Saturday, 31 July 2021

A Life of Grimes

Darren Grimes is a tedious little shit. But he has proven quite canny in one respect: how to work the outrage machine to lever himself more followers and more attention. Not bad for someone who's barely in the legacy media, and who most people haven't heard of. If you've had a brief brush with notoriety in the public gaze, it does take some skill to build something out of it. In this respect Grimes is much like Katie Hopkins and is treading a similar career trajectory.

Consider how Hopkins got her start. She was an also ran in the 2006-7 season of The Apprentice, and pulled out citing family pressures. Having acquired the eye of the tabloids for a relationship with another contestant, she subsequently levered this into a literal expose of getting "caught" in flagrante in a field with her married lover and had said incident plastered in the papers. She followed this up by doing the rounds on panel shows, chat shows, reality TV, and daytime television. Over time she cultivated an ostentatiously harsh personality. Her shtick as a "truth teller" was (and still is) about belittling and punching downwards, and she was able to build a career out of mocking the motes of others while the media overlooked the beams of her own. The passage into outright racism and anti-immigrant politics was inevitable because this was where outrage-driven attention was opening opportunities for her ilk, and she carried on pushing it - to the point of losing her house in a libel ruling, and arriving at where she is now: banging the drum for anti-vaxxers and getting deported from Australia for flouting Covid precautions.

Grimes by comparison is pond life, but the comparison works. Having started his political journey as a Liberal Democrat, he moved quickly onto matters Brexit and became the go-between/patsy for the Vote Leave campaign and its engaging the data services of AggregateIQ, a firm connected to our friends Cambridge Analytica. Initially successfully prosecuted by the Electoral Commission and fined for breaking the law, this was subsequently overturned on appeal. But for a brief moment Grimes was a cause celebre on the right, a wide-eyed innocent pursued by a vengeful remain establishment for his part in the Brexit campaign. As such, he secured a few non-jobs with BrexitCentral and the IEA in the referendum's aftermath, while poking his head up from time to time on right wing outlets and getting his case championed by the likes of Guido and an assortment of Leave luminaries. However, this was not enough exposure and so he started producing his own videos. This struck gold when he interviewed David Starkey, who dutifully obliged his host by saying racist things, ensuring Grimes went viral and boosting his modest social media presence. However, racist provocations still have consequences and this made him unemployable as far as more mainstream outlets were concerned, a point underlined by the failing GBeebies refusing to employ him.

Thrown on his own meagre devices and priced out of London, all Grimes has left is keeping on pulling the outrage machine's lever. Attacking the England team for taking the knee? Easy, but hard to get traction when A-list right wingers like the Home Secretary were doing it. Delighting in Marcus Rashford missing a penalty? Of course he was always going to do that too. But attacking the Royal National Lifeboat Institution for saving people in the Channel to catch a ride on the right's anti-refugee bandwagon? Low, and a place few right wingers would tread, despite what they say at dinner parties.

As we've seen previously, there is a furious effort by the right to push socially conservative politics. Indeed, some have misread the situation and fooled themselves into thinking there is a mass clamouring for the war on woke when in fact it's a media/Westminster confection, just like the mythical centre ground and whatever rubbish the hacks and politicians think working class people think. They know in their bones the tide of cultural change is creeping in, obliterating their lines in the sand, swamping the moats and drowning their castles. And the more undermined they are, the more shrill their hot takes and protests become. They want to normalise racism and antipathy to the world outside because the cultural logics of the present point toward a future where divide-and-rule politics become increasingly difficult. And that makes future electoral success for the Tories much harder, unless they adapt. And likewise opportunities for right wingers to enjoy the easy life of mouthing off become more competitive.

This is the imploding universe Grimes has hitched his career hopes to, and he knows that if he stops saying outrageous things he won't matter any more. He doesn't have the connections or the class background to trade this in for a standard media career, and so he's on his own, perpetually looking out for new ways to centre himself in social media conversation, and to suck up to someone who might employ him. Imagine living such a miserable and perpetually exhausting life.

Image Credit


BCFG said...

Attacking the RNLI is indeed hardcore, and likely to split the racists.

You see lots of, ‘can’t the refugees just die in their own country’ folk outraged by this attack on a national institution! You also see lots of ‘we need an Australian style points system’ racists outraged too. I have a relative who says they would never go to a Muslim country on Holiday (so we went to Greece and not Turkey!) who was outraged by the attack on the RNLI. To be honest even the let them die at sea folk are outraged by this attack on the RNLI.

