' world we are constantly developing our taste for choice and, evolving alongside that, the capitalist supply chain grows to dazzle our aimless lusts. Dante's Handcart worry-possums fear that this masturbatory niche'ism is leading to greater and greater segregation, splitting not only along demographic lines but individual ones as well.

As a particularly aged and papery grandparent can tell you, in the Olden Days there was only one option. People drank PG Tips, listened to the BBC World Service, wiped themselves with Andrex Toilet Tissue and travelled each Summer for a six-day week in Brighton. Everybody was in the same, cheery boat and problems such as street-violence, Hepatitis and sodomy were unknown. The community spirit was still solidarity and not Vodka & Red Bull. Roll forward twelvety years or so and witness the growth of tailored market forces, a global shopping list from which even the lowliest pleb can assemble a lifestyle according to the minutiae of their so-called "needs". Pride events for every culture, websites such as "Rate My Penis Gourd", even the ostensibly harmless lesbian funeral are all indicative of segregation by the tiniest peccadillo.

Accuse us of being sweeping and over-simplifying if you may, but we believe a return to the ethos of hardship can only be a good thing. A sweeping and over-simplified excision of unnecessary treacles and luxury whimsy will allow every single sodding one of you moaning bastards the opportunity to whinge at your hearts desire. And if there's an inhabitant of this fair and speckled isle that wouldn't choose a good spleen-venting over and above a 74 inch colour television with stand, then bring them out and let's stone them to death.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Love thy neighbour

While suffering the night flight on the way back to Blighty, inflatable Empire State hat under my arm and sporting a "You Killed the Two Towers So I Couldn't See Them So I'm Gonna SUE You Bin Laden" t-shirt, this Dante's Handcart ponder-monkey couldn't help but think about minorities and the way people express their prejudices. Given the news that my Lib Dem namesake has handed in his resignation after telling a pro-Israel correspondent to "wallow in your own filth", Bill Bennet's eye-watering (if expected) stance that gay people should really be content with their birth family and not expect to have one of their own, and that Wiccans are being hounded out of their jobs, it looks like we're in dire need of a better way to demonstrate our narrow-mindedness.

Given the high altitude, the best idea to birth its grimy way out of the Dante's Handcart brain canal was a duty-free style system of personal allowances. Individuals would be permitted a number of "hates" based upon their personal similarity to societal norms, with the more "normal" people obviously having more (as is apparently the standard way it works). Different numbers of "hates" could be cashed-in for various methods of discrimination and vitriol - two for a simple tongue-lashing of a single-mother, perhaps, moving up to fifteen to tell a black person to move on the bus, and escalating upward through lynchings, tarring and feathering.

Anybody found exceeding their alloted "hates", however, would immediately be deemed a lawbreaker, therefore moving them away from what is considered "normal" and reducing their number of permitted "hates". Eventually such individuals would earn "negative-hates", and either have to hug gays or maybe lick a foreigner, something like that.

At this point the stewardess interrupted offering me the choice of chicken or beef, and so I only had time to throw my in-flight magazine at a mixed-race couple before settling down to some nice, English food.