Predictions and censorship

As predicted it’s all starting to mount up, but as NOT predicted, it’s going in a different direction. I thought I would be off to Chile to be part of the cutting edge of what motor racing should be with the Copper X-Prix up in Antofagasta. I was pretty invested in going out to the Atacama desert and trying to help make something important. I like the work and I like the team. But my agent rang.

First of all, the Germans. I had a blast filming with them in early summer. They want me back for longer. I’m very much looking forward to the result of all this filming. The last one to screen saw loads of random text messages from Teutonic friends. It went out on Christmas Day. Who knows when these next two will go out, but the fact they’ve asked for me without audition is teutonic tonic. God love them. If I’d had some actual meetings at the start of my career I might equally have UK production companies asking for me too, but back then I was too distracted with the life shit that was happening, with no agent support and the false comfort of Bright Young Things. By the time I looked around the planet had moved on and everybody assumed they hadn’t met me because I was no good rather than my mum died and my potential big agent decided to drop it all and get married in California.

This is why, despite being sad about having to cancel Chile, I’m also deeply grateful. My agent has drawn a connection to a good casting director. That casting director is deep enough in her craft to see me clearly. Outside of the Germans, who have been so uncomplicatedly loyal that I’m quite emotional thinking about it, this casting director has just given me a nice little role in a known thing that’s shot here, just down the road from me, respectably paid and enough to remind me that THIS is what I do for a living. Yes I also build races, run workshops, catsit, train people, invigilate, fix film shoots, carry freight, read scripts, AD, ASM, sell antiques – plus I probably ought to write but I don’t… But my primary is and always has been my acting.

This month the universe and my agent are in alignment reminding me that I’m employable. Thank you, universe. I was about to sink myself into doing global racing logistics. I would be so fucking happy doing that, but I would be separated from my daemon and always just a little bit glassy eyed. It’s gonna be hard with my friends on the race crew. I could’ve been a boon in Chile. But… With the geography issues Silvia is thinking of doing it all with buses anyway. Maybe it’s the right one to miss. Maybe I would have been vibrating with unused energy the whole time until something went wrong.

Still. I’ll never go to the Atacama desert now. Big loss? Nah. Maybe not. It might have been another tick in the map. I’ve always held that the world is big and we are still slow. Nobody will ever see it all. But we should try to see as much of it as we can. The more we see, the rounder we become. Particularly if we go to the places that are not fêted and advertised. That’s where the truth happens. Sure that’s where crime and poverty happens, but hold the travelers mantra close: most people can be trusted.

There are not many people who are genuinely capable of being evil. Most people are kind and good. But, and this is important: The people who are genuinely capable of being evil? They can only see the world through their prism. So… They assume that everyone is as potentially awful as they are capable of being. They are the ones who will fill you with fear about what might happen to you in an elsewhere place. You might catch their fear, and maybe a kind but desperate person will see your fear and think you’re an idiot and it’s ok to rob you if you’re already terrified of them. Don’t catch the fear from the psychos.

Ok, I’m a six foot male and sadly I’m not speaking to the fact that men, globally, are and have been fucking unforgivable for centuries towards women in public and I’ve seen it again and again and again in this lifetime. Sometimes I’ve tried to help, but I’m just another man. So yeah, sadly the sexual dynamic is not my area of expertise. If that’s not on the table I would contend that the vast majority of people and situations are safe – most people worldwide are actually good people.

Trust is the mantra of the traveler. The narrative that we are surrounded by volatile psychopaths is and can only be perpetuated by the actual wolves in sheep’s clothing – by the psychotic humans who know deep down that they are just nasty beings, but… they’ve “got it under control”. “If I wasn’t in control of my impulses I would X X” they think to themselves. Like all these desperately awful humans who are campaigning against drag queens reading to children. “Drag Queens are paedophiles,” they cry. They see people who are sexually unconstrained. “Who would I be, if I were liberated like drag queens?” they ask themselves. “Those drag queens are paedos!” they conclude.

