Arts section contributor
Richard Worth is a writer from the North of England who, in addition to writing comics and short stories, occasionally writes soap-box pieces about politics and culture. His work has appeared on Cultured Vultures, The Nib and The Skeptical Enquirer. You can find Richard on Twitter at @Rikworthwcp.
(21.09.17) – Satirical Sabotage
Sean Spicer made an appearance at the Emmys on Sunday evening and an institution I hold incredibly dear to my heart almost destroyed itself. It was unexpected and extremely upsetting, but with time I think things could be alright. I am not referring to the Emmys of course, but to the tradition of satire.
Since the dawn of the Trump Era (a TARDIS-like section of time that hopefully, history will see as quite brief but which feels eternal to those in it), satire has arguably become more important than ever before. I’ve written about it a number of times for The Norwich Radical and I genuinely believe that mockery of the maniacal and mighty serves as a psychological sword and shield, at once cutting into the ego of demagogues and simultaneously protecting us from being pummelled into submission by their beliefs.
(07.09.17) – Lady of the Flies: Workshopping a Bad Idea
Hollywood seems once again to be trying to prove that it is incapable of coming up with an original idea, while the ideas that they do have are disturbingly off base and fly in the face of prevailing winds. The latest is a forthcoming remake of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies featuring female characters playing the traditionally male roles. Predictably, it got the internet, usually known for its tempered and considered reactions, good and riled up.
Lord of the Flies is a complex and challenging piece of literature. As such, adapting it with such a major fundamental change, threatens the integrity of the original story. Having the story revolve around a group of girls, rather than boys, presents some hurdles but I think it doesn’t necessarily destroy the story’s function.
(22.08.17) – Nazis in Fiction: Deviations and a Constant
Let me start with a slightly embarrassing story about myself. A few years ago, I headed back to the rinky-dink northern town I was raised in for the Christmas holidays. I was searching through my old toys, school work and books when I came across a children’s illustrated book on World War Two. I remembered flicking through this book endlessly as a child. The painted images of the storming of the Normandy beaches, the Spitfires’ dogfights over the channel, and the hopeless, terrifying prisoners in blue and black stripes behind barbed wire fences all climbed from my subconscious in recognition.
What I didn’t remember is how many swastikas I had drawn all over the pages in crayon. I shuddered that I had so mindlessly repeated this image over and over. The thought of a child using their inherent passion for creative expression to create this symbol of hate frightened me. The fact that that child was me ashamed me.
Often my articles here in the Arts section follow a similar pattern; I observe what I think is a poor defence or poor criticism of a subject, give my contrary reasoning and cast some shade, then tried to conclude with what I think is a better approach to art in general. The overall meta-thesis tends to be “artists and audiences need to be smarter and less sensitive”.
Whilst I do have fun writing such pieces, I feel that my critical pattern is par for the course for liberalism in general. There is an overwhelming feeling of being against something rather than for something. Politically I can reason myself around this. If I’m against inequality in the workplace, I’m de facto for equality. With the arts though it can make me feel like a grumpy old curmudgeon who hates everything and writes from a place of negativity and harsh criticism; To remedy that I wanted to write about something that I was excited about. I failed.
CW: domestic abuse, gender-based violence. Contains Spoilers for The Red Pill
I’ve been waiting for a decent documentary about Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) for a while now. Because I prefer not flying into fits of rage, I’ve avoided MRAs on the internet like the plague. What I know of them are second-hand accounts and logically baffling retweets. An impenetrable layer of laziness and self-preservation means that I have been waiting for someone else to do the hard work of getting to the core of what MRAs believe, why they believe it, and whether or not I should take it seriously.
(11.07.17) – Joan Lee: The Marvelous Muse
The story goes that Stan Lee was dragging his feet on Marvel’s latest bid to catch up with the Distinguished Competition. He was becoming bored with the monster-matinée mags he made with Kirby and uninspired by the sci-fi parables he produced with Ditko and now his bosses had tasked him with making a book to rival DC’s newest hit, Justice League.
Stan wasn’t one for superheroes. They were too perfect, too unflawed, and too unfit for the hyper-dramatised, purple prose that was Stan’s hallmark. He moped and complained about his artistic integrity, as writers are wont to do, boring all around him until his perpetually patient wife finally told him to get on with it.
