It’s only as an adult that I realise again and again how naive films and television have made me throughout my life. Stories always showed someone who was good and fought the good cause against someone who is definitely, undeniably evil. Even in cases like Star Wars where Darth Vader (SPOILER ALERT, though seriously, how did you not know this?) ends up good again, it was because he had started out good, been turned wayward by evil and thusly could be redeemed again by an act of good. Everything was all black and white, Ying and Yang, Ant and Dec. I’m not sure which of Ant and Dec is the good or evil one, or which is which anyway, but one has slightly more arched eyebrows so it’s probably him. Everything just seemed very clear in the world and very straightforward. Then you grow up and start to realise that some people that do awful things are quite nice, some people that do nice things are really horrible, some are good in certain contexts but bad in others, some are just really boring and you wish they’d go away a lot and some are just idiots. It’s taken a long time to realise it but people can’t really be typecast as easily as television would have you believe.
Yesterday was another day in the endless turmoil of my life where I realised just how naive I am. As per yesterday’s panicky and babble filled blog, I crammed in studying for a radio show, partly to not seem like an idiot, and partly because I knew I’d be on with someone who worked for a newspaper I really dislike. The cramming was, on the whole, unnecessary. It was a relaxed show with tempered opinions and no need for in depth knowledge or opinion. It was also unnecessary because the person I was on with was very lovely, very friendly and very agreeable on political issues. Within minutes of meeting him, he’d very quickly stated that he doesn’t agree with most of what his paper publishes, isn’t very right wing at all and does it all because they have an audience and have to print what they like. Which I shouldn’t have been surprised about. I’ve encountered this before when meeting a journalist for a very right wing paper whose articles are repeatedly causing controversy across the Twittersphere. In person the journalist in question was very friendly and told me very quickly, ‘I’m the one who writes all the articles everyone hates. You have a to have a niche don’t you?’ I looked around the room at the event I was at, and saw journalists from papers that vehemently disagree with each other, just hanging out and having drinks. Bubble popped, eyes opened. I instantly felt like I had no idea about anything.
Journalism, much like politics, is a job. It seems ridiculous how often I forget that. How often I read a piece and think ‘HOW ON EARTH COULD YOU SAY THAT?’ fuming at the notion of such expression without stopping to realise that this rage is exactly what was wanted from the writer. Of course it is. In this world where newspapers are an ever decreasing form, you have to cater for the people that still buy your product and towards getting others to take interest with what you write, whether that be through agreement or disagreement. Time and time again someone’s told me about a piece only taking the absurdly opposite view to common sense because it meant they got paid for an article. It is much the same way that if I’m at a big weekend club I’ll do material I don’t enjoy as much but works for drunk people, whereas a mid-week crowd will get me telling them my actual thoughts. It’s all work and we all need our audience.
Yesterday, talking with my fellow panellist I felt so relieved talking about the disappointment we both had in MP’s or the state of things and the radio show, as a result was really fun. Then afterwards I realised that actually, maybe I should be really upset that he was an agreeable person. Because despite not believing in – in this case extremely right wing views – he was printing them and perpetuating myths that often lead to vicious prejudice around the country by people who read then believe them. So is that then worse? How on earth do you begin to tackle that? Print your viewpoints but lose your audience and possibly your job, or print what people want to hear but lose your personal moral stance? I am an advocator of doing things because you want to, because rather than money you want to express an opinion. But I also have no financial dependants, and in my job I can earn money for expressing them. In a world where employment is scarce, who I am to say otherwise? Maybe the smartest thing is that we all just wise up the constant game that the media and politicians play. It’s not real. It’s a farce to push opinions one way or another to generate revenue or business or votes.
Which ultimately, isn’t really anymore reassuring when you realise that people are then suffering because of a game. And then you realise how much easier Star Wars was to understand and how even though one of Ant and Dec is definitely evil they never seem to fight anyway so must need the constant balance of each other in order to survive. At that point, I give up trying to work out how life works and have a biscuit. Sigh.
I’m doing my first ever UK tour in 2014, starting end of January. All dates and most ticket links are up at my website: http://www.tiernandouieb.co.uk. Please spread the word and come along as if you’re not there, it’ll be rubbish. It’ll just be me in a room and if I can’t get 3G I’ll be really bored. The very funny Chris Coltrane is supporting me on some dates and the brilliant Keith Farnan is doing a double header with me on others.