Watching Black Watch

Black Watch: porn for the theatregoing classes
Why the London literati is lapping up a play about sexist, smoking, foul-mouthed British squaddies in Iraq.

...the show acquires a further twist, with the men seen through the eyes of the slightly camp character researching the play. He is ridiculed as a molly-coddled ‘poof’ in contrast to these hardy, heterosexual men. And through him the play embodies another question. Why are the liberal middle-classes so fascinated by men they would normally revile as sexist, homophobic, monosyllabic bullies? Men who are very unlikely to eat five a day, so much as to smoke 40.

The answer is surely that they represent something intensely ‘real’ to the safe, sedentary neurosis of middle-class life. The extremity of their experience, of killing and being killed in Iraq. fills in the void left by a cosy life not fully lived. These men’s experience seems somehow more ‘authentic’. As such, they become vehicles for sordid fantasies of vicarious heroism which is also how they are treated in less explicit, more sanitised ways by the media. No wonder these men all seem so angry - consumers of porn they find themselves acting out the pornographic fantasies of others.