Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

I have a sort of fascination with Boy George, just because he was born on exactly the same day as me, 14th June 1961, just a few miles away from where I was born. He represents an alternative reality for me where I might have made different choices, and had different talents.

The picture that has come across during his recent trial is of a lonely and bewildered character, whose life has ironically been ruined by success in our shallow celebrity soaked culture.

His self-destruction is a sad reflection of how our society has no shared values and common sense of purpose, and if all you care about is selfishness and hedonism, then how can anyone who submits to those dysfuntional ambitions ever be really happy?

19 comments on “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

  1. Все время думал,что это мужеподобная женщина, а оказалось наоборот, женоподобный мужчина.

  2. Passing Leftie on said:

    Wasn’t the 1960s supposed to be the same era of “selfishness and hedonism” ?

    Why are the 2000s so different?

  3. According to my very rusty Russian, #1 means “I always thought that this was a masculine woman, but it turns out I was wrong and it’s an effeminate man”.

    The question is, is it a porn spam link or a comment on the photo?

  4. Inigo Montoya on said:

    “our society has no shared values and common sense of purpose”

    Jesus, Andy, it must suck to be you. I know you’ve swung right pretty hard but now you’re a hair’s breadth from Maggie Thatcher. You need to wake up and smell the coffee my boy!

  5. mark anthony france on said:

    I want a society with “shared values and a common sense of purpose”. Boy George started of like all of us…. now look at him on trial… for Shackling up and beating a young man with a chain in Shoreditch…His defence seems to centre on his feelings that his ‘privacy’ was invaded. But I understand from the media that the young man was in his home as a paid sex industry worker. Whatever happened I do not feel that imprisoning, humiliating and beating this young man was justified in anyway.

    #5 inigo montoya… Andy posts a item on Boy George and you just use it to accuse him of being ‘a hair’s breadth away from Maggie Thatcher.’ Has it not occurred to you that Andy wants to see a ‘society’ with shared socialist values of compassion, decency, hard work, truth, justice, peace, equality, democracy. A society with a common purpose is precisely what we need in the face of the Recesson…. yet some ‘socialists’ even in the face of a Gobal Crisis seem incapable of RESPECTING each other.

  6. #5

    A very odd thing about these SWP numpties who comment here, like Inigo Montoya. It was never the SWP’s tradition to constantly mock other socialists who are not quite as left wing as them,. and yet that is all they do here.

    In any event Inigo is a bit of a fool to say this. Thatcher is the one who celebrated the lack of common purpose – she is the one who coined the phrase “there is no such thing as society”.

    And this – in reply to #2 – is what is different between the 1960s and 2000s. In the 1960s there was still a largely dominant social democratic narrative, and a belief that we were collectyivley making a better society. Everyne beleived that their children would have a better life than they did.

    What we have now is an epidemic of unhappiness, as documented in layard’s book “happiness” [Penguin Books, London 2005.] he writes: “A society cannot flourish without some sense of shared purpose. The current pursuit of self-realisation will not work. If your sole duty is to achieve the best for yourself, life becomes just too stressful, too lonely – you are set up to fail”.

    As quoted i the brilliant pamphlet “Feelbad brotain” by Devine et al: http://www.hegemonics.co.uk/docs/feelbad-britain.pdf

    Layard’s group at the London School of Economics observed that “crippling depression and chronic anxiety are the biggest causes of misery in Britain today”,3 with one in six so suffering. This is the view not only of this one group. You can tell a lot about a society from the health of its children.
    According to another appraisal, there are “sharply rising rates of depression and behavioural problems among under-17s. This year, the British Medical Association reported that more than 10% of 11- to 16-year-olds have a mental disorder sufficiently serious to affect their daily lives. At any one time, a million children are experiencing problems ranging from depression to violence and self-harm. What is truly sobering is how abruptly these problems have arisen. The incidence of depression in children was almost flat from the 1950s until the ‘70s. A steep rise began in that decade, doubling by the mid-80s, and doubling again since. The rises have affected both sexes and all classes, although children in the poorest
    households are three times as likely as wealthy ones to be affected.”

    Now in my old fashioned view, it should be the job of socialists to try to understand the real prpblems of society, the actually existing ideologogy and political views especially of the working class, and to try to plan collective political action to improve things.

