Rod Liddle

30 years of Viz

30 years of Viz
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I have actually cried with laughter six times in my life. Once, when I was 14, watching the famous “Germans” episode of Fawlty Towers; a few years later at the Ku Klux Klan scene from Blazing Saddles. More recently I shed a shaky tear when the politician Ron Davies explained to police that he’d been “watching badgers” in a copse near the M4, and at around about the same time I saw Brass Eye’s fabulously offensive paedophilia special. Twice, though, I have been reduced to tears by the Geordie “adult” comic Viz. Back in the 1990s, when it produced a mock “limited edition” ceramic giftware called “The Life of Christ in Cats”, in which scenes from the Saviour’s life were depicted by felines – little kitten in a manger watched by pussycat figures Mary and Joseph, disappointed-looking tabby cat nailed up to a cross, etc, all painted on a plate. And then, four or five years ago when they did the most perfect take-off of the Guardian local government jobs pages in a spoof called “Vagrant Recruitment”, an entire page of job adverts for tramps written in precisely the condescending, self-important gobbledygook of local government: An opportunity has recently opened for the post of part-time Grade 3 Underpass Vagrant… will have considerable experience of menacing children and shouting loudly at traffic, etc etc. Wonderful stuff.

Viz is 30 years old, apparently, and the Spectator – which has always rather liked the comic – marks the fact with a fine article by Sinclair McKay (no link – buy it from a newsagents you tight-fisted bastards). I say it’s a fine piece, but I think Sinclair does make the mistake of believing Viz to be well to the right of centre, and even Tory - given its scathing depiction of yob culture, sexual profligacy, idleness, drunkenness and stupidity and its magnificently un-PC approach to homosexuality, feminism, environmentalism and indeed racism. I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make, seeing that the left has come to be defined by its leniency towards those earlier qualities I mention and its humourless credulity towards those latter qualities. But again – and it’s a familiar refrain of mine, I know – that isn’t the left which I signed up to, and nor is it one which has ever had much beyond popularity beyond London, and certainly not in the north east of England, where I grew up and from where Viz emanates. My guess is that the comic’s creators are either apolitical, like most people in the country, or even old fashioned Labour, given the avidity with which they snipe at Conservative politicians and the strong undercurrent of class war which permeates most issues. It is the fault of the Labour Party, though, that such a stance could be misconstrued as being pro-Tory.