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January 04, 2006

In Praise of Viz - the voice of modern, compassionate conservatism

Posted by Harry Phibbs

Harry Phibbs extols the virtues of Viz. The magazine allows us to: "laugh at the new ruling class of self righteous public sector officials and [it is] an effective way of keeping them in check."

There is a defence of political correctness that it is really simply a matter of good manners. Of sensitivity. Of avoiding needless offence. Certainly Viz magazine, a magazine largely consisting of strip cartoons aimed at adults, is ill mannered as well as politically incorrect. It surely must have a higher ratio of swear words that any other journal published in the English language and pours scorn on an array of minority groups and progressive middle class orthodoxies.

Mind you the working class come in for plenty of stick as well. Looking at the current issue, number 151, one finds that Sid the Sexist, still has a place of honour at the front of the journal. Straplined "Tyneside's silver tongued cavalier" our Geordie hero jets off to Spain (on "SqueezyJet") with a group of friends for a stag weekend. Soon they manage to find an English Pub and then march through the streets chanting:

Geordie Boys! We are here. Shagged your woman and we drank your beer.
One of them reflects:
Hey. I'm glad wuz've come 'ere fo' yer bit stag neet. It meks a canny change from just gannin' round the bigg market like every other fuckin Freyder neet.
The upper classes don't escape either with a strip entiled Raffles: The Gentleman Thug.

The column entitled Student Grant teasing our pretentious and idle undergraduates, appears to have been dropped. Often the targets chosen for being mocked - TV producers, trendy vicars, social workers, etc - are well chosen. One defence of this discourtesy is that the targets themselves might benefit from it. Those mocked for naive or mushy thinking might, if stung by the criticism, try to think a little harder.

Old Britain as well as New Britain provides the odd target. There is a character called Major Misunderstanding, who holds forth with a reactionary tirade on an unrelated matter when he comes into contact with a member of the public making a harmless enquiry. For instance when he is sitting on a park bench and a tourist approaches holding an unfolded map, Major Misunderstanding thunders:

I'll smoke where I damn well please, sir. This is still a free country. Churchill smoked this brand I suppose you'd tell him to stop as well. Call yourself a true Englishman. You're nothing but a jumped up little jobsworth. Well I'm not intimidated by your sort. You can wave those rules and regulations at me all you like. I shall continue with my walk, enjoying my cheroot.
My fellow Social Affairs Unit contributor Rev'd Peter Mullen has used a sermon at St Michael's, Cornhill to extol the virtues of Viz. Mullen announced:
I have often from this pulpit recommended to you suitable spiritual reading. May I today draw your attention to the admirable magazine called Viz?
Mullen pointed out the cartoon Modern Parents as an example of how not to bring up children:
These creepy, empty-headed trendies have a son who is not merely allowed to do exactly as he likes but in a perfect state of satanic permissiveness is compelled to do as he likes. This is child-abuse of the worst sort. No landmarks. No boundaries. Ultimately, therefore, no understanding of good and bad.
The current issue includes a glossy 2006 calendar. The scene for February is of nineteenth century workmen wielding hammers at machinery. One of them cries producing a multi hammered contraption:
Hang on mates. It'll take you ages to destroy that by hand. My Knacking Elspeth will do the work of ten Luddites in half the time.
Viz is not all comic strips. There are spoof news pages, spoof problem pages, a top tips column, a spoof correspondence column, spoof pornographic advertising (or is it real?) The top tips column was lifted by McDonald's who used a couple in their advertising campaign some years ago. One was:
Save a fortune on laundry bills. Give your dirty shirts to a second-hand shop. They'll wash and iron them and then you can buy them back for 50p.
Another was:
Don't waste money buying expensive binoculars. Simply stand closer to the object you wish to view.
Often real people pop up. The Poet Laureate Andrew Motion is summoned to see The Queen and ordered to write a poem because she has decided to have an extra birthday as a mechanism for
getting lots more posh presents.
Bono, the singer from U2, finds he has forgotten his hat just before he is due to address an international conference on the environment. He sends a flunkey back home on a plane to collect it.

I have tended to cite jokes in Viz which I find funny. There is plenty of material that is unfunny - usually where there is no actual joke, simply the shock value of swearing or revulsion relying on somebody being depicted as very fat, or violent, or going to the lavatory.

If one is prepared to wade through all this dross, however, there are some gems. It is both a relief to laugh at the new ruling class of self righteous public sector officials, and an effective way of keeping them in check.

Harry Phibbs is a journalist.

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The work of ten Luddites in half the time. I choke with laughter.

Posted by: staghounds at January 18, 2006 06:14 PM

Harry Phibbs is a journalist?

Sounds like a Viz character!

Posted by: Confused? at March 24, 2006 12:07 AM
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