Manic Street Preachers – Let Robeson Sing (CD One)

Chumbawamba were dicks when they wished in song that Nicky Wire die in a plane crash. This song is evidence enough why.

No, really, he was a fighter for equal rights and apparently a pretty good singer. He also dealt with communists and had his American passport revoked for that crime. By all Wikipedia evidence he was an impressive man, and the Manics sure as hell brought him to my attention. It’s a solid song – reverent but melodic – and there’s pathos in the line “I’ve gotta learn to live like you / Learn to sing like you.” Damn it, these are good guys over here and you shouldn’t bully them! Spreading awareness of Paul Robeson is a good thing, y’hear me? Being all, as Jello once said, “agree with us on everything or we won’t help with anything” doesn’t benefit the good guys in the long run.

Speaking of which , what else have I been amusing myself with lately? Reddit drama. That means three main silly subreddits: r/subredditdrama, r/antisrs, and, of course, r/shitredditsays itself. Now, lemme say a little about the famed SRS, and let’s hope that shortly after writing this post the whole issue returns to the loam. SRS: a group of people that are right about everything and yet so annoying you would never want to know them in real life. This is a community dedicated to pointing out and mocking when Redditors say annoying things, particularly misogynist things. And they’re right – the internet does tend to be misogynistic. The community is set-up to be, in interwebs parlance, a circlejerk. In other words, a place where disagreement or questioning of any sort is not tolerated (users who do either are banned immediately). This is so that the community is “safe space” where, for example, a fat woman will never see any comment that makes her feel bad for being overweight.

That is all very nice. And the existence of SRS is on the whole a good thing. Internet people do indeed make a lot of racist jokes and fat jokes, and they’re often mean spirited. The main problem (among others) is the attitude of total agreement vs. Anger and casting out. They don’t like Dan Savage. They don’t tolerate, for example, black people who aren’t offended by jokes about blacks any more than they don’t tolerate white supremacists. This is a huge mistake, and it relegates the community to being a small group of internet people forever. There’s no limit on agreement – an argument about how all attraction is sexist or how atheism is elitist (the latter because it comes from white internet people) is not to be questioned, but Obama passing a bill to end prison rape is received with scorn and accusations of patriarchal plotting for dominance. All this from a community comprised predominantly of educated and heterosexual white men who think they know better than everyone else.

There are more issues. Being overweight is not to be in any way related to lifestyle. Evolutionary psychology is immediately and holistically dismissed as if behaviour is in no way influenced by natural selection. Class as an issue is not to be discussed, even though a rich black person is far better off than a poor white person. Jokes are never, ever to be tolerated. And I have an issue with that. As a Jewish person, I’ve seen more than my share of remarks that could be offensive. And I’ll admit, it stings when someone on the street calls me a Jew bastard or says something about how Jews control the banks. I was bothered when “fuck the Jews” was spraypainted on my dorm stairwell when I was in first year. But it hurt because they meant it. When some random on the internet makes a Jew joke in a discussion dedicated to offensive jokes, it doesn’t bother me, because I know it’s a joke. But that opinion is not to be tolerated. The safe space is only ever for people who are offended by everything and want nothing that isn’t a white-washed clinical hum. They do indeed call out bigotry, but in doing so they also call out a lot of sarcastic remarks, benign comments, and scientific results that they don’t like as bigotry. Not everyone has taken the same gender studies courses.

It’s a shame. It’s a shame because the internet can be a hub of dickery, even a lovely site like Reddit. 90% of the time I agree that someone is out of line when they bully women or throw homophobic slurs at homosexuals. But the attitude on SRS that all of Reddit is evil because of the internet misogynists and jokers. That all of the charity and free thought is invalid because of people being jerks behind their keyboards. It is not so. Society is a great thing in spite of its assholes. A society of enlightened people is impressive in spite of its assholes as well.

Grumble grumble. But I can’t stop reading. Agreeing in my head, disagreeing in my head, reading the backlash, reading the commenting on the backlash. They really did give ’em something to talk about. They should have a Bonnie Raitt graphic to go along with their others. Which reminds me – the main humour that’s allowed is literally poop jokes and dildo jokes. Lame. There’s a lot of chaff, but it’s not worth throwing out the wheat.

The other two songs are a bit lame. “Masking Tape” is a lo-fi rock song that wants for a hook. The best part, by far, is the swooshy outta-nowhere bridge, and that’s on the album as the epitaph to “Epicentre”. “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Deliver Daniel” is very catchy, but it’s just a brief acoustic religious song (originally sung by Robeson). Great if you have a friend named Daniel, like I do, but obviously a B-side.

5/10

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