The novelist Howard Jacobson is a free spirit who is always worth reading. In his column in The Independent (subscriber-only) he defends the BBC, but sees clear through the hypocrisies of the art-for-art's sake camp:

"A little honesty all around wouldn't go astray. A little honesty, in particular, when it comes to the giving of offence - that part of the process we tend to skip over in our passion to remind the takers of offence of their responsibility....

"Jerry Springer - The Opera" was no good. Funny for five minutes, it grew unfunny once one got the trick of it. It was repetitive. It was poor satire - cloth-eared when it came to seizing the essentials of a Jerry Springer show, lazy in the opportunities it missed both to plumb the despair and reach for the sublimity, facile in its assaults on our respectabilities.

"...[W]ith the giving and taking of offence at the centre of our thinking, we have to ask whether we are applauding the giving of it for no other reason than that it intends to give it, and let the aesthetics of the giving go hang. In our concern for freedom of artistic expression, are we forgetting the art?

"...After hitting on the sublimely funny idea of enshrining the word 'fuck' in an oratorio, I'm surprised the writers of 'JSTO' didn't realise the responsibility they then bore to lift it beyond the merely would-be naughty.... That they settled for reiteration of the founding gag might be because they were swept up before they were ready into the too eagerly receptive arms of the National Theatre, or might it be because we have so fetishised the giving of offence that we do not care in what form it is given?"

|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/01/shock-value-ii-novelist-howard.html|||1/15/2005 01:21:00 pm|||||||||