  7. Benjamin on said:

    His self-destruction is a sad reflection of how our society has no shared values and common sense of purpose, and if all you care about is selfishness and hedonism…

    He hasn’t self-destructed.

  8. The power of the cult of celebrity shows when the celebrity wrongfully imprisons someone he has bought for sex and assaults them yet it is the celebrity who is the focus of empathy.

  9. #11
    Eddie: “The power of the cult of celebrity shows when the celebrity wrongfully imprisons someone he has bought for sex and assaults them yet it is the celebrity who is the focus of empathy.”

    I agree with that and I would also say that it exposes the power relationships that exist in this society.

  10. #8
    “The incidence of depression in children was almost flat from the 1950s until the ‘70s. A steep rise began in that decade, doubling by the mid-80s, and doubling again since. The rises have affected both sexes and all classes, although children in the poorest”

    I would also want to question the validity of the incidents of depression in children from the 50s until the 70s. Almost flat? Was depression actually recognised in children in those periods? So how could it be reported properly if mental health issues were not understood properly in relation to children? I think the rise is to do with recognition as before the true state of mental distress in kids was hidden.
    Are we living in worst times now? There have been shifts and changes in society. Yes, society has become more atomised along with the impact of neo-liberalism but what about the staid repressed 1950s were women knew their places etc? The demands made and the gains won by social and political uprisings that pushed for liberation and equality. Yes, it is not perfect but frankly i prefer to be a woman living in 2008 than 1958.

  11. Louise: #14 “I think the rise is to do with recognition as before the true state of mental distress in kids was hidden.”

    I am not sure you are right about that Louise, although it is a very sensible point you raise. And we shoudl always be cautious about projecting current understanding back intio the past.

    The 2006 report from the British Medical Association’s board of science “Child and Adolescent Mental Health” took into account increasing recognition of mental distress in childhood, and concluded that the increase was a substantive one, not an increase of reporting.

    According to the Guardian, when the report was published:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/jun/21/mentalhealth.health

    Professor Skuse, who is professor of behavioural and brain science at the Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street, London, said: “There does appear to have been a real increase over time which isn’t due to increased recognition. There was around a 50% increase between the early 70s and mid 80s, and another 50% since the mid-80s in conduct disorders in boys.”
    The report notes that poorer children, asylum-seeker youngsters, those in care and those who had seen domestic violence were particularly susceptible to mental health problems, but, said Prof Skuse, the rise in emotional and conduct disorders had occurred “across the board”.
    He said: “It’s something that affects children as a whole.” The risk might increase with family break-ups but the problems could be linked to housing changes, or diet or alcohol abuse, he said.

    Important issues relate to the more sedentary lifestyle, greater levels of childhood obesity, and general negative social perception of young people, combined with the commercialisation of childhood.

    In particular Professor Skuse’s work deals with highly observable conduct disorders, such as anorexia in girls and fighting in boys, and it is these behaviour disorders that have shown a very marked increase.

    Credible research shows that junk food diets also have significant effects on children’s behaviour, concentration, learning ability and mood. Children with diets lacking in essential vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids tend to perform worse academically, may be unable to concentrate and may be more aggressive.

    there is a growing consensus that materialist attitudes are linked with a decline in psychological well-being.

    I am sorry that some socialists find this risible, but my aspiration for a fairer society is also one where there is more community spirit, more collectivity and cooperation, and less competitive individualism.

  12. Behind these stats there are wide philosophical questions to be had about how individuals relate to society. And they are complex issues. Kids, for instance, will pick up the stresses of everyday life from parents and family.

    If it was flat in the 1950s it suggests it wasn’t being picked up. DV, child abuse, family/relationship breakdown (divorce being hard and the social pressures attached to it), sexism, repression, shame, bullying, racism and if you’re gay…your sexuality was criminalised!

    Much of this still exists today but these isn’t the same head f*ck represssion, social and political movements challenged these assumptions and restrictions. Yes, the patterns are different and I accept that we live in a more alienating society. But it shows that the contradictions that exist in a capitalist society are being exposed.

  13. I am sympathetic to what you are saying Louise, but not sure where you are coming from.

    I agree the 1950s were stultifyingly conformist, but we shoudl be able to find a way to live that is better than both that, and also better than the individualist consumerism we have today.

  14. The Holy Quran has a lot to offer this confused young man. Islam welcomes him and offers him the dignity that his lifestyle has so far denied him.