With all the excitement of our tenth anniversary behind us, and things still looking grim on the traffic front, I thought it was perhaps about time that we re-iterated what this site is really about, and revisited the ‘Sleaze Manifesto’, which informs all of our activity. However, when I re-examined this historic document, I felt much the same way that Jez did in Peep Show, when Super Hans reminded him that the ‘Big Beat Manifesto’ simply said “Big beats are the best. Get high all the time” – “At the time, it felt like a much more all-encompassing philosophy.” So it is with the ‘Sleaze Manifesto’. Simply saying “We are The Sleaze, stick that up your arses”, doesn’t really provide much in the way of a statement of intent. So, I’ve decided to set out a definitive version of the ‘Sleaze Manifesto’, as I recall it, which will make clear what we’re about, and what we will and won’t do. Hopefully, this can provide us with a template for the site’s future. OK, so let’s get started with some basics:
1. The Sleaze knows no boundaries in terms of content.
Whilst, that seems pretty straightforward, I have to caveat it by saying that while, in general terms, I believe that no subject matter should be off-limits to the satirist, I increasingly find myself not wanting to be unpleasant. I don’t mean unpleasant in terms of attacking politicians, organised religion and various other institutions, I just don’t feel particularly happy anymore in being nasty about specific individuals, even if they are public figures. Which isn’t to say that celebrities are beyond the reach of The Sleaze any more, just that I want to focus more on attacking the whole notion of celebrity culture, rather than simply being rude about individual celebrities. Just insulting people and calling them names isn’t satire. It’s just cruel. That said, if they behave like idiots, then such behaviour is still fair game. The other aspect to this first rule of the manifesto is that The Sleaze won’t confine its satirical focus to politics, as some sites do. We’ll continue to pursue our offensive on a broad front.
2. The Sleaze doesn’t give a damn for the opinion of others.
I still stand by this one. Although it is always difficult not to seek the approval of one’s peers, if you start writing satire based on what you think will be popular, then you are embarking on the road to oblivion. Be true to yourself.
3. The Sleaze believes that the first duty of the artist is to shock.
I’m sure that’s a quote from someone, (someone other than my former colleague ‘Wild’ Bill, who once said it to me, that is), and I’ve always been of the firm opinion that if you aren’t offending somebody, somewhere, then you aren’t writing satire. That’s the whole point of the genre, to challenge people’s preconceptions and prejudices. Now, I know that The Sleaze doesn’t always succeed in doing this, but it remains our aim.
4. The Sleaze won’t put commercial considerations or the pursuit of web traffic ahead of the pursuit of satire.
Again, we still stand by this. We still don’t carry advertising. I’m afraid I’m an old socialist and, consequently, money isn’t the main motivating factor in my life. Web traffic, as regulars will know, is a continued bug bear of mine, an obsession, almost. Nevertheless, I’m simply not prepared to compromise the type of satire we publish here for the sake of a few hundred page clicks. Besides, when your income isn’t dependent upon advertising revenues, then it is easier to be sanguine about traffic levels.
5. The Sleaze eschews the very concept of celebrity and everything associated with it.
I think this one needs some explanation. Basically, it seems to me that some people who run ‘humourous’ web sites are, themselves, seeking wider recognition and, ultimately, ‘fame’. The rise of ‘celebrity culture’, as articulated through the mainstream media, posits ‘fame’ as the ultimate life goal. As an underground site, we reject ‘celebrity culture’ and, by extension, the notion of ‘fame’. The idea that certain people are ‘better’ or ‘more important’ than the rest of us, and that their opinions are, therefore, also ‘more important’, is entirely false. Consequently, we do not seek celebrity endorsements, or the approval of the mainstream media for The Sleaze. By extension, we do not advertise through normal means, seek awards or indulge in self-aggrandisement on forums or in social media. In short, we do not wish to be ‘celebrities’ ourselves.
6. The Sleaze will always remain true to its roots as an underground publication.
Well, that goes without saying. I hope that we’ll remain iconoclastic and downright perverse when it comes to satire. We’re always for the revolution, rather than the status quo! But remember, in many instances the forces opposing the status quo are themselves effectively an ‘establishment’, their positions based upon unquestioned ‘received wisdom’. As a result, they’ll be in the firing line, too. Nobody is safe from The Sleaze!
Well, there you have it, the current ‘Sleaze Manifesto’. Obviously, being a hypocrite, I reserve the right to change or ignore any or all of the above as it suits me! After all, we are iconoclasts and rules are made to be broken. I’m sure that, in time, I’ll think of other things to add to the manifesto but, as it stands, I think it represents a pretty good blueprint for the future.
Most fundamentally, regardless of any other considerations, The Sleaze will continue to endeavour to approach the targets of its satire from an oblique angle. Just like The Goon Show, we will strive to bring every situation to its illogical conclusion. I’d like to think that it is this approach, more than anything in the manifesto itself, which gives the site its unique flavour. Well, I think that just about wraps it up for another editorial, so it just remains to say: ‘til the next time, keep it sleazy!