Posts Tagged ‘John Selwyn Gummer’

Vox Political: Judge Dredd Takes on Benefit Sanctions

April 2, 2015

Earlier today I posted a piece about reports by ITV and the Belfast Telegraph that 2000 AD were planning to pit Mega City One’s toughest lawman against Nigel Farage in the satirical guise of the politician ‘Bilious Barrage’. Assuming that wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, this looks like a good one to look forward to.

A few days ago, Mike posted this piece Art imitates life: Coalition ‘welf’ policies get comic-book treatment, about a Judge Dredd story in which the good Judge meets a disabled man, who has been refused food rations because the authorities have decided that after waiting six hours in a queue, he is well enough to work. After complaining about his treatment, the man is further wrongly accused of malingering by an insurance salesman he had turned down. Mike’s article begins

Sometimes, when you’re a blogger, an article comes along when you think you’re doing something else – for example, catching up on a little light reading.

Yes, even hard-nosed political bloggers like This Writer have to kick back and have a little ‘me’ time now and then – in this case, with the Judge Dredd Megazine, issue 356, dated February 17, 2015.

In the lead story ‘The Cop’, we see title character Judge Dredd’s domain – the Mega City One of a future North America – struggling to cope with the effects of a disaster. Already you can see parallels with the Great Recession of 2007 onwards.

Citizens are encouraged to help clear damage from buildings, making them usable again, in return for food rations. No effort – no food. This is actually described in the story as a ‘Work Programme’!

Then the story focuses in on “those adults who are unable to work”; one such person is thrust out of the line of workers by a classic bully-type character. Ordered to explain what’s going on, the character – clearly in bad shape, his body withered and weak – states that he has a condition in which half his body doesn’t function properly. He explains that he reported for ‘disability testing’ (a Work Capability Assessment).

“I waited six hours an’ then they told me to come down here!” the pitiful creature, named Carmody, explains. “Said if I could wait that long, it meant it couldn’t be that bad–”

Mike goes on to consider the parallels thrown up by the strip with IDS’ chequebook euthanasia, and the way the Neoliberals have stirred up hatred and a mob mentality against anyone they dub a ‘scrounger’. And Mike’s got the stats to show how often that term’s been used. He also notes that, like the insurance salesman, the Tories have also tried to introduce private health insurance.

He concludes by saying

The script for this mini-classic is by Al Ewing. It seems clear that, like another comic scriptwriter called Al – Alan Moore – he knows the score.

It’s one of the great things about the comics counter-culture. It isn’t monitored and censored anything like as heavily as mass cultures like TV.

So comics get to say what people really think.

That’s been true of British comics since the mid-70s, when Pat Mills, John Wagner and their fellow reprobates revived a medium that had become rather stale. They introduced characters and settings drawn from contemporary youth culture. This was extremely controversial. Action, which featured strips based on or strongly influenced by Jaws, Rollerball,Dirty Harry, and contemporary War films, caused a national scandal and was banned because of its violent content. It was succeeded by the thrill-powered 2000 AD, where the violence was made acceptable by being on the side of law and order. The strips were permeated by a strong, satirical edge, in which politicians, industrialists, TV personalities and pop stars were parodied and lampooned. Those who got the treatment included Maggie Thatcher, who turned up in Robo-Hunter as Iron Aggie, John Selwyn Gummer, David Bellamy – who was eaten by an escaped tyrannosaur – and Tony Blair. The Judge Dredd strip also featured a crooked businessman called Remington Ratner, whose surname is the same as a certain jeweller, who managed to bankrupt his business by making a stupid joke at a trade conference. And New Kids on the Block were clearly the inspiration for Mega-City One’s popsters, New Juves on the Block. At its height in the 1980s, 2000 AD was one of the most powerful forces shaping contemporary youth culture.

And its still making very sharp, satirical points. The ABC Warriors strip has run several stories in which its heroes, a group of former robot soldiers bringing justice and law to a violent and chaotic Mars, tell each other stories about their adventures during the Volgan Wars. This was a war between the West, led by America, and Russia, now the Volgan Republic. The War has been sold to its citizens as a defence of democracy against an aggressive dictatorship. The reality is that the West wishes to get its hands on the Volgan’s oil supplies. It’s very clear that Script Robot Mills is making a point about the lies by our governments in the invasion of Iraq.

All I can say is that it’s a pity we can’t get the good judge to round up Cameron, Clegg and co and put them in an iso-cube for a while.

The article can be read at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/03/28/art-imitates-life-coalition-welf-policies-get-comic-book-treatment/

Judge Dredd to Send Farage to the Iso-Cubes? Zarjaz

April 2, 2015

Bilious Barage

Bilious Barrage from the ITV report into the Judge Dredd strip

Borag Thungg, Earthlets, as the Mighty Tharg used to say. Earlier this week Mike posted a story about a recent dig at Iain Duncan Smith’s sanctions regime in the Judge Dredd strip in 2000 AD. In it, Megacity 1’s hardest lawman helps a victim of Ellinson’s Disease, who has been unfairly sanctioned and denied his food ration. The man had been wrongly reported as able to work by an insurance salesman he’d turned down.

Now it seems that the good judge is turning his sights on bigger satirical prey: Nigel Farage. The Belfast Telegraph and ITV.Com have both run articles reporting that the magazine plans to run a story later this year, ‘People Like Us’, in which a politician, Bilious Barrage, based on the Purple Duce, whips up hatred against immigrants after a series of terrorist attacks against the City. The Telegraph quotes the comic’s editor, Matt Smith, who said

“2000 AD has a long tradition of taking a pop at authority, stemming from its anti-establishment punk origins back in the 1970s.

“Whether it was Margaret Thatcher being executed on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral by the Volgans in the very first issue, to Tony Blair being lampooned as the monomaniacal superhero B.L.A.I.R. 1, or Nemesis the Warlock ruthlessly satirising organised religion, 2000 AD has always taken a pop at the powerful and the pompous and no one, not even today’s politicians, are safe.”

The Belfast Telegraph’s article is at http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/breakingnews/offbeat/judge-dredd-takes-aim-at-farage-31111400.html

ITV’s article can be found at http://www.itv.com/news/update/2015-04-01/farage-like-character-set-to-star-in-new-judge-dredd-comic/

Judge Dredd, like the rest of 2000 AD, always had a very strong satirical edge. One of its writing team, I think it might have been John Wagner, the strip’s co-creator, described Mega-City 1 as a giant black comedy. Way back under Maggie and Major, the strip included a corrupt politician, Gummer, who stood for the wimp vote. Any resemblance to John Selwyn Gummer, then a member of cabinet, was probably purely intentional. It’s also highly ironic that the Judge, who represents the faceless totalitarian police state, should find Farage too much too stomach.

This definitely looks like one strip to look forward to. Truly thrill-powered. And we know, that whatever happens, Farage will never make it to the hallowed ranks of the Squax dek Thargo.

Splundig Vur Thrig, Earthlets!