Tag Archives: health and safety

Mad Men: health and safety porn for the disinfected noughties

I’ve just finished watching the third episode of Mad Men over on BBC Four. It hasn’t gripped me yet I have to say, but one thing that is starting to bug me is, well, the smokespoitation (a word I thought I’d made up but apparently haven’t). Yes it’s okay, I do get that everyone smoked in the 60s. Even in the office. Even pregnant women. That anti-smoking guy who hangs outside all the party conferences every year shouting at people must be doing his nut.

But it isn’t just the smoking. In general, it is one big fetish fest for everything they did in the 60s that we now consider dangerous. This is all very well, and factually accurate, but do they really have to signal everything with such great big neon signs stating “LOOK PUNY NOUGHTIES-ERA VIEWER! WATCH US TAKE MINIMAL CONCERN FOR OUR HEALTH AND SAFETY AND QUIVER WITH REPULSION AND DESIRE! BWAA-HAH-HAH-HAAAH!” Last week it was children running around with plastic bags over their heads and rolling around in the bag seat of a car with no safety belt during a crash. This week we’ve had extreme drink driving and a kid being slapped across the face. We aren’t talking subtle here.

The problem is, combine that with the rest of the sixties Americana – the cine film camera, the hats, the rampant sexism, et al – and there isn’t much left. This week’s episode in particular just felt like two episodes jammed together. The subplot about the main character’s wife’s unidentified illness (MS?) was all but forgotten. They’ve spent so much time and energy recreating a period (albeit very much from a contemporary perspective) that plot-wise it seems to be little more than a run of the mill soap.

Pigs 1, Goths 0 (UPDATE)

The two most read articles on BBCi today give us a fascinating insight into where Britain’s collective head is at.

First of all we have the goth couple who have been banned from the bus because he insists on leading her on a lead. There are two issues here. First of all the bus company are surely only being responsible to ban them on health and safety grounds – the inherent dangers are quite obvious. Secondly, while what people do behind closed doors is fine by me, it is fascinating to compare this issue with the ongoing controversy over Muslim dress codes.

There is much public anxiety these days about Burqas (which I don’t see around anything like as much as I did a couple of years ago – anyone else notice this?) and other forms of Muslim dress. Would we have the same anxiety if like “Dani” and “Tasha” (guffaw!) they merely defined it as a form of sexual expression?

Is it really, as I fear some of my readers may accuse me, illiberal and prejudiced to suggest the two simply grow up, get a life and stop shoving their crass faux radicalism down our figurative throats? Where is the fine line between pointing out that people are making arses out of themselves and celebrating self-expression? Answers on a postcard (well, in the comments below) please.

Meanwhile, a retelling of the Three Little Pigs has been banned from a competition because it apparently is offensive to both Muslims and builders. In the case of the latter, I’m not sure if any retelling of the story can really avoid portraying them in a good light, unless the story is changed so that the houses made of straw and sticks end up meeting the latest tough EU building directives. I wonder if this sudden concern for the portrayal of the construction industry has anything to do with the current domination of Eastern Europeans of it in the UK? Should we all be talking it up with a view to establishing a new generation of eager young British labourers? Maybe studying Auf Weidersehen, Pet should be made compulsory on the national curriculum? Perhaps Bob the Builder should be monumented on the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square?

But I digress. As I’ve blogged before, in what way are piggies offensive to Muslims? Just because I don’t eat horses, it doesn’t mean I think Black Beauty should be banned. I don’t seem to ever hear Muslims objecting to it either; only people claiming to speak “for” them. I think I need this carefully explained to me, preferably with diagrams, but apparently doing so would be “culturally insensitive” so I fear it won’t happen.

UPDATE: Okay, mea culpa. I’ve read a couple of alternative accounts of the goth incident and while my views on the couple themselves haven’t changed, my defence of the bus driver in question certainly was misplaced. Everyone has a right to get on a bus without being abused, verbally or physically.

Sadly, Tasha herself though doesn’t exactly come out of this well: “I am a pet, I generally act animal like and I lead a really easy life. I don’t cook or clean and I don’t go anywhere without Dani. It might seem strange but it makes us both happy. It’s my culture and my choice. It isn’t hurting anyone.” Sounds like low self-esteem to me. Since Mat wants to bark Mill at me, I will refer him to this. You really think I’m the one enslaving people by conformity?