Saturday, November 02, 2013

The farmers, and why I'm finally starting to get pissed off at them

(Added note: When I first wrote this essay, I thought that the point of my extended parable would be achingly obvious to all readers. Alas, no-one seems to able to decode the cipher. For a while, I considered rewriting, but it may be better to let the article stand as is. Consider the following text to be a puzzle-piece -- or, perhaps, an exercise in surrealism.)

The point I hope to express in this essay is easy to misunderstand -- in fact, I suspect that some people will intentionally misunderstand and misrepresent it. Perhaps the use of metaphor will help.

Very well then. I'd like to talk (metaphorically) about Farm Report.

If you were a kid in the 1960s, and you got up before sunrise, before Captain Kangaroo started the day, there was only one program on one station. Farm Report. At five in the morning, it was the only thing on teevee.

As I child, I thought that this program was the dullest thing imaginable. It was so dull that I had more fun watching the snow patterns on the non-functional channels.

At the time, the show was purely local. Later, it became a U.S. government production. But it was still very dull viewing for anyone not actively engaged in the business of agriculture.

Now, some of you may presume from the above paragraphs that I hate farmers.

You may say that I'm a farmer-basher. That I'm the sort of person who would hold up an ugly sign at the funeral of a farmer. That I'm the kind of guy who would pistol-whip a farmer and leave him tied to a fencepost like a scarecrow.

No. You're wrong. I don't feel hate. I just feel boredom -- if asked to watch Farm Report.

Most farmers are, no doubt, fine and noble people. I just don't care to spend much time paying attention to their issues. I'm simply not farmer-curious. My interests are elsewhere. That's all.

Why would you have a problem with that?

Now imagine a world in which Farm Report was not relegated to a 5 a.m. broadcast slot. Imagine a world in which the show plays at all hours of the day and night.

Nothing wrong with that, really. After all, we have many more channels now than we did in the 1960s. If cable television makes room for two or three channels devoted to broadcasting agricultural information on a 24/7 basis -- well, great.

But no. That's not enough.

Imagine if you couldn't turn on any channels, watch any programs, without being forced to hear about the problems and the travails of the fucking farmers. Imagine if all of television had Farm Report seeping into it. Imagine if every sitcom had to have at least one character who was a farmer, and that half the jokes seemed to be about farming.

Imagine if you couldn't surf the web for more than five minutes without having to wade through those all-important references to land use and soil cultivation.

Imagine if the farming community routinely exaggerated the number of people engaged in tilling the soil. Imagine if you dared not question their hallucinated numbers for fear of being called a farmer-hater. Imagine being called a bigot simply because you questioned the proposition that only farmers are capable of creativity.

Imagine if we couldn't have an election without hearing from a loud group of people insisting that the only issues that matter were agricultural issues.

Screw global warming. Screw the mortgage crisis. Screw income inequality. Screw NSA outrages. Screw the assaults on the fourth amendment. Screw the failing schools. Screw the crumbling infrastructure. Screw the need for a jobs program.

Screw all of that.

Only one issue really, really counts: Farmer rights. Farmer self-esteem.

As long as there's a young farmer out there who doesn't like himself, we should focus on that, because no other social ill is truly real.

Consider: There were four million slaves in the south before the Civil War. Today, there are roughly 30 million slaves in the world.

Bet you never came across those numbers before, did you? That's because most people don't consider modern slavery a topic worthy of discussion.

And yet I'm certain that before this day is out, you'll hear someone bewail the woes of those poor, poor farmers. We will be allowed to worry about other things only when we live in a world in which every farmer everywhere radiates self-esteem at all times.

Priorities, people...!

Non-farmers may wallow in self-loathing for all sorts of reasons. That's fine. That's just the nature of the human condition.

But farmers are different. Farmers are holy.

If any farmer anywhere feels anything less than 100 percent blissful self-assurance for even a moment -- well, we should consider his self-image problem to be a tragedy worse than the death of the planet Krypton.

There's a British comic named Russell Brand who has been speaking forcefully about the corruption of our current political system and the need for a new paradigm. Part of me thinks he's a charismatic young idiot, and part of me thinks he's on to something. Whatever the man's virtues, this much seems certain: There are people on the left who have decided that Brand is not worth hearing.

Why? Not because of anything he actually said. And not because he dared to say anything anti-farmer.

No (these critics said), we must ignore everything that Russell Brand says because he is not a farmer himself. Only farmers have the moral right to leadership; only farmers deserve a political voice. I'm not kidding: See for yourself.

I don't consider myself a farmer-hater. I mean, I'd have no problem working for a boss who likes to grow crops in his spare time. I'd vote for a political candidate who was open about his background in agriculture. If I had a kid, I'd be perfectly fine with my offspring's decision to seed the fields that I myself preferred not to plow.

I'm usually a live-and-let-live kind of guy. Whatever activities other folks choose to get up to out there on the North 40 is their own damned business.

But in the political realm -- well, I'll be frank. I'm beginning to think that most farmers are self-absorbed, manipulative and decadent.

