The Big Issue : Edition 479
THEBIGISSUE6–19MAR2015 13 We’ll just say that, as one of popular culture’s erotic experiences, it is only mildly less arousing than the IKEA catalogue. It stirred nothing within me save for a dim regret that I never sought my Knots badge at Brownies. However, my predilections are not a universal guide for women, and thank goodness not everybody does as I do or we’d all be doomed to seek sexual partners who have a keen interest in foreign policy. Honestly. I couldn’t even think of an intimate exchange with anybody without knowledge of the Balfour Declaration. I don’t know why; it’s not like I am especially well-versed in Middle-Eastern politics. This isn’t the point, though. The point is: if ever you have any designs on the effective removal of my underwear, you must be able to say complicated and critical things about globalisation. We all have fetishes; that being in a cinema full of ladies excited by ropes is not one of mine is irrelevant. Which is why I have found the widespread debate about the film in question so curious. There seems to be a number of people, presumably those who did get their Brownies Knot badges and wish to protect their sanctity, terribly disturbed by the matter of others’ arousal. Actually, it’s not even the sexual morality that disturbs me. I am quite used to the prudishness of people and I find their need to organise the genitals of others unsurprising. What I deem to be the worst thing about this latest ‘debate’ is its repetitive nature. There is a repeated rebuke of “this is everything that is wrong in the world”. A TV host recently opined that it was “films like this” that created violence in society. A large number of people seem to believe we are not, in fact, adults capable of distinguishing entertainment fantasy from a guidebook on How to Live. They believe this in the face of much evidence that it is the material conditions of people’s lives that tend to govern how they live and not video games, popular songs or movies with knots in them. Violence precedes bad movies and will outlast them and never has there ever been a meaningful connection drawn between genuinely negative human behaviour and a piece of art and entertainment. Yet, there is such eagerness to pinpoint causes in pop culture for all the bad things that happen. When the postcard first became available as a means of communication in the early 20th century, opinion columnists of the day called for its boycott. The concern was almost indistinguishable from what we see written about Facebook today, with ‘experts’ declaring we would become impatient and unable to maintain a thought. Jazz. Rock’n’roll. French literature. All of these things have been blamed for our decline. If I were to blame any single aspect of popular culture for our decline, it would be the terrible habit of blaming popular culture for our decline. Well. That and the encroaching failure to master Baden-Powell’s catalogue of knots. “I am quite used to the prudishness of people and I find their need to organise the genitals of others unsurprising.” RAZER All Tied Up PHOTOGRAPHSBYJAMESBRAUND AS I AM a person whose lack of good sense is evenly matched by great curiosity for what stupid people are saying, I have recently become aware of a media debate about a popular film. The film – which poor sense led me to view – is one of which you have almost certainly heard but whose name I elect not to mention because, frankly, you deserve better than that. Let it be obliquely said that the screenplay takes its inspiration from history’s biggest- selling paperback and its plot involves a lady who is tied up in knots. Literal ones. It is not my business, in this respectable publication where you might expect freedom from nonsense, to offer you my impressions of the film. » Helen Razer (@helenrazer) is a writer and Brownie in spirit. She has awarded herself many badges including: Grammar Domination, Tomato Growing and Alertness to Stupidity. See pages 38 and 41 for more about that film and those books.