I don’t think this will be a turning point though. I remember Richard Seymour saying things will never be the same again after the Syrian boy was washed up on the beach and I remember thinking, what a delusional idiot. We then got the racist carnival that was Brexit.

This grimes chap seems like the right wing version of Owen Jones. Like, can’t they both get a proper job!

I don’t think the war on woke is a fabrication, more that woke itself is a fabrication. In that the great majority of people just don’t subscribe to its narratives, yet its narratives are constantly thrown into the mainstream by the very forces you claim want to wage war on woke.

From what I can see the media and Westminster can’t get enough of woke narratives, and will continue to repeat it ad nausea until the masses parrot along with it.

I guess it’s better than parroting Heil Hitler, I will say that for it.

Dr Zoltan Jorovic said...

I wonder what BCFG means by woke narratives, having just claimed that woke is a fabrication. Assuming woke is a label applied to a set of views that a range of people share - although presumably like any range there will be a normal distribution of views with a large chunk in the middle, fading down in either direction to the extremes that only a few hold - then how can it be fabricated? Is BCFG claiming that these views don't exist, or that nobody holds them, or that they do exist but the people who hold them only do so to create a narrative to annoy some other set of people? That would require someone to make up the whole concept - and presumably a set of views to go with it, and then tell stories about it and convince large numbers of people that these stories are worth hearing , even though they just made it all up. I suppose that describes some of what the tabloids do, but even those who despise them would accept that most of what they publish is based on reality - it is just that they choose to frame it from a particular perspective.

Dr Zoltan Jorovic said...

As for the individual this article is about. Why give him publicity if that is what he craves? Better to ignore him until he slips back into obscurity.

Kamo said...

I think you've undersold the key point in all this; there is a market for being outraged about stuff, and it cuts across political ideologies; with different twists for different ideological standpoints. Of course, to see this one has to breifly step back from one's own ideological standpoint and temporarily suspend the instinct to believe this is what the other side gets up to. The largest consumer base for the likes of Grimes and Hopkins are the 'woke' who want to be outraged by them (or more likely want to be outraged on behalf of other people who they think should be offended) so they can virtue signal their modern, progressive superiority; feel guilt free joining social media piles ons, and spray words like 'hateful','triggering' and 'problematic' around without having to examine the weaknesses in their own views too rigorously. The potential customer base of genuine, hard-right, hardcore bigots is much smaller, and not so likely to be consuming the required media channels.

There's also the b2b segment of the market to consider, the likes of Grimes and Hopkins offer pretexts for recycling cheap, stock grievance porn articles in certain channels e.g the Graun. There's a whole industry of professional 'activists' out there scrabbling around to find grievance to latch on to, and whether they like to admit it or not, they're fighting for the same scraps, which is why you see the same pretexts shoehorned into a wide variety of 'causes' depending on the speciality of the 'activist' in question.

BCFG said...

I mean by fake that woke is something pushed by various interest groups, this is then packaged as a trend among humans, I still believe, at this point, that most people simply do not follow these woke narratives.

Of course, given the ruling ideas of society are those of the ruling class, then the more these woke narratives are pushed the more likely they will become a reality.

Woke, for me, is a total regression. It is characterised by witch hunts, lack of evidence and dubious assertions. I regard it as a pre-enlightenment ideology or set of ideologies.

At the moment woke lumps together many grievances/ideas that do not really belong together. It is a bit like Al Qaeda in this respect, many groups all over the world that have never spoken to each other, that have different ideas and histories are suddenly lumped into an organisation. Which is very convenient for the war on terror. I view woke in the same way, in that different ideas, issues, injustices, political interests, are all mashed together to give the impression of some sort of movement.

My view is that this movement does not **currently** exist beyond a fringe of activists.

Kamo said...

@ Dr Zoltan Jorovic

I keep reading that things like 'woke', 'culture war' and 'cancel culture' are just confections that don't really exist, yet the people who write such things clearly recognise the actions, beliefs and behaviours those terms encompass do actually exist, and they clearly understand them to be have distinct connotations. So, I assume it's a partially realised semantic strategy; they want to normalise these things (or at least what they approve of) by demanding everyone else stops recognising the semantic differential?

Anonymous said...

Seymour also though bojo would last a few weeks I don't know why the left listens to him, he comes across as so arrogant