Rather than commending people upon the stuff they’ve done, perhaps we should start giving out awards for those individuals who’ve not done stuff – those who have resisted the temptation of ‘selling out’ or losing integrity in favour of… something else. After all, John and Yoko didn’t “stay in bed” or “grow their hair”, as their lyrics suggest: they just didn’t get up and didn’t get haircuts. The bed-in was about inaction rather than action.
In today’s paper, I read about Kiran Desai: daughter of Anita Desai and winner of this year’s Man-Booker Prize for fiction. Ms. Desai’s work is importantly Indian: “rediscovering her Indian-ness,” writes the paper, “was vital to her success”.
Then why would she accept a Man-Booker Prize: an award which even this article remarks has “Colonialist Connotations?”
“Someone said to me, ‘Will you turn down the Booker prize because it is a commonwealth prize?’ And I said ‘I’m not crazy!’ It’s also a hedge fund, so you have big-business qualms about that. There’s all kinds of reasons to turn it down.”
Yet she still accepted it. This doesn’t make me want to buy or read her book. This just smacks of a lack of integrity. I remember thinking the same when Sanjeev Bhaskar accepted an OBE last year. If these dudes had any respect for their own work, they’d do a Benjamin Zephaniah and tell ’em where to stick their awards.
Yet I sit here wracking my brains for examples of commendible things that people have not done.
I’ve personally managed to resist the networking opportunity of adopting a MySpace page. You should all love and respect me for that. MySpace is owned by the News Corporation, the managing director of which is media shitbag, Rupert Murdoch. That’s all the reason I need not to have a MySpace page.
Kiran Desai, when asked why she didn’t refuse the Man-Booker, says:
“Because you can drag that ethical dilemma into every single aspect of your life – and that is very much what my book is about. You are unable to make any kind of rule, really, without it being messy and mixed up with the rest of the world, and mixed up with sad and difficult things. Would I buy this sweater? Where is it made? It’s by someone poor in China and someone horrible is making money out of it. Am I going to eat this bit of fruit picked by whom? It infects every single thing. But I stand by the book’s ethical sense, and it’s a book that certainly says the opposite of many things that flags stand for.””
Wow. It’s as though the slow movement never happened. Such egocentric thinking is what messes stuff up for so many people. You don’t have to do a bunch of stuff in order to save the world. It’s what you don’t do that counts. Just resist the high-fat crap that floats temptingly through the media, get back to basics and if in doubt – don’t get up and don’t cut your hair.