Sometimes, just sometimes, black is not white

I have a love-hate opinion of Spiked. On the one hand I will accept that it occasionally has good articles which challenge received wisdom. I’m a great fan of iconoclasm. However, there is a difference between iconoclasm and affecting iconoclasm, and all too many of the articles on it are precisely that.

Shirley Dent, for example, doesn’t like all these foolish people liking Jerusalem. Why? Because it is a ‘hymn to wishful thinking’. No it isn’t – it’s about the need to struggle and fight for what you believe in. Okay then, it’s all about ‘looking backwards’. Again, she appears to have only bothered reading the first verse.

James Heartfield meanwhile, doesn’t like the statue of Alison Lapper unveiled in Trafalgar Square this week. This is because it ‘creates a tension between what we are supposed to think, and what we really feel’. Which, erm, I thought was precisely the point. His argument appears to be a mirror of Shirley Dent’s – public art shouldn’t force us to think or confront our prejudices, it should just be something we take for granted. Worse, apparently the production of a statue of a woman who is both disabled AND pregnant is simply too confusing for the delicate flower to bear.

In fact, Heartfield’s article pretty much convinces me of the validity of Marc Quinn’s work. My favourite line though is this:

Though the choice of subject seems controversial, there has been surprisingly little opposition, just the manufacture of ‘controversy’.

If Spiked does nothing else, it delights in manufacturing controversy wherever it can. To complain about something else doing the same smacks of a distinct lack of self-awareness.

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