(27.06.17) – Bill Maher: A Joke
CW: discussion of racial slur
Twiglets, I have an unusual and likely unhealthy relationship with twiglets. Everything about them disgusts me. Their burnt and bitter flavour, their odd withered and gnarled appearance and the quantity in which I consume them. Likewise, I have an unusual and likely unhealthy relationship with Bill Maher and his show Real Talk.
(13.06.17) – Arts in the Aftermath
We’ve just got through the new Tory annual tradition of having the nation vote on internal party issues and having the result batter the incumbent Prime Minister. And, whilst the result is somewhat bittersweet with comedy boob-patting socialist Jeremy Corbyn – aka ‘the future liberals want’ – tearing chunks out of the Conservative mandate, we are still left with a government formed of a crypto-nationalist, sexist, and regressive party and an actual nationalist, sexist, and regressive party.
The truth of the matter is that no one was sure what would happen before the election, or during it and now we’re on the other side it’s only fitting that British democracy remains chimerical, confusing and dare I say it, unstable (take that May!). As such I’d like, as I do every fortnight, to say a few words about the current position of the Arts.
(30.05.17) – StripTease: Admiration for Satirical Cartoon
If you have read my work here at The Norwich Radical and elsewhere (shameless self-promotion, I know) it should be apparent that I enjoy satire. And as reality subtly blends in a dystopian crap-scape, one of the very few plus sides is that the satire game is booming. In addition to the plethora of late night hosts to match personal preference (Colbert does it for me) keeping us informed and helping us to laugh instead of cry, the humble illustration has been holding a mirror up to the corrupt, the cruel, and the incompetent and making them look ridiculous, and they know it.
(16.05.17) – Captain America: Truth, Justice and the Outrage Way
Captain America is a Nazi and everyone is very, very mad. There has been a whole bunch of articles about Cap’s Nazification, some explaining it away as comics being comics, others taking a very real offence to the souring of Steve Rogers’ origins. Created by Jewish superteam Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as a way of taking out their frustration at America’s lack of involvement in WW2, it’s clear that this change has huge importance in our current climate.
You might have seen the worrying news that Britain has slipped further down the World Press Freedom Index. This index, monitored by Reporters Sans Frontiéres, rates the freedoms (duh) of the press to report what they like without fear of governmental repercussions. For a breakdown of why Britain is doing so poorly, take a look at the RSF website.
A brief summary is that our governments (those loveable scamps) are trading off the freedom of the press for national security. What’s worse is that there is a potential new law on the horizon that would allow journalists to be treated and sentenced as spies in cases of leaked information. After all, these are the “enemies of the people”. Though this absurd bit of legislation has been temporarily halted, there is serious concern that, much like Tony Blair, it could return and ruin everything.
(30.04.17) – A Thank you to Comics Artist Leo Baxendale
The Beano was a part of my childhood I took for granted. To be clear, that’s not to say I didn’t value every issue I had, more that it was a fundamental part of my existence. It was always around and I assumed everybody read it in the same way I assumed everybody had tea in the evening. The Beano and its characters were accepted, not considered. Which brings me to a shameful point: I never thought about who created them.
The death of Leo Baxendale is a sad loss for the nation.
(18.04.17) – Fearless Little Girls and Great Brass Bullocks
If you’re reading this you are doubtlessly already aware of Kristen Visbal’s sculpture Fearless Girl, that has taken up residence on Wall Street opposite Arturo Di Modica’s Charging Bull. Sculpted by Visbal and funded by State Street Global Advisors Fearless Girl appeared on March 7th, 2017 (the eve of the Women’s March) and went viral. Its intention is to address the lack of women at the top of huge corporations.
Most people would have to agree this is a worthwhile cause; unfortunately, Di Modica isn’t exactly happy about Fearless Girl’s placement and is currently campaigning for its removal. Before we decry this as sexism or fear of the power of women, in any fair society he should be allowed to state his claim, so let’s hear it.
(28.03.17) – Do We Live in A Democracy?
Depending on how you feel, questioning whether we live in a democracy is either incredibly stupid or incredibly scary. In a democracy, every member who is eligible helps to decide how they are governed. Essentially everyone has the same voting power, the same level of influence over government, and the same means of expressing that influence.
But in reality this is an idealised version of democracy. In truth, we admit that there simply isn’t time for us to all have a say in every matter that affects us. Instead we elect officials who more or less represent what we want; accepting that they may stand for a few policies that we don’t agree with but we take the rough with the smooth. After all, the nature of democracy means one doesn’t get their choice every time. It’s the nation’s consensus.