Thursday, July 26, 2012
Blog # 22 Cutting the Mustard
In blog #one I stated that I don’t need to rant. I lied—I do—but only occasionally and only if it’s done properly.
In my solicitous opinion there’s nothing wrong with a good rant, it’s a healthy way to discharge frustration, and allow our compressed psyches a chance to release the weight of everyday irritation.
A ‘good’ rant is not repetitive, or sloppy or whiny, it’s not obvious and it definitely isn’t dull. It is, an impassioned plea delivered with humour, perceptiveness and a healthy pinch of self-mockery.
One of the best rants I ever heard was in the English TV series Coupling, where a character who was being dragged around a department store by his girlfriend who wanted him to have an opinion about which sofa they should buy, suddenly launched into a two minute diatribe about “the uselessness of cushions”. The language was beautifully conceived, ludicrously obsessive and very funny.
For me, easy subjects don’t count as rant material. Raging at greedy corporations, callus politicians, racism, sexism, drug and gun peddlers, and even people who drive while using cell phones is not ranting it is merely exorcising a social necessity.
A rant needs to find its moment. It helps if good food and alcohol are involved and it needs to be delivered while those around are receptive. Every year we teach a workshop in Spain and if the occasion warrants it I introduce ‘The Rant’ as one of our class exercises. It’s truly amazing how much artistic energy can be released once everyone has liberated a pet peeve.
So, what do I consider ranting material?
Here are a few offers, rantish samples of openings salvos possibly worthy of expanding upon. Please feel free to take up the baton:
*At what point did it become, not just okay, but the norm to make chip packets bloated with 90% air and 10% chips? Why do we put up with it? Why don’t we simply go around liberating the air from the bags so the companies that perpetrate this cynical and ridiculous facade get the message that we want chips and not large packets of nothingness.
*I know that many teenagers suffer dreadfully because friend’s parents always give their children so much more (money and rope) and that they are dreadfully misunderstood, but maybe this misunderstanding comes from the fact that a good number of them have given up on language. If I get stuck next to one more ‘conversation’ between two young girls where the word ‘like’ is used six or seven times in a sentence of ten words I promise I will call forth the ghost of Will Shakespeare to render their tongues numb and void.
*Why have weather forecasters started “calling” for rain, or sun or anything else for that matter. I thought they’d developed a very expensive science, not a form of spirit worship.
*Am I so badly out of touch that I’ve misunderstood the job of newsreaders. I thought they were there for the important purpose of passing on the news. Why then do they gather in clusters giggling and talking about each others clothes and why is it that when they hand over to someone doing an outside broadcast that person then has to tell us their name both before and after they have delivered the trite morsel that’s clearly an annoying distraction from their camera time?
*And last, but not least, can someone please explain to me why it is OK to promote the sale of automatic weapons, feed kids with so much crap they turn into gigantic dumplings, let big pharmacy sell the country on illnesses invented in a marketing meeting...but we can’t see a nipple on TV incase the whole world descends into a pit of depravity?