Old on a minute

Ali G's language, complaining crumblies and nu-metal goes soft.

Ray Crowley

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Topics Politics

The ‘Oh it’s so offensive’ brigade had a field day when Ali G was allowed on live radio this week.

Ali (aka comedian Sacha Baron-Cohen) made a name for himself on the 11 O’Clock Show by making jokes about cannabis, ‘batty boys’ and using terms like punani and motherfucker. He shocked the nation during BBC Radio 1’s Breakfast Show on Monday by…making jokes about cannabis, ‘batty boys’ and using terms like punani and motherfucker.

Pseudo-ladette dj Sara Cox immediately fell over herself to apologise to her audience, adding the additional pearl of wisdom, like ‘It’s not big or clever to say swear words like that’ (you gotta say ’em like dis). And I thought Radio 1 was trying to portray a new hip trendy image? Ali G only came on the radio and behaved like Ali G.

It’s not just Radio 1 listeners who have been offended this week. I also heard on the radio that UK pensioners are planning a rebellion against the use of the term ‘OAP’. Wow, I thought, rebellion – I didn’t think old people did anything more active than stroke cats, make tea and ask ‘are you a vegetarian, dear?’ 10,000 times. But this is serious – apparently prejudice such as mine is really widespread and needs to be challenged.

The Norwich Union survey in question showed that of 365 old people asked, three quarters found the term ‘OAP’ patronising. So what will it be replaced with? Apparently, the most popular suggestions so far include SWELS (seniors with energetic lifestyles), veteran, seasoned and vintage. ‘Blue rinse brigade’ and ‘tomb dodger’ don’t sound so bad after all.

My aunt is turning 60 this year, and I was going to ask her opinion on the subject, but she was too busy organising her birthday party to answer the phone. She’s called it the ‘Pensioners’ bash’, and plans it to be a riotous affair with not a drop of tea in sight. I think because she has a life, unlike the complaining crumblies in this survey, she couldn’t care less if you called her pensioner or just old bag. One up for ‘grey power’, as she calls it.

Anyway, is it really so damning to get labelled pensioner? The study said the likes of Dot Cotton on EastEnders give old people a bad name. Well, at least Dot just got married. Imagine having your generation represented by some of the younger characters – like Janine, who’s had sex in exchange for drugs, or Sonia, who doesn’t realise she’s pregnant until she is fully dilated.

Not that it’s easy being young and rebellious these days, either, when your favourite band keep turning up in respectable newspapers. Said band Slipknot are a scary mask-clad nine-piece, infamous for their bad behaviour and appalling music. The band’s lead singer was quoted in The Times last Monday describing a concert as being ‘like you have 7000 fans around for tea’, and talking about how he gave up drugs after being found half-naked in a rubbish bin. I wish Slipknot did still wee on each other and throw animal carcasses around on stage. At least that would compensate for the terrible racket they make.

Once upon a time, going to a gig was all about getting drunk, crowd-surfing and putting your head through the polystyrene ceiling panels in the toilets in Brixton Academy (it wasn’t me, it was my friend). Now nu-metal is reviewed in the Guardian and Slipknot are called ‘sweet home-lovin’ chaps’ in the Independent (2).

(1) UK pensioners reject use of OAP, Ananova, 18 February 2002

(2) Independent, 19 February 2002

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