Tuesday, September 16, 2014


It has occurred to me the last few days how entitled I really feel and how much I need taking down some pegs. It is true, as has been pointed out to me not a few times in the last year, that I have a tendency to tease and ridicule people around me. When I consider why this might be, well, of course in part it is down to being insecure - just like everyone is, to a greater or lesser extent, it's a holding position between fight or flight, isn't it.

When I was a boy, in the 70s, we all loved Monty Python (well, boys did. Girls often less so. Why was that?). I think I have blogged about this before. The misogyny in MP was one thing. But there was also a not unrelated element of MP which involved 'cutting through the shit' of politeness and pleasantness and being 'real'. The underlying - no, overlaying! - message of MP was that social intercourse was all platitudes and niceties, and what people really wanted to do was abuse and use each other. It was pretty 'punk' in that regard, and fairly nihilistic, unless I'm misunderstanding what nihilism is. From this I got a hankering to always imagine the worst-case-scenario of the social faux pas. What is the worst thing anyone could say to someone to either burst their bubble, or clear away the falseness?

I was talking to Danny Butt about this last night, in regards firstly to the Bulletin cartoons I blogged about a few months ago, and this reminded me in an atypical cultural-reference leap of the film Big, in which Tom Hanks' character Josh reveals the truth of his situation to Elizabeth Perkins' character Susan, that he is just a little boy. In the case of the Bulletin cartoons I wondered out loud, the first time I'd considered this, whether perhaps the reason white middle-class Bulletin readers found the notion of 'primitive' people putting forward 'sophisticated' ideas funny, was not that they hated Aboriginals (though undoubtedly they did) but that they might be attracted to the idea of themselves as, on some level, 'primitive' or base. In Big, Josh's protestation that he is just a little boy is interpreted by Susan as a ploy to get out of a committed relationship. But she also agrees that, underneath, we are all children. I've had the same feeling - particularly when talking to certain friends and acquaintances - that whatever the subtlety or nuance or even sophistication of their words, they are really just screaming 'me - me'. Of course, when people get drunk, it's even more the case. See it a lot.

Anyway. It has also become clear to me that what is tolerable, perhaps even appealing, in a 10, 20, 30, even 40 year old male, is perhaps less appealing in a 50 year old one. So behaviour modification begins today (actually, it began yesterday). I am going to put the anxiety over the possibility that I might appear less interesting or witty (ha) on the back burner in favour of being polite and encouraging. No-one really likes being teased, and of course I hate it pretty much more than anything you can imagine. It's a bad scene. 

What has this to do with 1969, you may ask. Well, it's the year my world turned upside down, and shortly after, the world turned upside down. My brother Michael was born in January 1969, and I was no longer the only child with all the attention of my parents, grandparents and for all I knew everyone else on the planet, bestowed upon me. I am glad I had that 3 years 9 months of the spotlight, I guess, although perhaps if I hadn't had it I would have a little more humility... who knows. But it was certainly character forming. Then later in 1969 the rest of the world got to know what I had been through, because you know, Altamont. Also, 1969 is an amazing song by the Stooges which I always enjoy. But it's only taken me 45 years to appreciate what impact 1969 had on me, and one of those impacts is to feel like I should be the centre of attention and always deflating those around me lest they suddenly seem more interesting to someone else or themselves. That's probably why I love blogging too, you have been warned. 

More confezzional character suicide later peepz. 


Anonymous said...

There is nothing particularly interesting or witty about being mean. Not that I implying you ever were or anything. Age not an issue on that one.

Pants said...

Wow - Monty Python not liked by girls? I was at a public co-ed high school in Brisbane in 1971-72 and my best gal pal and I would always get to school early on the night after Monty Python was shown to discuss with our best boy pals. We all loved that it existed at all.