I don't want farmers to be oppressed or mocked, and I don't want their lives to become more difficult. I just don't want to fucking hear about them -- at least, not all the time. I want other topics to be considered important. I want the world to pay attention to non-agricultural issues.

Is that so wrong of me?

And every once in a while, I'd like to be able to turn on my goddamned teevee and watch that 16x9 rectangle for two consecutive hours without a single bloody hint of Farm Report in my programming.
Comments:
As to farmers - they've always pissed me off, even in my native Yorkshire, England. They were always moaning poverty, yet nobody I knew had ever met a poor farmer - it became a standing joke in our family.
(I'm talking about the farmer himself not farm labourers who can be as down-trodden as any other manual labourer.)

As to Russell Brand - though I'm well aware of his past faults (we all have 'em) I'll cheer on any attempt he continues to make to wake people up and keep them awake on the need for some kind of revolution. The reaction of nay-sayers and usual suspects from the faux-left/neo liberals wasn't surprising.

The last two paras of the link you give in your post says it all:

The left may be more comfortable remaining a protest movement lobbing complaints from the sidelines than in seizing the reins of power in order to establish a just, democratic and sustainable world.

In other words, it seems the left may have decided (whether consciously or unconsciously) to consign itself to a permanent state of powerlessness, if not irrelevance.

 
Twi, I don't think you took the meaning of my metaphor.
 
Yeah, I'm tired us worring so much about the Net in Yahoos tooes.
 
I was just going to ask about the metaphor I don't get it
 
Where there's muck there's brass, Twilight my lad.

As for the metaphor, this is rather a departure from this blog's normal "less of two evils" stance.
 
LOL! Oh, I'm sorry Joseph! Metaphor can be a bit like sarcasm/irony on the net, not always easy to detect for the simple-minded. To the simple all things are simple. :-)
And the metaphor you picked hit a nerve in me, otherwise I might have suspected .......well, something.

To be honest I've read through the post again - twice and am still not sure I'm getting your intended meaning. Still it's early yet - I shall keep trying.


Stephen Morgan ~ Aye there is that!
 
It's okay. I kind of like it better as an exercise in surrealism.
 
I'll add this, Twilight: I feel a little like a Russian artist in the Soviet era, when one had to use obscure symbols to criticize That Which We May Never Criticize Openly.

Unfortunately, the symbology can get TOO obscure.

Maybe that's for the best. If people understood what this post was getting at, I'd get a rep as a farmer-hater.
 
substitute political commentator for farmer and i think you get the idea.. and, yes political commentators on the tube or in the press typically piss me off!!

james
 
"Political commentator"? Naw. There would be no need for me to hide my feelings about THOSE guys.

Seriously, I thought the phrase "farmer curious" was a total giveaway.
 
Farmer curious or a son born a farmer?

Are the boys who are light in the loafers getting too much airtime?
 
Are these farmers light in the loafers?
 
I don't know what the heck your post is about, except that farmers are really ............... (some group that can't be criticized and they get a lot of air time).

But it took me back to the time you mention with the 5 am farm report. I remember that.
I also remember living in a whiter than white small city in the Midwest. There were no Blacks in the city, not allowed, not against the law just NOT allowed. So we had whites and the only "others" we're Indians and Jews. Indians were considered OK because we killed so many of them. Jews were cool because somebody else had killed so many of them. So who of all the people who lived in the city could be discriminated against and made fun of? Farmers. I kid you not. Farm kids in high school were totally segregated. They came in on the bus and they left on the bus, so they were never involved in any extracurricular activities. I can remember kids saying, "Oh, he's just a farmer".
Things have changed now, the city has a wide mixture of people, all races and ethnic groups. The first Black in the city was a baby that my high school English teacher adopted.
Kitty
 
I have no loafers.
 
So, this group is prominent in the media... criticising them is a sensitive issue... has Joe become and anti-semite?
 
You know, I should do this more often! Riddles are fun. Next, I can move into a cave...to be alone with my precioussssss....

(I will say that Morgan is wrong.)
 
If you were concerned this post was "easy to misunderstand" then mayhap it should not have been made a riddle. In addition to which riddles are culturally biassed. There is one in the Black Book of Exeter about a cylinder with a hole in the end which dangles beneath the belt. Obviously it's a key, which is fine the days when keys were worn on the belt and had holes in the end.

Still, I shall endeavour to unravel your riddle. We shall assume it isn't a cleverly disguised attack on farm subsidies for the time being.

There must always be at least one in a sitcom, which was no previously so. Well, when I was young the great sitcoms (Blackadder, Only Fools, Red Dwarf...) had no women. But then you are older and foreigner than I. So, thinking to Vintage American sitcoms, Happy Days, Bewitched, Leave it to a Beaver, and the intentional harking back of Everybody Hate Raymond: all have married couples in the centre. Then, come the 90s, all promiscuous singles.

A suspect: sexually liberated young single women.

You think the farmers are mostly decent people but get too much attention. Well, sex sells. You don't want to be called a "farmer-hater". No-one wants to be thought of as a misogynist. The news gives too much prominence the "farmer's" rights. We know they are "-curious".

