Saturday, September 28, 2013

Relax everyone, he's only kidding.

Satire is difficult. Get it right, and you can create a cultural touchstone that lives for years ("a Modest Proposal", "Shatner's Bassoon"), get it wrong, and you look like an eejit. I'm pretty sure that Martin Samuels thought he was being pro-gay in a cheerful banter-tastic-type way when he suggested that Joey Barton should come out as gay (that was a weird one) and the working theory on Tam Cowan's rather strange piece for the Daily Record is that this was a joke that 'misfired'. 

(and yup, the Record has added a rider to the piece now - "Editor's note: Folks, we would like to point out Tam is a professional funnyman and what he has to say should be taken with a large pinch of salt." Uh-huh.)

The thing is, using stereotypical views on a subject in a satirical way can misfire badly if they just look pretty much like other non-satirical viewpoints, and those make up a significant part of 'genuine' coverage of the subject. This follows Adrian Durham's apparently serious suggestion that women's teams should play with a man in goal (amusingly, in the middle of a Euros that saw several cracking keeping performances from teh ladiez, and which was followed by Nadine Angerer being named Best Woman Player in Europe). Cowan's schtick looked worryingly familiar - and wasn't funny or extreme enough to distinguish itself from what it (apparently) seeks to parody. 

The problem is that you need a whole mountain of salt for Cowan's piece not to be offensive. Banterific wordplay? Cracks about the gender of women players? Head-patty language? Check, check, check. Yeah, he didn't actually mean it. Yeah, he was taking the piss out the people that really think like that! He's being wacky! He's a comedian! He's ... sounding exactly like a lot of people who do mean it. If this is 'comedy', it's of the take-my-mother-in-law-oh-i'm-just-kidding variety that doesn't escape being rude and dismissive because the writer is winking desperately throughout. It's just not clever enough. 

Anyway. Well done, Scotland. With Sweden in the group, and the four best runners-up of seven groups having to play off for the final European finals place, hitting the ground running is very important. Onwards and upwards.