Friday, 26 December 2008

it was never really about those two men, you know

One lesser-publicised byproduct of the Ross/Brand witch-hunt has been that, since then and specifically since the BBC submission it led to, Tim Westwood has been unable to feature live freestyles on his generally unmissable Sunday night 1Xtra show.  These have instead been pre-recorded, with the sheer power (because music radio never sounds as good when it's not live, whatever its field) inevitably weakened and the show cut up with already overplayed jingles and trailers for other presenters, who are undoubtedly born more deeply into what they do but who lack the sociological heat to turn good radio into transcendent cultural history.

The implications of this (check page 9 of the Christmas issue of Private Eye - unlikely source, I know - for further proof of what I'm getting at) are precisely what the self-appointed censors were aiming at.  Unlike the shows of Ross and Brand, which were made up very largely of music by fully-paid-up members of the New Establishment, or even his own Saturday night show, which is often incredibly exciting radio (in a way that ideologically-sound rap radio could not be today or at any time since Public Enemy's peak) but is made up largely of aggressively anti-socialist, anti-collectivist messages, Westwood's Sunday night show was (and even in its diluted form still is) genuinely socially subversive.  To have neutered him was probably the Mail's ambition all along.  The British Right's view of him is, more than anything else, reminiscent of the view of Peter Hain (before he was Blairised) once held by the South African Apartheid elite and its lickspittles in Britain - for the Right, an heir-turned-traitor is always the ultimate hate figure.

Had I been blogging at the time, I would have said that even people who hated Ross and Brand needed to stand up for them because of the deeper issues at stake - that while neither of those characters have a millionth of what Dennis Potter had, the arguments being used against them are the same arguments that would be used against someone of that calibre if such a person ever appeared again.  That's what happens when someone keeps silent as long as I did.  You get what needed to be said two months ago.  But I fear that we will need to say it many more times over the next few years.  I hope we will not still be saying it, knowing our voice is futile but with no other idea of what we can do to overcome it, when it's all too late.

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