I feel trapped. The walls are closing in and there is no refuge.
Satire has laid down its arms to placate those that purposely misunderstand and misrepresent. The humourless police humour, the barbarians police morals and music’s dying embers have little more than nostalgia keeping the flame alight.
This week David Bowie and Lemmy died. I find the communal grieving that surrounds these things another sign of a sick society. One where even grief can be downloaded from social media for free, finally answering the question “Is nothing sacred?” But that is another rant for another day.
So it isn’t death that is adding to my disillusionment, or rather dimming the light of my hope. Death is only sad for those left behind but the joy of new life, new ideas and new expression provides some consolation. These deaths only serve to hammer home how little we have to consol ourselves with.
I used to say of Camden Town that I would rather be mugged than have a Starbucks on the corner. It wasn’t strictly true, being mugged isn’t pleasant, but hyperbole has a way of getting a point across unambiguously without volume. Starbucks moved in, the music scene went East, grew ironic beards and, much like MTV, wasn’t really about music anymore.
My city is dead culturally. Music consists of soulless soul singers, privately educated rock bands and faux singer –songwriters with acoustic guitars, clenched eyes and, unlike their audience’s sense of dress, a complete lack of irony.
All this exists under the threat of violence, to address which can brand you a social outcast or get you killed. The reaction to mass rape and molestation in city centres across Europe were met by media blackouts for days and silence on my Facebook wall when the news finally broke. Meanwhile a Katie Hopkins fart can inspire post after post of vitriol. The lack of honest conversation opening the door for the depressingly predictable right-wing backlash to follow.
So I do not exaggerate when I say the walls are closing in, we’ve had it too good for too long, to the point where self-indulgence and entitlement reign. There is nowhere to run any longer. There is no man falling to Earth to save your soul from mediocrity. We desperately need new art forms, weapons grade irony, satire, anger and love and we need a place for that all to flourish.
Each and every one of us needs to make sure that a space exists for difficult conversations to take place, controversial expressions of anger to be voiced and the experimental to be cultivated; without which you do not get Peter Cook, The Sex Pistols or David Bowie, and without which we are left with little more than reposting Internet memes as a form of self-expression. As I said, I cannot breathe.
©Copyright Dean Stephenson 2016