Category Archives: vulgarians

Vulgarity of expression in the British cultural élite

Leafing through the cultural section of the Observer, which Dalrymple explains is

the Sunday newspaper of the intelligentsia (at least, that part of it that still reads a newspaper),

he comes across the following statement, by a playwright called Lucy Prebble, about her latest work:

It’s a risky, clumsy motherfucker, this play.

The accompanying picture is of the playwright,

dressed in a rather pretty and no doubt expensive flowered frock, smiling and looking exceedingly pleased with herself.

Dalrymple notes that

apart from the obviously bogus self-deprecation of the statement,

the use of the word motherfucker

is clearly intended as a signal of her liberation from supposedly bourgeois restraint and her desire to assert her membership in the linguistic underclass. We may assume that as a successful playwright she is capable of more expressive, less uninformatively vulgar ways of describing her doubts about the value of her play. Her choice of word is not to convey anything meaningful about her play, which it is clearly incapable of doing, but to establish her social and political virtue, that is to say her nonmembership of an élite that once upon a time would not have used such a word, and certainly would not have wished it to be published that it had used it.

Exceedingly pleased with herself: Lucy Prebble

The English: ugliest people in the world

Something that strikes Dalrymple every time he returns from France, where he lives much of the time, to the country of his birth is

the extreme vulgarity of the English by comparison with the French.

It is as if the English had

adopted vulgarity as a totalitarian ideology, a communism of culture rather than of the economy.

The vulgarity is

insolent, militant and triumphant. It will brook no competition and tolerate no dissent. It exercises a subliminal terror to discourage any protest. It is the ruling characteristic of England, of the prosperous as of the poor.

At the airport,

you can always tell a flight bound for England by the number of grossly fat and hideously apparelled passengers waiting to board. No man can be blamed for being ill-favoured by nature; but every man can be blamed for making the worst of himself, as the English do as a matter of principle.

Britishers are

the ugliest people in the world — but this has nothing to do with biology. Their facial expressions, their gait, their speech, their laughter, their gestures are crude. The mothers of no other nation known to me address their children in tones so lacking in tenderness and so expressive of shrewish irritability and exasperation, with voices shrill, penetrating and impossible to ignore (except, of course, for their children, who will very soon sound like them).

The crude and corrupt British state broadcaster

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 17.15.49For the right to receive television broadcasts in their homes, British households must pay a poll tax equivalent to about $210, which subsidises the British Broadcasting Corporation. 

This broadcasting system, writes Dalrymple, exemplifies two of the guiding principles of contemporary British public life:

  • the active promotion of adolescent vulgarity and sniggering crudity
  • the shameless looting of the public purse

Needless to say, the BBC

is losing viewers and listeners all the time; a growing proportion of the population never tunes in to any of its programmes.

The BBC certainly cannot claim any longer

that it produces, as it once did, the kind of intelligent programmes that commercial broadcasters shun.

Dalrymple points to vast payments made to the BBC’s fifth-rate ‘comedians’. These payments, he notes,

represent a gift from state functionaries (who themselves have also looted the public purse unmercifully)

on condition that the ‘comedians’

keep contributing to the ideologically-driven vulgarisation of the culture.

There has been a return, says Dalrymple,

to the 18th-century days of state patronage, with this difference: that the men who exercised it back then were men of taste and discrimination. They knew a Dr Johnson when they saw one.

The grossly sordid British

How they acquired a taste for the trashy, the vulgar, the stupid and the worthless

The toffs of Auntie hired Jimmy Savile, says Dalrymple, for his cunning and ability to take advantage of changing times. He was knighted, for services to downward cultural drift.

Dalrymple writes:

Official endorsement of execrable taste was a boon to those who had to fill several channels a day for 24 hours, because stupid programmes of execrable taste are so easy to produce by comparison with those of intellectual or artistic value, which can be produced only in limited quantity.

Savile was a militant vulgarian to the last,

as his gravestone demonstrated. But it is only the vulgarity of modern British gravestones to a slightly higher degree.

Savile was

both a beneficiary and shaper of contemporary British taste: he found it bad and left it worse. If his field had been art instead of prolefeed, the critics would have praised him for being avant-garde and transgressive.

Savile was a product

not just of the BBC, but of the British people, of whose taste he was a true reflection.