Tag Archives: opinion

Hot Take: That thing you like is actually bad!

You know that thing you like? You know that thing that everyone thinks is good? I’ve got some bad news.

It’s actually bad.

Yes, that’s right. That thing you like is bad.

Maybe you think it’s funny. Or cute. Or in any way worthwhile. Maybe you derive some fleeting enjoyment from its existence. But you shouldn’t. It’s bad. And you should feel bad for not thinking it’s bad in the first place.

You see, I’m the one who sees things correctly. I know what’s good and what’s bad. And so I can see that the thing you like isn’t a thing that people should actually like.

I’m there in the comments. I’m telling you that cute animal is actually in distress. I’m telling you that you’re racist. I’m getting offended on everyone’s behalf.

I know all the ways in which things are problematic. Or could be construed as problematic. Or that I could deliberately misconstrue in order to portray as problematic. And if you’ve got a problem with that, you’re part of the problem too.

Oh, and that other thing you think is good? That’s bad too.

Everything good is actually bad. I’m sorry, but you really should have known better.

Oh, you disagree with me? I’m afraid you’re just a troll. Thinking things are good is bad. Defending good things is trolling. Only I am not trolling. Only I have the true overview of things. And I’m telling you that you’re wrong.

Next time you think something is good, just ask yourself “what if it was actually bad?” And then you will know the truth.

Then you will have the hot takes as I do.

My hot take on Russell Brand

Russell Brand! Remember him? I do.

I was scratching my head, trying to think up something new to write about. And I recalled that about three months ago it was all the rage to write a thought-piece about Russell Brand. Every blog, column and clickbait piece was in on it. And there I was just going on about Shrek or something.

So now that the smoke’s cleared, what’s the situation? Well, let’s start by going over the basics:

RB started off as a comedian (started off in the sense of his career as a celebrity, he did plenty before that). That took off pretty well, and then he became a general celebrity for a bit. Then he did the whole America thing and Katy Perry and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, etc. Now he’s back in Britain and basically trying to do politics.

It seems like a non-sequitur, but it’s not really. I’m an big fan of Rusty (if cookywook didn’t make that clear) and have been for a long time. I remember even back when he did his old radio shows with Matt Morgan, he’d frequently go off on one about love and the inevitable revolution. So at the very least we can’t say he’s being opportunistic or inconsistent, he’s had some sort of political leaning from the get-go.

Unfortunately, Russell’s entrance into politics happened at pretty much the same time as that other chap, Nigel Farage. And the fate of the two has become somewhat interwoven. Both figures are new on the scene, and trying to shake things up. They’re like the punk rock to the rock’n’roll politics as usual that we’re otherwise used to. They talk different to what them other guys’n’gals talk like. Farage is a smoking, beer-drinking lad who’s not afraid to ‘say it like it is.’ And Russell’s a famously promiscuous ex-drug addict, who’s not afraid to ‘say it like it is, using several thousand syllables to do so.’

And yeah Farage sucks. But let’s not tar Russell with the same brush, eh? I think he’s got far more going for him than most people give him credit for.

Remember that first Paxman interview where Brand wooed the interviewer with an effable charm?

Here, Russell comes across really well in my opinion. He’s charming, he’s funny, and making some good points.

But around this time the criticism of Brand begun. Being a bit different comes at a cost, it seems. Much was made of the fact that Russell Brand proudly declared that he didn’t vote. Says Paxman: I’m saying that if you can’t be arsed to vote, why should we be asked to listen to your political point of view? But I get it, if you don’t believe in a system it’s nonsense to continue to participate in it. (Though I’m a believer in social change through democratic means, myself). The point is, Russell’s position isn’t the incoherent mess that people made out.

And what of the fact that Russell didn’t have a positive alternative to suggest beyond the vague idea of a revolution? Well, that doesn’t make his criticisms of the system any less valid. Look at any comment column, it’s mostly just criticism of what the Government is doing. What’s the positive story being put forward there? There doesn’t need to be one.

Meanwhile the political parties are trying to put forward their own ideas, but they’re weak as hell. Everything on offer is a carbon copy of everything else. Cameron, Clegg, Miliband – they’re all boring nerds! Brand at least has a clear view, he stands for something. What does Clegg stand for? Caving in on tuition fees?

And people have a go at Russell for using lots of big words, as if that’s a bad thing. From the video: Well, I don’t get my authority from this preexisting paradigm, which is quite narrow and only serves a few people. Using the word “paradigm” doesn’t make your argument bad. It’s a word that has a meaning and Russell is using it in the correct sense. I haven’t yet found a case of Brand speaking where I haven’t been able to understand his point because of the words he’s used. In fact, I find him rather eloquent and at the very least a welcome relief from the tired mantras of the main parties. “Hard working British families” anyone? I’ll take fanciness over that any day.

Well, this has been a bit unstructured really. But I think I’ve made a good stab at my feelings. I like Russell Brand and think he’s a force to be welcomed in politics. Even if you disagree with every word he says – and feel free – you can’t deny that he’s something different to everyone else, and plurality is what the whole thing is supposed to be about. Democracy without a real difference between the choices on offer isn’t really democracy at all. Without it, you get an apathetic voting public (check) and the rise of fringe extremism (double check).

If anything, we need more Russell Brands. I volunteer myself.

Let’s not write all our opinion pieces like this

Something has happened in the news and I have an opinion about it. I’m going to try and convince you of my point, which you can tell because I’ve said “let’s not” in the title. This partisan polemic will be punctuated with lots of prescriptivist prose for pseudo-intellectuals to praise.

I’ll start by demonstrating how this thing that has happened in the news affects me personally. Perhaps something similar happened to me once, or I can get offended easily on someone else’s behalf. This makes me uniquely suited to telling you all what to think about it.

Next I’ll try and sum up the debate so far. I’ll go over the thing that happened in detail, even though you’re obviously already aware of what happened if you’re reading my comment. I’ll then explain what people have been saying about it so far. Look, here are some quotes from other comment-style articles! By laying out the debate like this I’m automatically making my opinion appear more valid; after all, I’ve surely considered all these opinions myself and still chosen to form my own. Patting myself on the back right now.

Now a whole paragraph in which I act as if I’m in any position to tell you how to live your life, or how government should form policy. So what if I’m massively over-simplifying how things get done? That’s not my problem. If I can write it, it can happen. I mean really, everyone would be better off if I just got put in charge of running the whole damn show.

Here are some statistics to back my point up. 25% of all statistics are used to prove points like this in comment pieces. Want a source for that statistic? Tough luck. I don’t need to back myself up, I just need to interpret the statistics in whatever way makes me look right.

But of course I wouldn’t say all this without thinking about the other side of the debate. Here are some imagined responses to my comment. Of course, they’re all straw men or ignore the nuance of real debate. But I win anyway! This makes it look like there’s no serious alternative to my point of view.

So that’s all pretty much case closed then. Here are some closing comments, even smarmier than the rest of the article. Feel free to let me know your point of view in the comments, which I have no intention of reading.