Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Channel 4 man of t' people Paul Mason has been slobbering over Russell Brand and pretending Lou Reed was a hippy utopianist

One of the attendees at an informal gathering of old Nine O’Clock News staff last week was bemoaning the loss of the Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason to Channel 4 News. I couldn’t help responding that the BBC should be congratulated for finally getting shot of a “fucking communist”, adding that Mason appeared to have had no knowledge or understanding of the subject the BBC hired him to comment on.

Since he joined Channel 4 - the only British broadcaster even more nakedly left-wing than the BBC – as its culture and digital editor, Mason might as well have been wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt. He demonstrated his cultural credentials by starting with a half-hour documentary about the Northern Soul scene, centred on the Wigan Casino, where, in the 1970s, working class youths would congregate for weekly all-night sessions gyrating to obscure Motown tracks. We were even treated to the sight of the old codger attempting to recapture past dance-floor glories. Apparently, it had all been about oppression and poverty and fighting back and solidarity and… oh, well, the usual romantic, nostalgic, socialist claptrap of which we who attended private schools in the soft south would obviously know nothing (down here, you see, we have business partners rather than friends and everything we own has been handed down to us by our rich, fascist parents).

From what I’ve seen of Mason’s output over the years, he’s obsessed with the notion of them at t’ bottom organising a revolution to crush them at t’ top. The inane, selfish posh college kids who formed what passed for the backbone of the mindless (and long defunct) Occupy movement really got the old lefty’s juices flowing. Here he was, writing about the pompous, self-adoring pricks of Paternoster Square in October 2011 (full article here):
Of the people I met: lots of student occupation activists from last winter; veteran leftists and veteran anarchists going back to the days of Saltley Gate; people involved in NGOs; an Oxbridge professor of computer science; a large smattering of "Anonymous" people - with their Guy Fawkes masks - who've become the new pole of attraction for the deep "autonomist" movement. Some women with their babies. And - the biggest group - just ordinary people. 
Though the place was swarming with media, including a hilarious spoof of a Fox News reporter wearing a flak jacket, the main complaint is that the media is ignoring them and does not understand them…

But, of course, Paul - that hilarious spoof a Newsnight reporter - understood them.

Now that the Occupy crew have long dispersed back to their universities and squats and their parents’ nice warm houses in the better sort of suburb, I expect Mason’s been feeling a bit bereft of revolutionary heroes to slobber over. Enter arch-prat Russell Brand stage very much left, who last week appeared on public platforms (and Paul’s old stamping-ground, Newsnight) to share with us ordinary people the sort of piercing insight into what we’re thinking that former heroin addicts who’ve gone on to earn vast fortunes in Hollywood films are apparently privy to. Russell, you see, thinks capitalism has had its day, profit is evil, greed is destroying our planet and… (well, I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks). What it all boils down to is that we’re on the verge of revolution because young folk are really, really angry that they’re not be as economically well off as their parents - although, of course, their real motivation is a love of egalitarianism. So it would be good if we ignored democracy and imposed a system where everybody would have nothing - or everyone would be rich. Or something. (It was all a bit hard to follow, really.)

This, of course, was music to Mason’s ears, as can be deduced from an over-excited, incoherent mess of an article (here) lauding the compassionate humanitarian who thinks it's okay to phone up octogenarian actors and make disgusting remarks about their grand-daughters. Here's Mason's conclusion:
...while on my timeline everybody over 40 is saying, effectively, "tee hee, isn't Brand outrageous", a lot of people in their twenties are saying simply: Russell is right, bring it on.
Despite over 40, I'm not saying "tee hee, isn't Brand outrageous": I'm saying "Oh God, isn't Brand stupid". And, of course, people in their twenties aren't saying "bring on the revolution". Recent research into the social and economic attitudes of young Britons shows that, while they’re socially more liberal than their parents’ generation (unsurprising, given a steady diet of BBC propaganda), they’re far more economically libertarian (surprising, given a steady diet of dirigiste BBC propaganda from the likes of Paul Mason). Young people think the welfare system is too generous, they’re in favour of privatisation, they want the government to prioritise paying off the deficit and they’re pro-business: one suspects that if Mrs Thatcher were still around, they’d be voting for her in droves. (In case you think I'm making this up, click here.)

So where exactly is the revolutionary groundswell that Russell Brand espies from his Hollywood Hills West home? In Paul Mason’s fevered imagination, evidently. Speaking of Mason’s imagination, here’s a cosy luvvy tweet he sent to his new hero: You're welcome to come on #c4news anytime. We're plebs and we know we are...

It would be hard to think of a less proletarian corner of the United Kingdom than the Channel 4 News studios. Jon Snow may have attended Liverpool University, but he and almost all his fellow presenters and correspondents are perfect examples of the wildly privileged, snobbish, Thatcher-hating urban liberal media elite.

The real reason I’ve decided to have a go at Mason was his Lou Reed obituary last week. This was one of the worst reports on a dead rock star I’ve ever seen, being almost entirely bereft of music, but absolutely packed with Mason’s own political and social obsessions. First, there was a clip of Reed banging on about how anyone could play his sort of music after a few minutes (posturing nonsense and completely untrue), then there was a bizarre clip of Reed talking rubbish to Occupy protesters, pretending to be on their side. I’m quite sure the misanthropic old curmudgeon despised their lazy, unoriginal hippy thinking: Reed was a counter-culture figure, but the culture he was seeking to counter was that of addle-head hippy utopianism. Mason should be ashamed of himself for using Reed’s death in order to bolster his own far-left enthusiasms.

The BBC is well rid of the blister.


  1. Reed later came out and said he regretted the sentiments that he expressed in songs like Sweet Jane...mocking hippies and protesters.
    Pavement were good for this the beginning.
    "I'd like to check out your public protest/why're you complaining/talk"
    Malkmus has probably softened too...I don't know.

    When Lou Reed really mattered he got it right...or he got the right wrong answer. No human utopia...only a very base hedonism.

    1. Just grew soft and sentimental in his old age - as most of us do. I just think co-opting the snarling old junkie misanthrope as some sort of lovey-dovey preace creep just to bolsetr some lefty journalist's extreme minority world-view does a disservice to what made Lou Reed a distinctive. What was really upsetting was the lack of concentration on the man's music, which is all I'm really interested in. I agree with you that Reed rejected the right thing - while proposing the wrong alternative (I enjoyed reading "Last Exit to Brooklyn", but I never wanted to live in that nightmare world).

      I'd never heard of Pavement. But I am a fan of "Satellite of Love" - am I forgiven?

    2. Pavement were a band...the best band of the 90's hands down.
      In a deliberate effort to distance themselves from the wounded boy, thrift store college rock or whatever...they were emotionally vapid (if not mean) and willfully un-involved.

      "Told her I was free of disease/And she believed...she believed in me"

      They ripped The Fall, Swell Maps and the Clean like they were Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley.

      Crooked Rain/Crooked Rain was there second full length album and probably as prosaic as they ever got..dealing with their initial exposure to the "real-ish" entertainment industry.

      "Out on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins/Nature Kids/ I...they don't have no function/ I don't understand what they mean and I could really give a fuck"

      A lot of nonsense and gibberish that sounded good together too. Anyway the line about "Public Protests" comes from that album...songs called Silence Kit.

      You may or may not remember my video rant centered around Satellite of Love....that song's untouchable.

      Off to post some Pavement now.

    3. Not Silent Kit...Elevate me Later.

      Silent Kit has the greatest noise break ever recorded.