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If you’re not familiar with the work of Billy Bragg, you’re missing out on something great. Billy is perhaps the greatest lyricist working today, one of only a few people who writes real, insightful poetry and puts it to music. His songs are astute observations, brilliant couplets and complicated insights made accessible to everyone who listens.

One of the most rewarding parts of Billy’s work is the humor that he finds in everything. It’s surprising, then, that his most vocal fans are the most self-important, insufferable people that you’ll ever encounter. To the fan I’m describing, nothing is funny unless s/he said it. The Insufferables feel themselves the last word in every discussion, whether it’s politics, economics, religion, or toilet paper. I know that these awful souls aren’t the majority of Bragg fans, but, unfortunately, they’re often the most visible.

I’ve struggled with this since becoming a Bragg fan in the early 90s. The Insufferables reading that last sentence will unanimously say “I knew it!” That’s because a fan dating from that period probably discovered Billy with the release of “Don’t Try This At Home,” his most commercial release. Naturally, my politics will then be called into question.

For the record, I am, just like the Insufferables, a dedicated leftist. Unlike them, however, I realize a major component of the general failure of leftist movements is the dour seriousness that alienates all but the most dedicated ideologues. A second component, no less serious than the first, is the outright arrogance so prevalent in Progressive movements-- nobody willing to compromise because everyone is convinced of their individual intellectual superiority. The Insufferables embody these problems.

When some friends and I decided to solicit hate mail through the fictional crank Dan Adler a few years ago, one of our targets was this group of awful, rabid fans. We wrote reviews of Billy Bragg CDs and posted them to The reviews were so over-the-top clueless and paranoid anti-Left that we worried about them being immediately recognized as a joke. However, The Insufferables have no sense of irony and sent hate mail, even going so far as to include the fictitious Dan in an email discussion of how stupid they felt that he was.

Later, we elected to create a Billy Bragg Fan Fiction page. The concept was that clueless teenagers had begun writing stories about Billy much like the real fan fiction written about boy bands. We heaped product placement and “low culture” references in these stories, hoping to provide even more fuel for The Insufferables vitriol. It took a long time for the stories to be found, but eventually it worked and the response was hilarious.

Ever enjoyed something tremendously and were afraid to admit it for fear of being associated with reprehensible people?

It’s better to exploit the underlying ugliness than to suffer in silence.

The Original Page At This URL

The amateurish web page left as bait for these winners, including links to the fake fan fiction.

The Billy Bragg Discussion Forum

See humorless, megalomaniacal ideologues in their own environment, where they snipe about the quality of each others’ posts as much as real topics.

Dan Adler’s World

The web site of fictitious opiner Dan Adler, intended to flesh him out as believably existent and creepy.

The Insufferables Write to Dan

With feedback from Dan and the equally fake object of his affection, “Sarah Lomax,” who was mailed the discussion in an attempt to embarrass a work of fiction.

Dan Adler’s Billy Bragg Reviews

Read the unreal reviews that received real negative feedback. The Bragg reviews are mixed in with some others. The non-Bragg reviews might be worth a read, too.