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James Blunt, butcher of music, assaulter of ears, recently wrote a reply to Chris Bryant (MP) slamming the concept that class privilege helped him to get where he is/ was (he’s a has been now right?). It is with some irony that Blunt the clunt (I’m being polite), began his letter of privilege denial by using the ableist slur “gimp”. Now, some people have come out to say it’s not an ableist slur because it means “contemptible” and some such rubbish, without the basic understanding that that is why it is ableist i.e. disabled people are seen as contemptible. Grumble.

It doesn’t begin and end with his use of ableist slurs though, there are a handful of other reasons why he’s an utter “wazzock”. Firstly, Bryant had simply stated that the lack of roles for working class people has resulted in a class inequality in the arts. This is quite right. Nick Cohen brilliantly states the case for this in the Guardian, comparing it to journalism where those most successful hail from families 42% better off than the average. Bryant simply named Blunt as a visible example of someone coming from this privileged sector- so far so reasonable. Having only simply stated that there are more rich people in the arts and that James Blunt is an example of a rich person in the arts- both of which are objective facts, it is hard to see what Blunt found so risible he had to go off on a rampage in the media- which by the way is another example of how his privilege favours him because no fucker is going to print my incoherent, illogical rants in a national newspaper.

Add to his power differential (being able to get open letters printed in mainstream media) with the majority of us, and his ableism, his complete lack of understanding of objective truth and the guy’s not onto a winner. But this is where we get more ridiculous. Blunt then goes on to frame himself as some Camus style outsider- living beyond the bounds of privileged society because not all of his mates were into guitars and people laughed at his nasal voice or some such too posh to push type crap in which Blunt claims he was the victim of his own privileged education, and economic safety net. What he’s clearly failed to grasp is that the economic safety net he had, along with his education to fall back on, was precisely why he could take a risk on entering the arts, and exactly why many working class people can’t. He stands shoulder to shoulder with the Mumfords, Florences, Lily Allen, and La Rouxs of the music world who had the benefit of the private education 93% of us were denied. It’s not like he’s the only toff in the music village.

Then we have the hidden curriculum. This is a concept which states that our educations are not only informed by the school’s purposive curriculum but that there is also a second unwitting curriculum. One that teaches you whether to bow to authority, to see yourself as less, or that tells you that you’re special, superior, deserving etc. A public school education is a powerful tool for telling people they can be successful- that they are destined for it and so, along with their economic safety net, they are more likely to see themselves as potential successes, they present themselves more confidently, they take more risks. Add in the potential for cronyism and the whole, not what you know but who you know of it all, and it’s hard to see where he’s coming from. Meanwhile, working class kids are prepared for unskilled labour, primed for subservience, and finagled with lower aspirations. Then you have language codes. The forms of speech you learn according to your class- from your school and from your parents, family, friends etc. which signal to society where you belong. The cut glass accent sending out the message that you belong with people in high places. It’s all subconscious of course, but crikey, it doesn’t take much thinking about to see how class privileges can get you where you are.

Then of course he’s a white, cis, able bodied (I wouldn’t like to guess at his mental health), straight (?), man. Throw in the upper-middle class factor and you’ve got someone who is just about as privileged as it comes. So when such a person turns around and rants that his success was simply down to his own hard work rah, rah, gimp, rah, it all becomes a bit of a joke. The fact that Blunt cannot see just how these factors have aided his success just serves to further prove how entrenched his privileges are- because such people have a vested interest in maintaining such a position. Every privilege you can name comes at the detriment of its opposite, to deny that is to protect an iniquitous position in which you are favoured- I can see the temptation.

Being a crippled lass in a council flat, with visible Rom features, no money, and no schooling I just can’t go along with Blunt’s stated position. Life has been stacked against me since the age of 11. I have worked my arse off, probably just as much as Blunt, to get somewhere and I haven’t. I’m nowhere. I still have no income, I’ve got 3 kids, one of whom is disabled, and no social life. To ignore all of his privilege and simply rant “I got here on my own hard work” is to undermine and insult everyone who lacks his privileges and who has worked their arse off and gotten nowhere because of that. I can only hope he didn’t give much thought to his letter.

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