A skewed route from Clifton to Easton

The video, Clifton to Easton,a festival entry to the Zebra Film Festival featuring Bristol suburbs Clifton and Easton has been removed after being been called abhorrent, disgraceful and has received many comments in the Bristol Post and much criticism on Bristol Culture against its derogatory depictions of the relevant populations.

The contempt for residents of Clifton is most pronounced in the poem by David C. Johnson and whose description of schoolgirls’ chests is rather questionable:

Who will join me on the diesel to Easton?
It won’t be the schoolgirls in Clifton High’s tartan,
With their push-up bras that have little to push,
Whose piercing voices and Oh! my God screeches
Reveal a vacuum that nature’s abhorring.

I first thought that this was just an ethnographic piece. Observing and writing about other people is not a sinister practise on its own, I studied the subject myself at post-graduate level and found this method of “represent[ing] graphically and in writing, the nature of a people” fascinating.

David Simon did it for his book Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets which was turned into the popular TV series The Wire; Ethnographers such as Peter Moskos do it professionally and he published his book Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore’s Eastern District after becoming a police officer for a year; Body & Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer, a world-renowned French sociologist signed up at a boxing gym in a black neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side .

But Johnson’s poem and, apparently, the documentary made by Diana Taylor are more akin to visiting a group of people and treating them as if you were going to a zoo to note habits and behaviours. Or just to gawp. The clip of the documentary festival-entry has been removed from YouTube and I wish I had seen the creation of these people who apparently give ethnographers a bad name. replaced with the following one: http://youtu.be/vs2aD_DuJi8.

The film was also shown at the Blue Screen film festival.

1. Where do you draw the line between nit-picking a creative / poetic representation and bringing in some facts to clear up stereotypical usage which becomes one more propagation of racism?

Easton is shown as Asian or Black with the men sitting in cafes as the narrator suggests “home is Bristol and miles away.” In fact Easton is predominantly white (75%) according to Bristol City Council statistics;

As @guriben said on Twitter: Easton is not just a melting pot. In fact nearly 70% are Christian or have no religion so how are shops selling prayer mats a representation of Easton?

2. One of the most unpleasant parts of the documentary was showing the most beautiful babies while the narrator read out the lines mocking the mothers’ choices about prams and paraphernalia. There is little that is not bitter about this poem.

10 responses to “A skewed route from Clifton to Easton”

  1. Your article is misleading there have been no adverse comments in the Evening Post , the only critiicsm on Bristol Culture seems to be the man who writes it and the only people who have complained are a couple of people from Clifton.
    No one seems to be complaining from Easton.
    One comment said the film was a fairly truthful.
    The film is still on u tube.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Dan. You are wrong, my article is not misleading in the slightest and is now completely up-to-date. Martin’s comment saved me the time from pointing out all the “adverse comments” which people, including Stephen Williams MP, wrote about the poem so I won’t add any further examples.

      As an aside, saying that the “only critiicsm (sic) on Bristol Culture seems to be the man who writes it” is like saying it is only Alan Rusbridger’s opinion that is negative, on a given topic, in the Guardian. A fairly redundant point, in my opinion.

  2. I admit I was none too complimentary writing about the poem and the accompanying video on Bristol Culture.

    But then nor was MP Stephen Williams: “astounded the Evening Post published that. Stapleton Rd is a great place & doesn’t need that sort of drivel.”

    Nor former Venue associate editor Eugene Byrne: “These ethnics and poor people really are frightfully colourful and friendly, you know. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.”

    Nor GreaterBristol.com: “it’s such a shame that people who write such poems, live such sheltered lives. I wonder if they were perplexed and bewildered when they noticed a Thali Cafe the same as in Clifton.”

    Nor @morrell07: “how does he know so much about what Clifton schoolgirls have in their bras?”

    Nor Cllr Guy Poultney: “David C Johnson & Diana Taylor should be ashamed – cheap, crude, snide attacks on children and young people.”

    And you say there have been no adverse comments on the Post website. Here are just two none too complimentary opinions:

    “This is so awful. Is it supposed to be funny? Well done to The Evening Pest for sharing David C Johnson & Diana Taylor’s bizarre opinions.”

    “I feel sick after reading this”

    And yes, the film is now back on YouTube, but it was taken down yesterday and then a different version uploaded.

  3. I have geard you aren t very happy with the Evening Post as you aren’t working there any more. , is all this venom to do with that?

  4. I’m curious as to why your own venom is directed towards me, Dan Brown. I bear no malice towards the Evening Post. In fact, I still regularly write for them in a freelance capacity and see many staff socially where we discuss spelling, punctuation and grammar. Maybe you would like to join us one day?

  5. you make it up as you go along.

  6. Dear Martin (or ‘Ma’ for short)

    I have read this moronic back and forth for a good three minutes now, and think that I have got to the crux of the problem. Dan Brown is right: you do in fact make spelling, punctuation, and grammar up as you go along. I have been studying the ‘website’ (if you can call it a website) named Bristol Culture for the past eight minutes, and I note several discrepancies in your approach to these things. For instance, ‘Ma,’ where you write:

    “The twat-badger Dan Brown, and I”

    Should you not instead have written: “The twat-badger Dan Brown and I”? I don’t know, I leave it up to you.

    I for one, Ma, find it disgusting that you insist on creating new rules for spelling, punctuation and grammar (or as I like to call it, “spalling, pinctuation+ grommer”). What’s next? Dan Brown is right, and he has my vote, as far as I’m concerned it’s hacks like yourself that are sending the beauteous English language right down the crapper.

    Dan Brown is right, “You make it up as you go along”

    With much vitriol etc etc


  7. Martin claims to have a PHD
    Martin has over egged the Clifton to Easton to get huge response on his web pages.
    Martin does very little for the Evening Post he occasionally writes a revue about an event.
    I wonder what the Newspaper Complaints Commission would have to say about Martin’s antics.
    Oh in the mean time I’ll just check out the PHD……

  8. As a point of fact, I have never claimed to have a PhD. However, do please refer me to the PCC. That will certainly be worthy of a revue.

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