Stand Tall


Contrary to what people might think, Nuts was staffed by left-leaning middle-class family men (and women) who were smart, funny and talented. The office would usually be found picking apart last night's Newsnight, rowing about politics or discussing house prices.

 [...] They were the funniest, brightest group of people I'd ever had the pleasure of working with.

[Terri White]
"My success was built on other women's boobs", Observer Magazine

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The people who can lead must lead.

The people who know better must act better.


There is a tendency in our culture for those of us who know better to indulge in things that we do not truly like or believe in whilst justifying our actions through irony.

We stand at the threshold of some sinful place and delight in its sights, whilst assuring anyone that passes by that we think it is terrible and depraved.

Yet we stay and watch.

We can see this clearly in the overarching nature of popular culture. There are those of us who may not see any problems in a programme like Jeremy Kyle for instance. We may see it as harmless entertainment, and may even think of it in a positive light.

But there are those of us who, if we think deeply enough, will find many things about it problematic. Yet we continue to watch it regardless of our reservations.

We watch with two sets of eyes. We delight in its base appeal - its cheap thrills and cheap laughs. Yet we also see beyond these shallow attractions. We see its problems, and the problems that it poses and reflects on a larger scale.

Ask yourself: is this me? Do I know better? Do I indulge in things that I know are bad for me and bad for society?

Irony is often a refuge for those of us who know better, because it allows us to have our cake and eat it. It allows us to split in two; to speak of principles, whilst acting in a manner that is contrary to them. It points towards detachment. It is as if part of us breaks off and floats free above us, able to see and comment upon what we are doing without being tied down to our body and our acts.

Whilst irony may distance us from the consequences of our actions, it does not protect us from them. It is like a painkiller: we may not feel the pain but it is still there.

Irony finds its natural home in a culture of appearances; in a culture where we are judged by what we seem to do, rather than what we actually do. By what we seem to believe in, rather than what we actually believe in.


It is, then, no coincidence that irony thrives within our current cultural climate.

Our free floating culture has floated far enough. We are in danger of becoming entirely detached from what is real. We are losing sight of the consequences of our actions. We are getting lost in the fantasy world of words and images that we have spun around ourselves and have started to believe that it is real; that our dreamworld can replace the real world, if only we believe in it enough. We tell ourselves that there is no such thing as real, and are led to the conclusion that if there is no real then there is only what we imagine there is. And so we float further into the clouds; further away from the ground.

We are like a person who imagines themselves to be a bird. They may be able to maintain the fantasy for a while but eventually, and inevitably, they will find themselves on a rooftop ready to fly toward the heavens. Soon enough their body - that undeniable anchor - will remind them of who they are; and soon enough they will come crashing back to earth.

There is only so long that this kind of fantasy can continue before we come collectively crashing downwards; before reality begins to assert itself upon us, regardless of our posturing.

That time is now.

These times demand an end to irony. They demand that we become attached. That we become reconciled to what is real, and that we become responsible for it.

We can no longer afford to shelter within irony in order to avoid the reality of our actions. The only way we can create a more balanced and healthy environment is to be led towards it by those who are able to lead. If our leaders shrug their duty, then what hope do we have?

It is acts that convince, not words.

In any collective, there are those who have the strength and vision to lead the way. But it seems that our current culture is so unhealthy and unbalanced that even these people - our guiding spirits - have lost their way. By indulging in cheap and unhealthy habits they make themselves cheap and unhealthy. Instead of leading us to great things, they lead us further and further into an abyss.

Base culture has become so pervasive that it has become acceptable for anyone to indulge. Taken with a pinch of irony, anything becomes acceptable. Where do we draw the line? How much of ourselves are we willing to let go of? How low are we all willing to sink?

There will always be those who live in holes, who see only darkness and depravity. But these people must be balanced by their opposite. If, as we are doing more and more, we all decide to crawl down into these holes, then what hope can we have for our future?

Base culture is like junk food. We know it is bad for us, but it offers a quick and temporary appeal. It does not nourish us, but it tastes good whilst it lasts. It stimulates our taste buds with exaggerated flavours, giving us an instant hit.

Indulging in base culture ironically - with a degree of self-awareness and separation; with conflicted intent - is akin to eating junk food ironically. Regardless of your stance, it is going into your system and wreaking the same havoc as it is with anyone else.

The pattern of indulging in something that we know is bad for us is one of addiction.

The things that we are addicted to will ruin us in the end. The things that our society is addicted to will ruin us all if we are not careful.

If you can do better then you must.

Be honest about your dependencies.
Be strong.
Fight your addictions.

Just as those who are tall must stand tall and avoid slouching or stooping lest they risk problems in later life; those who are morally tall must also strive to stand at their full height.

Our culture vulgarizes us and encourages us all to stoop down. We must fight against its influence and stand at our true height, whatever it may be.

We must stop pandering to a culture that is beneath us. By engaging in it, even if only ironically, we are propping it up and ensuring its existence.

Do it not only for yourself, but for those who are relying on you to show them the way.

Do what you can.

The time is long overdue for those who know better to start acting better.

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Sailing the Turbulent Seas