YouTube is probably the greatest anthropological project ever launched. It has managed to expose the multitudes of the human condition more than any other medium ever created, and allowed people to express themselves in more diverse ways than at any point in history. This weekly column is an outlet for me to share with you some undiscovered gems, as well some very well trodden gems, and discuss just what it is that makes the chosen accounts so intriguing.
WHO: Pat Condell
WHAT: Old man ranting about shit
HOW MANY SUBSCRIBERS AT TIME OF WRITING: 270,235
WHY SHOULD I CARE: If Pat Condell's Wikipedia entry is to be believed (a Wikipedia entry that smacks of self-authorship), he is a former stand-up comedian who now posts polemic monologues on his YouTube channel. He has also written books, one called Godless and Free, the other, Freedom Is My Religion. He is in his sixties. Watching Pat Condell's videos is a strange and unnerving experience. I don't doubt that if he read this he would say my discomfort comes from not being able to acknowledge "the truth", that fickle and nebulous thing that people online eternally claim to be the keepers and givers of. The truth – that thing people just refuse to acknowledge. People who oppose Donald Trump's plan to not allow any Muslims into the United States are whipped into a frenzy, says Pat, not out of disagreement, but because they simply cannot be told this hard truth, and will not listen to it as it pains them so much to hear. Pat Condell dishes out this truth in front of his camera. He, presumably, writes out his long, bloated, supposedly caustic truth-bombs on a word document and films himself as he reads them out. We'll get to the content of his videos in a moment, but first let me get into why they make me feel so strange.
Aside from the bullish, gross themes of Pat Condell's content, the way he delivers it is unnerving in the extreme. He sits expressionless in front of the camera and reads aloud his various pseudo-intellectual musings on religion and social culture. You can hear every noise the spit in his mouth makes. The only other sound aside from his smacking lips and whistling exhalations is the hum and buzz of the electrical equipment. He leers at you with his horrid, dead eyes, an icy, cold blue resting beneath two light-brown brows. White cropped hair, a marked, red and white face, an English flag of a man, fluttering gently in the breeze of his own bullshit. Watching him is like being trapped inside a frustrated old man's head, an old man with delusions of his own intelligence and a petty ignorance of the world surrounding him. You can feel the warm breath, made stale from the avalanche of pernicious tripe that tickles his tongue on the way out, lapping at your face. His mouth quivers with disdain.
One of the things that irritates me so much about Condell's videos is his constant use of the word "progressive". It appears that he uses it as a synonym for anyone who does not wish to offend, anyone who promotes greater cultural integration in society on a wider scale, anyone who thinks about what they say before they say it.
A progressive, to Condell, is anyone who doesn't think Islam is the devil incarnate, who doesn't think it is a religion of war, who doesn't subscribe to the childishly myopic view that women are degraded and abused in all walks of life. Things that take moments to debunk, just by talking to people. The mere use of the word "progressive" as a negative is telling enough. Why don't you want to progress, Pat Condell, fervent atheist? Surely that is our evolutionary destiny, to progress continuously, to adapt? Or are you just an old fart with a webcam and a penchant for Islamophobia?
Formerly respected and now quite worrisome evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has sung Condell's praises (again, according to his Wikipedia page, which is so self-aggrandising it's a wonder it can be attributed to such a staunch seeker of truths), saying that "Pat Condell is unique. Nobody can match his extraordinary blend of suavity and savagery. With his articulate intelligence he runs rings around the religious wingnuts that are the targets of his merciless humour. Thank goodness he is on our side."
Except Pat Condell is not unique, nor is he unmatched, nor does he appear to be particularly intelligent. I'm yet to find a video of his in which he doesn't resort to insulting "progressives" and making puerile, blanket statements about things he professes to know about, but actually doesn't. It's all in his manner, the way in which he recites his polemics. He is a predictable idiot. He has a video entitled "The Ugliest Newspaper in Britain". Three guesses which one it is.
To say Pat Condell is dangerous is to give him far too much credit. Rather, he is the physical sum total of every old, opinionated right-winger who likes to pretend they care about anything other than their dreadful musings, like the Muslim women they're all so concerned about, yet always speak of in a derogatory tone. There are thousands of Pat Condells up and down the country, regardless of what Dawkins says. It's just that this one has an internet connection and a heavy narcissistic streak.
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