The Blog

Hello Sweet Art: A Sexist Document Is Coming Home

Some (men) say that Pinter has just as much disdain for men. His male characters vary from a bit pathetic to utterly cruel. But the point is that the leverage they have in the world comes from more than what's between their legs.
Marc Brenner

I wanted to get Chairman Mao's red book out of the library but it was ON LOAN. Nightmare. Had to do all of this stuff instead.

The Homecoming, Trafalgar Studios

What it is: A 50th anniversary production of Pinter's play about a menacing family reunion

I'd never seen a Harold Pinter play before. Now I have. And I'll tell you what it's like.

It's like when you go on a date with a man who monologues at you for 45 minutes about how the novels of Roberto Bolaño are just utterly fantastic and how he once read an anthropological journal about the male hunter-gatherer instinct and felt at peace with his masculinity and then he shot a dog. And then at the end he says, 'God, sorry if I was rambling on a bit there, I hope you weren't bored.' And you don't reply because you've gone into a coma.

Let's get one thing straight. My problem here is with Pinter.

Jamie Lloyd is a rock star of a director. He makes any production pulse with bass and colour and you can never, ever be bored. John Simm brings humanity and mischief to the role, and Keith Allen is perfect. Basically, LOVING YOUR WORK Jamie.

But this is a misogynist play and it's just not acceptable.

It is not okay to put this on in 2015 when our stages are STILL dominated by dead white men. And it is not okay that because the majority of our critics are men no one is calling out Pinter's brazen disdain for women.

Why is it sexist? Because it is a play in which a woman exists solely as a receptacle for men's desires, territory for them to spray their patriarchal piss on. It presents Ruth (played by Gemma Chan) with the choice of a bored domestic life of obsolescence, or a career as a paid fuck hole, pimped out by a family of bitter men with raging stalk-ons. She chooses the latter, and it's presented like a victory. She sits in the patriarch's chair as if she's on a throne. The men submit fully to her, their desire so overwhelming that they behave like teenagers with wobbling knees. Woo hoo ladies! Forget becoming the first female leader of the Labour party, I just want men's saliva on my ankles and to set up an ISA account with the money I make from selling hand jobs!

Some (men) say that Pinter has just as much disdain for men. His male characters vary from a bit pathetic to utterly cruel. But the point is that the leverage they have in the world comes from more than what's between their legs. Some (men) might say that he is critiquing the patriarchal system and the revering of women as sexual objects, but that's the same argument that was used by the defenders of Dapper Laughs.

Sex work is not glamorous - it puts women's lives in frequent danger. It's also not a choice - because if you took the money away would that penis still be in your mouth?

I mean maybe I've got this all wrong. Maybe the victory of a vagina over five spluttering blokes is some sort of meta-feminism. But I just expected Pinter to tell me more than women are sexy and men are a bit shit.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part Two , (12A)

What it is: The final part of the those films where loads of kids kill each other for entertainment

Watching The Hunger Games is like going for a really long jog. This is because for the majority of it your heart beats very fast and it's quite emotionally stressful. I'm not very fit hence why jogging has such a debilitating impact on me but just to clarify watching The Hunger Games you will need to sit down so it's not like an innovative new form of cardiovascular exercise or anything.

This is the final part of the final part, and it probably would have been better if they had kept it as one film. Part One made me feel like I was queuing up to get on a rollercoaster and then the credits came on just as it was about to get exciting. So a year later, I was like, DELAYED GRATIFICATION, HERE WE COME. But actually, there wasn't enough excitement to justify splitting the last part in two. The film is slow to get going, then there's a part in the middle where you think you are going to have to breathe into a paper bag the tension is so strong. Then it all gets a bit confusing and then it's the end.

The best relationships in these films are Katniss and Peeta (OBV) and Katniss and Haymitch. Their respective gentle and cantankerous attitudes are the perfect compliment to Katniss IDGAF stubbornness. Sadly those relationships are in sparse evidence here.

I will still watch all four of the films in succession whilst drunk over Christmas, but I will do it with the sad knowledge that, like my behaviour, they will gradually decline in quality as time goes on.

Steve Coogan, Easily Distracted

What it is: The autobiography of the funniest man alive

I have a Word document on my computer where I write down all my heroes. You know just in case I forget or get a new one. Alongside my mum and Jessica Mitford is Steve Coogan. He is my hero. My main really big one.

Reading about his life only increases my love for the man who made owl sanctuaries acceptable first date venues. It's clear that he has a melancholy fascination with time - at one point he writes about sitting by a tree at his childhood home and thinking about sitting there in 10 years time, and then in another 10, and who he would be by then. He thinks about being on a bus home before his evening is even over. I do that too. And there's a weird sense that if your hero sometimes has the same brain processes as you do then maybe you are not that weird and will be okay after all.

Being able to read about Coogan's slog to the top, about his childhood, and even hearing him take down Julian Fellowes are all things that make me tingle with joy. And after reading this I am not going to watch Alan Partridge for the 37th time, I am going to watch Philomena, Coogan's Oscar-nominated passion project about Catholic nuns. H E R O.

The Homecoming is at Trafalgar Studios until 13 Feb

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part Two is in cinemas now

Easily Distracted by Steve Coogan is out now, published by Century