display | more...

Is a strip from Viz comic that appeared from around 1993 up until comparatively recently, written and drawn by a John Fardell, who also is responsible for "The Critics."

The setting is something like this. The Modern Parents are Malcolm and Cressida Wright-Pratt, and they live in a fairly affluent upper-middle class suburb in Fulchester with their children, Tarquin and Guinevere. They have woolly jumpers, big noses for sticking into other peoples' business, and a habit of closing their eyes and raising their index finger when talking, as if lecturing a particularly stupid and intractable child on the errors of their ways.

They spend their time basically living up to every last paranoid parenting trend and bien-pensant fear about the world extant. In one strip, they forbid their children from going to a local event on how one can protect the environment (despite spending most of their time expressing paranoia about how Global Warming is coming, personally, to get them) because it's funded by "corporate sponsorship" (a local bike shop) and get angry when Tarquin calls them out on how they're just bitter that they aren't picked to organise it. So they instead drag the children to their own environmental action group meeting, where other big-nosed woolly-jumpered types start discussing what they can do to save the world from the depredations of Big Oil. Unfortunately it turns into a pitched battle where they start taking offence because one of them says that another is a traitor because he's got a bigger carbon footprint than the rest of them, and he says how it's justified because he has to have his Land Rover to take his children to school and you know how many paedophiles are out there and he also has to take his organic driftwood sculptures to craft fairs, and suchlike.

Then there's another one, upon the inauguration of Barack Obama as president, where one of the children says to the other how important, historically, America's first black president is, the Parents and their friends slap him down for being so naive. The children go out while the parents express paranoia about how the whole "change" stuff is likely to be a misnomer, how Obama's some sort of race traitor for selling out to mainstream politics, how if he changed anything the CIA would probably have him assassinated, and how they worry about what sort of nastily racist world the children will grow up in. Meanwhile, the children are portrayed having a nice game of football in the park with children of all races and genders.

The nemesis of the Parents is, of course, Uncle Eddie. He's Cressida's level headed working class brother and therefore an object of extreme suspicion, because he feeds the children chips (gasp!), how he gave Tarquin a penknife for his birthday like how him and his pals all had when they were boys, and how he drives a car that isn't a hybrid, and how he shops at Tesco (HERESY! *BLAM*), among other things. There's also, very occasionally, Malcolm's family, who are all Tories and, like Malcolm, all went to public school, and don't like to talk about Malcolm very much, because he married an oik woman.

It is also implied that Tarquin and Guinevere are bullied at school due to their parents.

Thing is, while a caricature this may be, there are folks out there very much like Malcolm and Cressida. Every stereotype contains a grain of truth. In Britain at least, there is very much a "liberal elite" - a core of champagne socialists who, predominantly, live in North London, have lots of money, and ascribe to fashionable notions about how, despite being born in the silver spoon strata of society, they're somehow on the side of the working classes and battle to save the environment and campaign against benefit cuts and express hatred of "the corporations," yet at the same time they are very much of "the corporations" and often have highly paid jobs in same, and treat the "vulnerable in society" of whose lot they despair with disdain and even outright hatred. They see ordinary working class folks - C2s if you will - as a monstrous rabble of prolefed, reality TV-watching, polluting, binge-drinking, probably-racist folks who must be uplifted by the beneficence of ABs like themselves who are on their side. Yet as soon as they are given a taste of power, as Orwell predicted, they go and thrust the Low back down into their position of subservience once again, as a threat that must be watched and controlled. It is no coincidence that Yasmin Alibhai-Brown once was quoted as saying that without the work of pro-equality groups (often staffed by monied middle-classers and well-funded by central government and paying not inconsiderable wages), the white working classes would devolve into a mass of burbling racist idiots. Which is not only demonstrably false, but also displays a shocking amount of prejudice on the part of Ms Alibhai Brown. (If you must know, the only thing I learnt from PSHE lessons in school covering racism was a wider variety of epithets and racial stereotypes that I had honestly, despite living in a very multicultural town, never really encountered. In short, I learnt how to be racist in anti-racism lessons.) Similarly, when George Monbiot sneered at stag-weekenders going on cheap flights to Eastern Europe and called for personal CO2 taxes, his justification for it came over as less motivated by concern for the environment and more by disdain for the great unwashed. (If you ask me, the concept of CO2 taxes strikes me as basically the poll tax done over again and while it is a laudable aim, discouraging people from polluting, and while it would be affordable for rich folks like Monbiot who can afford a second home, it would disproportionately cause financial stress on the less well off and/or those in rural areas who rely on motorised transport to get around. But that's a whole other node.) And the Modern Parents, in one strip, even agitate for stripping pensions from retired coal miners because they willingly worked for an industry that hurts the environment. Alarmingly, this isn't too far off the mark.

Aside from the above mentioned caricature of "la gauche caviar," The Modern Parents also sends up things that are trendy amongst the upper middle classes, such as organic food, alternative medicine, homeopathy and other woo, Steiner schools, obsessing over your carbon footprint, and similar. But the root of Malcolm and Cressida's interest in these things is mainly because the lower orders don't do it. Indeed, one can imagine that if the rest of Cressida's family are like Uncle Eddie, there's a streak of self hatred in her as well.

I'm actually surprised that The Modern Parents hasn't been seen in Viz recently, what with David Cameron's insistence that the Coalition would be the "greenest government ever," the Occupy movement (though that may be more up Student Grant's remit), marches against public sector cuts, and suchlike.

Unusually for a Viz strip, The Modern Parents doesn't really contain all that much foul language. But it's still funny as shite.


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.