Thursday, August 11, 2005

It's pledge week on PBS again
Now don't get me wrong, I love PBS, but why is it that every time they do into fundraising mode the audience has to be subjected to a week's worth of Celtic kitsch? I'm as proud of my country as the next Scot but this is ridiculous. There's a show on right now about Scotland that has lots of beautiful scenery, but what's with the "ye olde castles where the mighty clan chiefs once fought" voiceover? The music a moment ago got so maudlin that P quipped "who died?".
Well, I suppose I should be grateful that at least they're not inflicting Riverdance upon us any more. It has been replaced by the equally horrible "Celtic Women", whose entire musical repetoire seems to be based on "who died?" and "oh damn, jilted again".
I really would appreciate it if my countrymen would refrain from turning my culture into prepackaged kitsch. It's dreadfully embarassing.


Anonymous said...


My friend Brian, who is from Kirkaldy and who serves of the board of a charity with me, quotes Billy Connolly to our colleagues: that's the Walker Shortbread Tin version of Scotland.

Scotland is not a museum, some giant Colonial Williamsburg. And this from a guy who wears a kilt to non-Scottish formal events.


Cassandra Says said...

You're welcome. I was having a "hand over the pan pipes before I am forced to beat you to death with them" moment there. Although now that I think about it a fully loaded shortbread tin might make quite a good weapon too.
I'd love to hear your take on the sports and masculinity-related post above by the way. I get the feeling you're a bit more overtly macho than the rest of the commenters so it might be interesting to see if you percieve things differently.

Anonymous said...

I can certainly put together a "manly man" resume. I watch motorsports and I'm a serious boxing fan, I was the captain of my high school Tae Kwon Do team, I played rugby, I worked in construction on and off for nine years (drew my first paycheck at 13).

I'm a litigator, and I made by reputation at my firm on a case where I turned in two 100-hour weeks in a row, taking the unofficial associate records for most billable hours, week and month.

I can hold an intelligent conversation about small arms, armor or military aircraft, or about military history in almost any era, with almost anyone but a specialist.

I'm a reasonably athletic, muscular, mid-sized guy with a shaved head. I can shoot, fight, drive and fuck.

So, yeah, if satisfying the criteria for patriarchally defined masculinity is an important credential for criticizing it, I have my ticket punched. I hold all that at arm's length, though. It is gender kabuki, and I am not free of it, just more perceptive about the boundaries around me than some.

When I was in my first year at college, I was activist and pro-GLB, but I was uncomfortable with effeminacy. I thought that queeny gay men fed the stereotype. Then one of the guys from an org I worked with chewed me out in front of everyone one day. He was a waifish model, and he said everyone knew what he was as soon as they saw him. He didn't hide, he was out to everyone every day, and that took real guts. He was right, and I got the message, and I've never thought since that my way of being a man is the only way.
I know that my relationship with the construct of manhood is an unstable, dynamic negotiation that I do with myself and society.

On the Scotland front, I do love bagpipes. I keep the Wicked Tinkers (who are from over on your coast) on my ipod, and also some more traditional pipe music. When the pipes are playing and the drums are hammering, I think I actually stand straighter and walk taller.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of Scottish pride and manhood (and this is related to the "real men don't complain" phenomenon), Scots are responsible for the vast improvement in driver safety in motorsports.

There are only really six Formula One drivers that anyone could reasonably put foward as the greatest F1 driver of all time: Fangio, Clarke, Stewart, Senna, Prost and Schumacher. Of these, Clark and Stewart hailed from Scotland (Clark from Fife, in fact).

Well, in the 1960s, driver safety was unheard of. Run-off areas were grass launchpads, angled with no thought to bringing cars to a safe stop. There were unprotected trees and obstacles that could be impacted at speed. Serious crashes injured of killed drivers most of the time. Drivers took for granted that they were likely to die behind the wheel.

Well, Wee Jimmie Clark, at the wheel of the great Colin Chapman Lotus cars, was the three-time drivers' champion, and in addition he was an all-time great in sports car racing. In 1968, he died in a sports car race.

Real Men (TM) just accepted this. Rosemeyer died behind the wheel, and Brabham and Phil Hill and Moss all raced before anybody gave a shit about safety. Hadn't Hemingway said that there were only three sports: motor racing, mountain climbing and bullfighting (each of which posed the imminent danger of violent death)?

Jackie Stewart, the most talented up-and-comer of the period, was shaken by his death, and by a crach at Spa in Belgium in 1966 that left him trapped in the car for 25 minutes without adequate medical care. He started demanding that F1 consider driver safety. He continued to push for driver safety through his career, which took him to three drivers' titles and 27 wins before his retirement in 1973 and made him one of the most recognized sports figures of the 1960s and early 70's.

What motivated Stewart? The current Road and Track has an interview with the first American F1 champion, Phil Hill, who quoted Stewart as saying that when he traveled to the (old Nordschlieffe circuit of the) Nurburgring, he took a long look at his driveway, because he knew he might not make it back.

Jackie Stewart was afraid. He didn't want to be maimed or killed just to race with the best.

Because everybody accepted his tremendous talent, Stewart could campaign for safety, when nobody else could. But even for him, it must have been tough. Real Men (TM) have called other men "pussies" for bringing helmets to the NFL, and face masks to the NHL.

Jackie Stewart was willing to face down the "Real Men," to admit that he feared death and that he wanted to be able to race at a world-class level and still be reasonably assured that he would go home in one piece. For that, he may not be the most talented driver ever to turn a lap in a Grand Prix car (or then again he may), but he is my favorite.

Jackie, you done good.


Cassandra Says said...

Thomas, I think that you are in kind of the same position I am, ie. since we both satisfy the basic superficial requirements of the maintream culture that gives us an opportnity to criticise and have our voices actually heard that other people don't necessarily have. Better use it, eh?
I'm not much of a motorsports person (P is a fanatic though, and his big brother races motorcycles, so I get all the news whether I want to hear it or not). I have always had a soft spot for Jacques Villeneuve though, mostly because he's so non-cookie-cutter in a sport which often seems to be lacking in any real personality. The constant plastering of logos on every avaliable surface tends to overwhelm the people and make them dissapear. Or maybe it's just my preference for mavericks coming out (that seems to be a fairly inescapable part of my personality).

Veronica said...

"It has been replaced by the equally horrible "Celtic Women", whose entire musical repetoire seems to be based on "who died?" and "oh damn, jilted again"."


And, they play it over and over and OVER again.

Cassandra Says said...

I'm really starting to think that the subliminal message of the fundraising drive is "we're going to keep torturing you with this crap until you give us money".

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