Charlie Brooker on G20 Protests and the Media

Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe has been a bit up and down so far, but Charlie excelled himself last night with his review of the G20 summit. You can see it on the iPlayer here. In particular, his review of the TV news coverage of the protests, which begins at 14 mins 36 secs, is fantastic, and provides a nice overview of the relationship between the protests, the media, and the possibility (and later actuality) of violence occuring at the protests.

An honourable mention also to Ben Goldacre‘s piece on the MMR non-story, which begins at 11:34.

In fact, just watch the whole thing, it’s ace.

NB. Probably not work-safe, thanks to Mr. Goldacre’s dirty mouth, and Ant and Dec’s senseless killing of a dog.

Daniel Hannan, Guido and the American Right

Guido is terribly proud that Daniel Hannan’s speech, straight out of the Guido playbook of diagnosing Gordon Brown’s “pathologies” and wrapping himself in libertarian bollocks, has become something of an internet sensation. Noting that the clip has attracted the attention of such illustrious organs as the Drudge Report, he declares:

Cometh the hour, cometh the man – we are all ditto-heads now; Rushies and the Co-Conspirators.

He slightly surprises me with his eagerness to take up the mantle of “dittohead“, but it fits like a charm. After all, doesn’t Guido’s blog have exactly the same right-wing echo chamber effect as Rush and Fox News do for the US? Isn’t his comments thread full of the same brand of half-sentient hate-spewing twats that call Rush? Guido seems to be embracing the comparison before any of his regular critics really articulated it properly, just to block off that particular line of attack.

Anyway, on to the clip itself. Since it was released on Tuesday, it has become remarkably well exposed; yesterday it was the most watched clip on YouTube. So is it all that remarkable? Well, to be fair, it’s well crafted, to the point, snappy, and clearly expresses Hannan’s position. What’s more surprising is that it achieved this without much exposure at all from the MSM in the UK. Interestingly, Hannan has become something of a hero to the US right, with Rush Limbaugh (de facto leader of the Republicans) endorsing his words, Fox News cheerleader for the markets Neil Cavuto interviewing him, and well known crazy person Glen Beck inviting him on his show too.

Why, then, are the UK Conservatives not more proud of him? Hannan seems to be viewed by his own party as a slightly loose cannon, being one of the more headbanging eurosceptics in the party, a cheerleader for joining the loony fringe of Europe, and in fact he’s already been expelled from the EPP himself.

In many ways, the interviews with the US media are rather more revealing than the speech itself. In the Cavuto interview, he pretty much takes ownership of being the”do nothing” party (look at about 3 mins in), and answers “yes” in response to the question “in the same situation [of the US banking crisis], would you have said “Let ’em rip”?”.

I have to say, watching those videos is quite entertaining in at least one respect: the right wings of both our countries are currently maintaining that their particular screamingly socialist government is taking their country to much lower depths than are to be found anywhere else in the world. The result, when you bring the two together, is a pissing contest. Witness much claiming to have it worst from both sides of the pond.

The most amusing bit, though, is this big stompy red quote from Guido: “It is the speech that many Republicans wish they had someone to deliver to Obama“. Um, no. The Republicans have plenty of populist ranters who could deliver a little mini-speech like this. Trouble is, none of them could say it with a straight face, because unlike Gordon Brown, Barack Obama hasn’t been in the driving seat for the last ten years. He’s been there for three months. If the Republicans tried to pull this, they would rightly be derided, because it was George Bush who turned a surplus inherited from Clinton into a deficit.

Daniel Hannan is said to be somewhat perplexed at the traction he has achieved in the US. Let me help you out, Daniel: It’s a distraction. Like so much that the Republican noise machine does, it’s a talking point to try to prove a point from a country with different circumstances to those of the US, and then import the “take home message” to the US, without people noticing the bait and switch they’ve just been offered whereby something that reflects badly on the Republicans becomes the fault of “socialists” over there in Yerp. There’s a reason they’d rather talk about the backstory in someone else’s country: it’s because they’ve only been the opposition for three months, and most of that backstory in the US is their backstory.

Ross and Brand: Where Did The Anger Come From?

The main sense I have this evening is that much of the venom towards Ross and Brand is coming from people who have never liked them in the first place. 2 people complained about the original broadcast, but the day it hit the tabloids this number started creeping up over 1000, the next day it shot up to 10,000, and by today this number had hit 27,000.

Sorry, what? Isn’t this a bit ridiculous? I mean, that’s the order of magnitude of the Big Brother racism row. What is driving people to complain, exactly? That they feel sorry for Andrew Sachs? Because by the time most of the complaints were registered, Ross and Brand had already offered sincere apologies to Andrew Sachs. It’s notable that Russell Brand, in his probably correctly judged resignation tonight, is at pains to make it clear that he feels the need to make a statement only for Sachs and Georgina Baillie’s sake, not for the sake of the media storm it has sparked.

Now let me make it clear that I don’t think what Brand and Ross did was especially funny, and I think it was right that they should have apologised. But what strikes me as odd here is the point that people who think they are being clever keep making: “Well, the real question is why their editors broadcast such an offensive piece of radio.” No. No it isn’t. The issue is that they made some calls that upset Andrew Sachs. They should have apologised even if it wasn’t broadcast. The fact it was broadcast is neither here nor there – a fact the show’s regular audience recognised, since nobody who ordinarily listened to the show actually complained about this aspect (the 2 initial complaints were about Ross’s language, specifically).

To my mind, people going on the internet to play back clips that they’ve heard might offend them, with the express intention of being offended and complaining about it, is utterly bizarre. I suspect that much of the anger here is being driven by people who have long felt that Jonathan Ross’s salary was completely inexplicable, and resented the BBC’s belief in what they seem to feel are his unique abilities.

Today, I was sat in a cafe having lunch, while a table of three older ladies behind me had a good mither about the whole thing. It was pretty clear to me that they, like most of the people in this vox pop video, just dislike Ross, and feel he has no place on TV. “I’ve never liked him. He took over that Film 2000 from whatshisname…” “Oh, Barry Norman.” “Yes, that one. He was good, I used to watch him. It was never the same after that Jonathan Ross took over. He’s awful.”* Not once was the specific incident discussed. What was discussed was their general distaste for Ross and Brand’s personas more generally.

What this incident has done is create a flashpoint for a large but disparate anger over these two performers, and in particular Jonathan Ross. If Ross gets through this with his job intact, he would be well advised to ask for a pay cut.

*Whilst I quote this story as an example of what I think are the wrong reasons to want Ross sacked, I can’t say I entirely disagree with them about The Film Programme. If Ross goes, can we have someone who can actually review things as if he actually cared about them? Mark Kermode, perhaps? They could do a lot worse, when presumably Film 2008 isn’t on this week (what with Ross’s suspension), than to simply broadcast an edited copy of the video webcast of Kermode’s Radio 5 reviews on Simon Mayo’s show.