I haven’t watched this weeks, I liked last weeks, but I think the response to it is interesting. We have grasped this show as a sign that some lost working class culture can be rediscovered, somehow we can be shown to have pride in our culture again. Like we ever stopped. What is on that show is a life that left, it passed generations ago. Not just because of deindustralisation. We didn’t grow up wanting to work in factories and mines, and even if Thatcher had let them stand, we wouldn’t have wanted the life we saw.
I am writing a piece at the moment which I am enjoying, looking at the surprising things that have sprung up from the people I grew up with. Radio stations, festivals, magazines, nights that attract thousands, musicians, djs, writers…. My friends create quite a reciprocal culture, we don’t treat people like shit, we are quite supportive of each other, we don’t really like people who are twats, we are a tiny group in a complex, fluid and changing culture that cannot be defined with the words ‘working class’, or any of the other terms bandied around to make an entire society into a digestible soundbite.
I sometimes think the problem is not that working class culture was lost, but that we grew past mainstream media being able to appropriate it, package it and sell it back to us. In an age with so many ways to make your own media. The problem is not that the working class desperately need the mainstream media to provide us with an identity, they can market to, the problem is that we look at the mainstream media openmouthed, thinking what the fuck happened? We can do better and the tools are ours.
Defining an entire class by work in an economy defined by insecure work, debt, and welfare, is a politicians wet dream. It just doesn’t translate to reality, and while our mainstream media is desperately seeking a version of working class that fits with their illusions, their tools are being democratised and that class they cannot find may be right behind them….