There are many many better things to get exercised about.

I’ve even found myself getting pissed off about comedians in Edinburgh lately. Jerry Sadowitz is working in character and he is trying to put the worst thoughts into perspective. Censorship only causes entrenchment. His agenda was not one of hate. He only really hates himself. He wants you to hate yourself too if you’re a nasty piece of work, and he teaches you how to do it by deconstructing your shit thought patterns. It’s clever. You can take anything like that out of context if you want to. But his second show of two was cancelled because he upset members of staff with the content and had a big student walkout percentage. (About ten percent of the total house)

We need to manage our outrage. We really do. The Pleasance knew what they were booking. Whoever spearheaded the drive to cancel his second performance has done two things. 1: Made him the primary comedian of choice for the hateful brigade that he definitely does not like. That’s cool. His next show will probably take them apart into little tiny pieces if anybody is grown up enough to put it on.. 2: Made a previously untouchable comedy production brand (The Pleasance) look like a bunch of partisan idiots who are completely out of touch with the point of what they are supposed to be selling, and what character comedy IS. I remember seeing Laura Wade’s Posh in the stalls. I knew the Assistant Director and he got me a house seat. The audience guy behind me was unevolved but from a similar upbringing from me. “Classic!” He would occasionally fwah to his partner out loud, with his stunted breath rendering staccato laughter. “I’ll remember that one eh eh eh huuur” “The play isn’t for them, but they love it…” said my friend when I brought it up in the interval. Remember, most people around you have paid £200 a ticket. Fwah. I knew “Posh” wasn’t a Stan play for the Bullingdon Club. But the mister fwah behind me really thought it was. So yeah, despite intentions, things can be wilfully taken out of context.

“In a changing world, stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged. There is a line that we will not cross at the Pleasance, and it was our view that this line was crossed on this occasion.” That’s part of the statement.

I am frightened by this statement. I worry that you might tell me that I’m clinging onto something, and fuck it I’m happy to learn so school me because … In character? So you can’t have a character say hateful things? Like? All the villains ever… … Those guys in Posh?

I don’t particularly give a fuck about Sadowitz. He’s a shock guy. But… He assumes we are mature enough to parse his shit and then draw our own conclusions. He is playing a character and any genuine hatred I detect is inward. This sort of thing from a major comedy venue is dangerous though. It’s only a step or two away from policing thought crimes.

But … I’m over 40 now. We need to make room for those who are coming up. And we need to adapt and learn new tricks. I’m just not sure if this is a decent battle. It feels nastier and weirder. Sometimes concessions HAVE to be made but what do we cut off when we cut off angry mischief?

The world I grew up into pre internet is not the world I live in now. Like with travel, so with time. We have to acknowledge change of social morays as we do with change of literal location. I will try not to be left behind. Normally I’m very happy to run with the changes. I just… I just hitch with this. Like it’s a snag and I can’t feel beyond it… I’ve not even seen the offending offering – hell, very few people have, and of the ones that did loads of them had an agenda. I might hate it. I might hate him. But that’s his JOB. If you make whatever the fuck too taboo to say then it becomes the secret special thing that groups say together and it makes them feel happy to be part of something secret and underground. Sadowitz looks like a last line of defence in that context. “Look at yourself openly and out loud. Is this your hate? Why? Fuck you!” he says.

But maybe people have looked at themselves and seen hate of some sort. Maybe they have been shocked by their own human potential. And maybe… maybe that made them uncomfortable enough to fight for one show to be cancelled. Not to get people to go and assess it and learn. Not to reshape and mature through the performer’s vast demonstrated but valleys l calculated immaturity. Just to stop the thing that challenges. Stop it now now now it hurts.

Look to yourself, I would say, if you are one of those. Look to yourself because you might well be paving the road to hell with those good intentions.

And so to bed.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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