“Pee, poop and toilet paper are all that belongs in the toilet”. These are the words of a governmental anti-rat campaign that ran last year in Oslo, Norway. On its surface the words ring true, food scraps stuck in the sewers serve as food for hungry rats and encourage breeding. Throwing non-degradable sanitary and hygiene products into the toilet can clog the pipes, allowing easy access for the rat population. As such the campaign seems to make a lot of sense and if successful could prevent problems arising in the government run waste management system. But that is only part of the story, I see another layer that deserves closer scrutiny.
The aforementioned campaign was not just communicated in the usual ways, such as on bulletin boards, adverts on public transportation, tv and so on. This campaign also featured “stickers” that were placed on sidewalks. I became aware of them when I saw some placed outside an upscale shopping mall in the “ritzy” part of town. The crude message seemed malplaced among the spotless Tesla electric vehicles cruising the nearby street and men and women dressed in fashionable clothing. It deserves mention that the current city government is ruled by left wing parties. Not just your run of the mill leftist parties mind you, but also a radical enviromentalist party and a self-described socialist party.
Understandably they don’t particularly care for those on the Western part of town, where the well-to-do live (and work). To me the anti-rat campaign’s overt crude delivery of its message can be interpreted politically. In so doing we can see the left wing city government using crudity to degrade their political opponents (the rich city dwellers overwhelmingly vote for parties on the right). I seriously doubt that rat infestation and sloppy handling of food scraps are a serious menace in the well-to-do boroughs. Why then run such an in-your-face campaign with a “dirty” message? Am I going too far out on a limb by seeing political undertones?
That being said, in the long run this is just a small anecdote of a larger phenomenon. Crudity as a political tool in the culture war is perhaps more clearly seen in the left’s pushing of sex ed and an LGBT agenda in schools. Regularly we can hear about sex ed and LGBT issues being pushed on younger and younger kids. I remember having sex ed in school myself, but it didn’t take place until it was relevant according to our biological age. Nowadays adult topics are pushed on children too young to understand, make use of, and to contextualize properly. It isn’t intended to inform, as the sex ed of my day was, but rather to mold attitudes while they’re still easily malleable. I’ve written in earlier posts about how I was a leftist by default as a child and teenager, due to the almost completely onesidedness of the information I was exposed to in the media, out culture and in school. This means that crudity isn’t just crudity, it has political ramifications as well. In my day sex ed was mostly theoretical discussions about STD’s, pregnancy and the odd putting a condom on a banana. Now we hear about explicit displays shown to younger and younger children.
Another good example of politicized crudity is governmental funding of art. The left loves to push their cultural agenda through “art”, including famous examples like “Piss Christ” and Sweden’s “feminist porn”. While the traditionalists on the right appreciate the beauty of old paintings, architecture and music, the left embraced rude and degrading music, degenerate art and the monstrosity known as “brutalist architecture”. In our world where it seems that everything has been politicized, crudity is no longer just crudity, it has become something with grave political significance. And that deserves our attention.