By Christiaan van Huyssteen (@cvh23)
Photograph: Ken McKay/REX
Last week, a British MP launched a tirade against what he perceived to be too much privileged people in the arts.
Chris Bryant – British Labour MP and shadow minister for the arts:
“We can’t just have a culture dominated by Eddie Redmayne and James Blunt and their ilk,”
The ‘You’re Beautiful’ singer James Blunt responded by setting the facts straight. In an open letter:
Dear Chris Bryant MP,
You classist gimp. I happened to go to a boarding school. No one helped me at boarding school to get into the music business. I bought my first guitar with money I saved from holiday jobs (sandwich packing!). I was taught the only four chords I know by a friend. No one at school had ANY knowledge or contacts in the music business, and I was expected to become a soldier or a lawyer or perhaps a stockbroker. So alien was it, that people laughed at the idea of me going into the music business, and certainly no one was of any use.
In the army, again, people thought it was a mad idea. None of them knew anyone in the business either.
And when I left the army, going against everyone’s advice, EVERYONE I met in the British music industry told me there was no way it would work for me because I was too posh. One record company even asked if I could speak in a different accent. (I told them I could try Russian).
Every step of the way, my background has been AGAINST me succeeding in the music business. And when I have managed to break through, I was STILL scoffed at for being too posh for the industry.
And then you come along, looking for votes, telling working class people that posh people like me don’t deserve it, and that we must redress the balance. But it is your populist, envy-based, vote-hunting ideas which make our country crap, far more than me and my shit songs, and my plummy accent.
I got signed in America, where they don’t give a stuff about, or even understand what you mean by me and “my ilk”, you prejudiced wazzock, and I worked my arse off. What you teach is the politics of jealousy. Rather than celebrating success and figuring out how we can all exploit it further as the Americans do, you instead talk about how we can hobble that success and “level the playing field”. Perhaps what you’ve failed to realise is that the only head-start my school gave me in the music business, where the VAST majority of people are NOT from boarding school, is to tell me that I should aim high. Perhaps it protected me from your kind of narrow-minded, self-defeating, lead-us-to-a-dead-end, remove-the-‘G’-from-‘GB’ thinking, which is to look at others’ success and say, “it’s not fair.”
James Cucking Funt
It seems Mr Blunt checked his privilege, and found there to be none.
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