And what's Brand best known for? Having sex with lots of women.

Yes, it's all clear, sexually adventurous single young bi-curious women are your bete-noir. Blonde ones, I expect. Probably in a dormitory somewhere. Wearing skimpy nightgowns. And oh, they're having a pillow fight, those naughty... er... ahem.

Perhaps it's like chess, or poker. Don't look at the riddle, look at the man behind it. The groups Cannon holds in disfavour. The NSA? Alex Jones' audience? No, probably Libertarians. I haven't noticed a particularly large emphasis on their self-esteem, but I am mercifully distant from them. So yes, on Cannonfire Randian super-villains are always a safe bet.
 
I get it. Does that redeem me from my humiliating idiocy confusing Hayes with Hedges? Aargh!
 
I've unravelled your riddle (your mention of "farmer curious" helped) and I still don't get the point. Why would you go on at such length about this? Do you really think those people get too much airtime? That you can't turn anywhere in society today without hearing about them? That they are too in your face and rubbing you the wrong way? Moreover, why would you advertise such un-self-flattering feelings? What larger point does that serve? Do you honestly think they are holding back the revolution with the disproportionate attention they get? Even the link to the article on RB doesn't say what you say it says. I agree that it's absurd to expect the Left to be led only by transgendered people of color, but no one in the article is saying that RB has no right to speak just because he's not gay! Maybe the point of all this should be that other groups (evangelists, bankers, "our troops"...) have had the luxury of media overexposure for years already, so when another such group emerges, they're just taking their rightful place? Who knows, maybe RB-style radicals will be next, and in a few years you'll be writing about how sick you are of the glittery, long-haired, pirate-bedecked revolutionaries dominating the airwaves and keeping you from watching your Geritol ads. Best of luck to you!
 
Russell Brand is conspicuously not an idiot; therefor, he must be marginalized.
 
I think SM has a good guess, but I think he's wrong.
I slept on this Joseph and I think you're talking about gays.
Can't get away from the meme and can't say anything about them except how wonderful they are. I have gay friends who opted out of the "movement" because they felt like things as opposed to human beings.

BTW, Russell Brand sucks. I've never clicked on anything about him on the web because he's so fucking creepy looking. Probably a gate keeper or just a distraction, whether he knows it or not. He speaks against capitalism, well, except his own. How many millions is that guy worth. Here's some real woo in regard RB, some "astrologers" (oh my god I used that word on your blog) suggest he will be bumped off in December.
Kitty
 
Oh, I was way off. It's about really happy people.
 
I confused Chris Hedges with Chris Floyd.

I don't think it's gays. No, surely women, or possibly voters. I've known feminists to say you shouldn't talk about women's issues unless you're a woman. I've heard that those who abstain from voting can't complain. Gays don't seem to say such things.

Russell Brand isn't funny, and I find him to be excessively vulgar and indulgent. More of a Jack Dee man. Frankie Boyle. The best humour is dour humour, not dandyish surrealism. No Mighty Boosh for me.
 
I live in a college town, the home of a prestigious college the students of which have been taught all their lives that they matter and they will run the world some day. In monitoring social activist issues I get the strong impression that somebody is trying to convince these kids that all they need to do is be nice to "farmers" and then they will have completely fulfilled their obligation to make the world a better place. Of course most of the "farmers" feel that way too.


 
I had no problem figuring out what you were writing about here Joseph, and am more than a little surprised that others weren't able to (though I could see why our friends across the pond might not be able to follow your analogy).

In any case, I agree completely. The Brand article wasn't exactly related, but I think it does point to the fact that so many lefties get overly consumed with their own little pet issues that they miss the forest for the trees. The LGBT etc. folks are definitely in this category. Do they not realize that the equal rights they are fighting for are not really that great to begin with, and are being curtailed by the day as they waste time fighting for the last scraps of freedom left to us in this country? I guess not. I have two very good friends, who are married to each other, both female. I attended their wedding and love them both. However, their compete and utter focus on LGBT etc. issues is a bit dumbfounding to me. It took them 5 years to realize Obama is just another corporate shill who uses their issue as a way to hoodwink them into thinking he really cares about them. So yeah, I think you make excellent points here.

As to Russel Brand, I normally couldn't care less about the guy. He doesn't interest me and I've never really understood how he became so famous. However, I can't applaud him enough for airing the things he did to a huge audience on a mainstream news show. It makes no difference who he is, if people are paying attention to what he actually said and it was getting a lot of play outside of that one show, it should have been taken as an opportunity to push the issue and get it out there EVEN MORE. But no, it just because a reason to bitch and moan about Russel Brand, basically adding to his celebrity and upping his profile, rather than the profile of the things he said. People are stupid like that, particularly lefties.
 
goddamn farmers from India destroyed British Bhangra bands with their lyrics about tractors and how the village life is far superior than city life. Never mind the fact that in doing so they bring out all these medieval outdated racist views.

They call the earth their mother, yet they make money off of their mother, what kind of sons of soil are these.

The lowly farmer, we were better off as Nomads
 
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