"Bad-ass gangsta, Willie O'Dea was itching to pop a cap in someone's ass. His 'blood' – the Rubberbandits – were being dissed by The Man on Liveline. Word."
I like to imagine that these were the hip hop-style words that ran through O'Dea's head as he defended 'Horse Outside' on RTE last week. Gangsta Willie (aka 'will-E O-D') was in street-fighting form as he said critics of the song should "get a life".
The Rubberbandits, if you haven't heard of them, purvey a brand of Culchie Gangsta Rap – let's call it 'C-Rap' – that isn't to everyone's liking. They sing about how owning a horse is more effective at 'scoring' with girls than owning a fast car. "F**k your Honda Civic, I've a horse outside." The horse had been traded for a "bag of yokes".
Their 'counter culture' routine is anarchic, silly and very funny. So funny that their YouTube video had racked up 2.5 million hits by last night.
Willie is turning into a bit of a counter- culture character himself. Remember the handgun photo in the Irish Times? (Super B-a-a-a-a-d.) Now he's on top of the zeitgeist with a new-found love of hip hop. Somehow, I suspect that when Willie first heard "Ah'll pop a cap in yo ass" he thought it was a flat cap – possibly made of Harris tweed.
Anyway, he gets the joke: The Rubberbandits are lampooning their city's drug culture. Anthony from Limerick didn't. He was outraged at the duo's portrayal of his home town. He kept repeating "It's a joke, Joe", which it was – although he didn't realise it. Blind Boy from The Rubberbandits rang in to explain that they were being ironic.
"It's a joke," said Anthony, bitterly.
"Yes, it IS a joke," said Blind Boy, but Anthony still didn't get it.
"Are you putting that voice on?" asked Joe of Blind Boy, with an audible wrinkle of his nose.
"Are YOU putting THAT voice on, Joe?" replied Blind Boy.
It was probably the funniest Liveline ever, with more knee-jerking than an Irish dance contest. I had to stop myself ringing in to tell Anthony that Father Ted's 'My Lovely Horse' is actually about heroin. My favourite moment was when Silly Willie suddenly rushed off after realising he had the IMF vote to go to. It's not often I'll say this, but I agree with Willie. The song's critics should get a life.
The over-reaction was typically Limerick. Its ultra-sensitivity means you can't report or comment on crime there without getting the 'Dublin media is out to get us' line (which Willie often uses himself).
On Wednesday, it appeared that Limerick was turning on its own for portraying areas of the city as gang-ridden and deprived – which they are. One horrified councillor even reprimanded The Rubberbandits for joking that Limerick "knew nothing" about rugby. Seriously.
The whingers who fail to see that 'Horse Outside' satirises a mindset, rather than a place, are just making idiots of themselves. Are kids going to rush out and buy drugs because of a song which portrays Limerick users as skangers? No. Are kids going to join the IRA because of The Rubberbandits' 'Up The Ra'? Don't be daft.
One of the more annoying consequences of the po-faced reaction was that it led to Blind Boy having to explain himself. Once you give the game away, the reactionaries win. Dustin the Turkey has never revealed himself, sticking to the rule that it's the character, not the actor, that's important.
'Horse Outside' is giving the majority of Irish people a laugh – something we need at the moment. In its own silly way it's doing something positive for Ireland's mental health. It's taking a dark subject and undermining it through satire. Humour is a great umbrella when the world is peeing on your head.
On a far more serious note: the 'Horse Outside' nonsense highlighted the lack of a meaningful debate on RTÉ about middle-class cocaine use in the aftermath of Gerry Ryan's toxicology report.
Ireland is in the grip of a coke epidemic according to the UN, and the best the station could come up with was a debate about how a spoof song could turn kids on to drugs. The Rubberbandits lampoon a sham reality created by certain Limerick types. I'm looking forward to the day someone does the same with the sham reality created by Ireland's social set. Their self-indulgent, coke-snorting ways have created the kind of characters portrayed by the Bandits. The 'Horse Outside' debate also highlighted one other thing: does Willie O'Dea have nothing better to do with his time?
I am now officially 'over' The Rubberbandits, by the way. They sold out when they agreed to do the Late Late. They're the new Crystal Swing, man.
I'm serving notice here that Willie O'Dea and I are taking them on after Christmas. We're forming a new middle-aged hip hop outfit (okay, it's more cHip sHop than hip hop). We're calling ourselves 'Crystal Meth Swing'.
Come here till I pop this flat cap in yo ass, Willie.