Love it or hate it, it’s hard not to notice the new Antony Gormley sculpture that’s been plonked in the centre of campus. And that’s the issue.
Professor Eric Cross, Dean of Cultural Affairs said: “The scale of this striking work and its prominent position will create a new focal point on campus, and give an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with others and our environment.” Now this isn’t about whether I personally enjoy it or not. I just find it tasteless that these rusting blocks are being considered such an important ‘focal point’ on campus while the Martin Luther King statue has been hidden away in a courtyard.
And I won’t have any ‘art vs history’ debates either. I love art. Art is history’s twin, two sides of a coin. But context is important, and highlighting certain things over others is not meaningless. In the context of the Gormley and Martin Luther statues at least, I think the Art on Campus programme have got their priorities seriously wrong.
Seeing comedian Hannah Gadsby on last week’s QI had me thinking about, and re-watching, her hilarious yet harrowing stand-up show Nanette this week. As a queer woman I can’t stress how much her rejection of comedy as a coping mechanism has helped me heal from my own painful experiences. A joke, she says, is a setup and a punchline: “I’ve wrapped up my stories in punchlines for too long.”
Gadsby unpicks the nature of self-deprecation and reveals it as the toxic mechanism that it is, at least in the case of those already stigmatised. Never before has a stand-up show made me cry and made me reflect on my own psychology. Ironically, she says “I do comedy because it’s low-brow, nobody leaves this a better person”, and yet she’s given us a glimpse of what comedy could be; a place to laugh but also a place to be honest about what we struggle with, a place where it’s less controversial to be vulnerable. I think she’s changed the nature of comedy for the better, and I love her for that.
If you’re on Twitter you’ll have seen it. One of Piers Morgan’s desperate grabs for attention, that is. They’re becoming more farcical by the day, and his latest tweet about Daniel Craig is just his latest bid for controversy. Surely he doesn’t really think that Daniel Craig, in all his sporty gear and with his equally sporty body, carrying a baby, is emasculating? Is looking after a child not…peak masculinity? Is he meant to lug the child like a rugby ball? I don’t get it.
Why are men expected to absent from child rearing? Anyone with a healthy relationship with their dad will have had them very much involved from the beginning. I don’t think there’s anything more ‘masculine’ than a man looking after his children. For a man who regularly obsesses and admonishes women like Emily Ratajowski and Kim Kardashian for being ‘attention whores’, I think he’s yet to realise who the biggest attention seeker is.