Heroes and Villains 1 - the House of Commons vs Kim Jong-un

Welcome to the first edition of Heroes and Villains, a weekly column where I take you through the people, ideas and institutions that have made the Earth a better or worse place to be.

The Hero - The UK House of Commons

I mean, this is just plain embarrassing. The Tories, a capital-C conservative party, have pushed legislation in favour of gay marriage through the British House of Commons. The Tories. Half their members still believe in the genetic supremacy of the aristocracy. And sure, over half of their members voted against the measure, but that couldn't stop it from being passed overwhelmingly 400-175. And why? Because it was publicly popular. Just like it is here. Yet our leaders are so goddamn scared and small and undeserving of the phrase "leader" that they're willing to hang themselves on the wrong side of history simply because they're worried they might scare off a couple of voters. So to Tony and Julia I say: Grow a pair (of whatever genital arrangement takes your fancy) and make this one supreme gesture towards love and equality and acceptance. We reject our role as a moral light of the world every day that we hold back.

The Sidekick - Hillary Clinton

Remember when Hillary Clinton was merely the spurned woman, the victim of her husband's relentless philandering? Me neither. Why? Because she has spent pretty much every intervening minute since that time being awesome. Including this inimitable moment last year when she took part in her own meme.

But there are few instances of a woman so comprehensively emerging from their husband's shadow as has happened with Hillary Clinton. From domestic casualty of the Presidency, the woman has climbed up and up, stamping herself as one of the highest achieving members of the US Senate, getting within a hairs breadth of becoming the first female President and then overcoming her rivalry with that race's eventual victor in order to be one of the highest achieving, most popular Secretaries of State in American history. The woman flew almost 1 million miles in four years. That is some intensive diplomacy right there. And through it all she has carried the flame of women's rights, pushing for their emancipation and education and even making it a defining feature of the Obama Presidency. Age 65, she has now "retired" from public life, but I'll eat a Buick if she's not angling for the Presidency in 4 years. And barring a wholesale turnaround in the pro-white men vibe of the Republican party, this time the historical revolution will be hers to make. Bill who?

The Villain - Kim Jong-un

The entire line of North Korean Kims, from Kim Il-sung through to Kim Jong-un, are so manifestly and parodically evil as to almost make their inclusion on this list redundant, but even so sometimes I think it is worth standing back for a second and admiring the sheer scale of their villainy. I mean, this is the sort of family whose out-and-out brutality, venality and inhumanity can make Joe Stalin look like a man of the people. When he took over at 29(ish), Kim Jong-un was a breath of fresh air for the regime, but his program of modernisation basically stopped at allowing his wife to appear in public with him. You do get the feeling that the younger Kim is probably just a puppet of the generals who keep him in power, but that still doesn't excuse his maintenance of a dystopic police state that stands so far beyond anything Orwell could have imagined as to fairly accuse 1984 of lacking imagination. And then this week there was this:

Which, if you lack a handy three minutes, is a propaganda video which shows North Korea nuking New York City while "We Are the World" plays. And while "We Are the World" could probably be accused of being its own little bit of imperialist propaganda, it does seem a bit harsh to deploy it while razing New York City to the ground. The gesture is part of North Korea's latest episode in sabre-rattling and comes in the lead-up to what is expected to be the country's third nuclear test, but shouldn't be construed as an act of aggression so much as it is the equivalent of hanging a sign reading "Give Us Food. Then Fuck Off" on their front fence. Even at their most insane, there's no way North Korea is about to nuke New York, but nuclear capability is basically North Korea's way of forcing the world to leave them alone as they force their people to die from starvation. It remains the world's pre-eminent unsolvable problem and that's why Kim Jong-un is our Villain of the Week.

The Minion - Ricky Nixon

From what I can understand, even at his best Ricky Nixon seems to be the kind of guy that demands new variants on the phrase "douche_____" (For example, "Oi Ricky, you douchepyramid"). He's the sort of guy we like to keep in the public eye because everything he does is so uniformly bad. Breaking up his marriage to sleep with a 17-year-old? Check. Getting photographed doing white powder in his underwear by the same 17-year-old? Check. Getting out of sport so he can get into stand-up comedy? As of this week, for some God unknown reason, check. As one could probably expect this drew a fair amount of ridicule from other comedians, mainly because seemingly unbeknownst to him Ricky is the joke rather than the maker of them. The excellent Hannah Gadsby waded into the fray, which resulted in Nixon calling her "ugly" and then adding "apparently she is the worse female comedian going around cant even buy a laugh.'' [sic] Then there was this:

He is performing his show "The Chicken Train" at the Comics Lounge in Melbourne in late March. It will, depressingly, almost definitely sell out, just proving once and for all that sub-literate douchepyramids truly can be successful in this world.

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