That Godfrey Bloom, he’s such a card, isn’t he? Yet another ever-reliable rent-a-bigot, always on hand to say the unsayable, PC zealots be damned. Honest to a fault (except when he’s joking — why can’t this hostile press tell when he’s joking?), he’s a breath of fresh air. A less successful Boris Johnson, he’s put the 1970s sitcom back into UK politics. Hurrah! And now UKIP’s loss will no doubt be I’m A Celebrity and The Wright Stuff’s gain.
I ought not to be bothered about the likes of Godfrey Bloom and their pathetic non-jokes, designed to offend the Guardian-reading PC elite, and yet I am. Partly this is because I’m part of said elite, obviously, but I’m not totally deluded about how these things work. I know when someone’s just trying to get attention — I live with a four-year-old, after all. But this, I find, is the most annoying thing about it all. There’s such a pressure to be wise to the Blooms of this world, to raise an eyebrow and say with practised resignation “oh look, the bongo bongo bloke’s at it again”.
Bloom tells us that “all the women laughed” when he made his wannabe-infamous “slut” comment. Well, yes. That’s what they would do, not just because those who are willing to be in the same room as Godfrey Bloom are a special type of women. Laughing at bigoted crap is what the targets of bigots often do. It’s part of how discriminatory power structures work. The “joke” itself is a statement that you don’t matter. God forbid the likes of you then risk causing social embarrassment or appearing humourless by not responding in the way the joker would like.
This might sound as though I’m over-analysing a dull sexist quip, but believe me, it’s only because I’m at home with the time and space to do so. If I’d been in the room with Bloom I’d have done one of those half-laugh/half-grimace expressions too. You see these a lot on Mock The Week, when they close in torturously on the token female comedian’s face after the men have made yet another rampantly offensive comment. I think of it as the will-she-won’t-she laugh moment, where the viewer gets to decide whether said comedian is really welcome in the boys’ club or is just another uptight bitch (the camera then pans to Dara O’Briain, chuckling in a moderate “gotta admit it’s funny but let’s be reasonable, chaps” way and you can once again forget the woman’s there at all).
This is the double bind the likes of Bloom and Boris Johnson and every other cuddly bigot creates. Responding in a mature, non-angry, bless-him, I’m-laughing-at-him-not-with-him way is just another crappy pressure placed on the targets of their non-humour. It’s just not fair. It dilutes the impact of what’s really being said. Laughing at Godfrey Bloom doesn’t give you power over him. Treating him with the contempt he deserves just might.