Posts Tagged ‘Brass Eye’

Chunky Mark on the Conservatives’ War against Social Media

December 13, 2017

This is another post on the same general topic as the piece I’ve just put up about Google trying to scare people away from RT America, by claiming that their comedian, Lee Camp, is influenced by Vladimir Putin. Well, obviously, ’cause Putin’s a notorious underground comedian with some great one-liners. Er, no, he isn’t. And claims that he’s influenced the content and bias of RT America are greatly exaggerated. According to Abby Martin, the people at RT America are there because it’s the only media outlet that allows leftists and Socialists to express their views, not because they’re fans of the Russian president.

But the Tories and media over here are trying to do the same, spreading lies and fear and about RT in Britain, and alternative media generally. In this clip from Chunky Mark, the Artist Taxi Driver, the shouty media commentator tears apart two front-page stories on the tabloids. One is from the Heil declaring that ‘Social Media Is Tearing Britain Apart’, while the other claims that Twitter is full of paedos. Chunky Mark immediately rebuts the first claim by saying that it’s the Mail that’s tearing Britain apart.

He makes the point that the Tories and Conservative media, including the Beeb and the right-wing press, are scared of the new media because it’s giving a voice to ordinary people. They’re seeing through the right-wing lies peddled by John Humphries and Nick Ferrari. Ferrari has been declared ‘journalist of the year’, despite a sycophantic interview with Theresa May, in which he asked her if she had any cookery books. The media hates Jeremy Corbyn, because he genuinely cares about people. They, on the other hand, just want to find and demonise scapegoats – Muslims, immigrants, the poor, the disabled. They’re scared, and so they’re doing their level best to scare people away from social media, and what the people on it are saying about them. They are trying to take your agency away, the agency that sees through their lies and propaganda

Chunky Mark’s right. It was social media that brought Obama to power when people thought he was a genuine, radical candidate, rather than another corporate shill intent on keeping America’s highly profitable imperialist wars going. Momentum in Britain has exerted a massive influence in favour of Jeremy Corbyn through the Net. But it hasn’t just been Momentum. Ordinary people everywhere have spontaneously backed the Labour leader. And that really frightens the Tories and their mouthpieces in the media. The masses are getting out of control! They aren’t accepting what the Beeb or the papers say! The corporate elite might lose some of their money and power. The papers are losing their authority to dictate what the public thinks, as is the Beeb. And if that goes, so does all their advertising revenue, ’cause what business is going to pay to advertise with a paper nobody reads, or takes very seriously. Hence, massive panic on the right.

As for the claim that Twitter is alive with paedophiles, I’ve no doubt paedophiles are on there. Along with just about everyone else. But this all harks back to the massive scare the Scum and the other papers worked up about paedophiles well over a decade ago, which was lampooned by Chris Morris in the infamous ‘Paedogeddon’ special of Brass Eye. Rebecca Wade was in charge of the Scum at the time, and under her stirred up such a panic that lynch mobs were prowling the streets. Private Eye reported a case in Cardiff where an angry mobs vandalised the offices of a paediatrician. Because obviously paedophiles are going to announce their presence with a brass plaque and academic letters after their name. It was a successful move for the papers, as it sold many more copies despite the fear it was spreading and the harm it posed to ordinary, decent people.

I think Nick Ferrari used to be one of the Scum’s journos. He’s one of the reasons my parents stopped watching the Alan Titchmarsh Show. He was on their just about every day, or however often it was screened, giving his own right-wing opinions, to which Titchmarsh responded without demur. And the Beeb’s John Humphries a little while ago managed to cause widespread offence when he said something on the lines that if you were poor, it was your own fault, and the rich shouldn’t be punished for it. Which just tells you that however much Humphries is paid, it’s way too much. And I’ve no doubt that Humphries attitude is common throughout the Beeb and its management.

The Conservatives and establishment media are very scared about the threat the internet and social media pose to their ability to ‘shape the narrative’ and tell people what to think. Which is why they’re running scare stories about Russian influence on RT, the socially disruptive effects of social media, and the threat of paedophiles stalking us all through cyberspace. That’s there, but they’re deliberately exaggerating the danger.

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Vox Political on the Silence of the Hillsborough Liars

April 27, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has posted up a piece giving credit for the Metro laying out today’s cover, so it looked like that of the notorious issue of the Scum which lied about the Hillsborough disaster and the behaviour of the Liverpool fans. He also states that the revelations have been greeted with silence by the Scum and Bernard Ingham, Maggie’s press secretary, who made some of the appalling smears.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/27/silence-wont-save-the-liars-who-defamed-the-football-fans-at-hillsborough/

I think the Scum has made an apology about the disaster, but only after it changed its editor. The editor of the paper at the time was Kelvin MacKenzie, who has never apologised. Unfortunately, his mendacity hasn’t harmed his career one bit. The last time I saw him on TV, he was a regular, along with Nick Ferrari, another right-wing hack, on the Alan Titchmarsh show on daytime TV.

As for Bernard Ingham, he was nicknamed ‘Thatcher’s Rotweiler’, and had the same hatreds and political instincts as his mistress. He resents being described as a ‘spin doctor’, but as he was her press secretary, that was more or less what he was, and that’s where the rot started, although I’ve no doubt that No. 10 was managing the content of news stories long before then.

Ingham was, along with another of other celebs, caught out on ’90s TV by the edgy funster Chris Morris in his spoof news programme, Brass Eye. This had a section where various celebrities and personalities read out fake messages warning people of some imaginary threat, or campaigning for a very spurious good cause. Like Paul Daniels telling the world about ‘elephant tipping’ in Libya, and the elephant that had got its trunk caught up its bottom. In Ingham’s case, he was made to look very stupid along with his parliamentary colleague, David Amess, the MP for Basildon, and a whole host of TV personalities including Jimmy Greaves, Noel Edmonds, Bernard Manning and Rolf Harris, by reading out a warning about a fake synthetic drug, Cake. Cake was ‘a made-up drug’. One pill was the size of a dinner plate, and it had to be swallowed all in one gulp. It worked by affecting part of the brain called ‘Shatner’s Bassoon’, and was responsible for terrible physical side effects. It was made in Czechoslovakia, and so the goitres it produced on the necks of its addicts were known as ‘Czech neck’. And one girl was so sick with it, she threw up her own hip bone. This is, as you doctor should tell you, physically impossible. And the statement ‘Cake is a made-up drug’ should have alerted Ingham, as it alerted the viewers, that what was coming was a load of rubbish. But Morris and his crew were so persuasive, and Ingham so blinded with his own ego, that he failed to get the joke.

Well, twenty years or so ago, Ingham and MacKenzie lied about the deaths of 96 innocent people, and smeared them and a great British city. And that’s no joke. Their silence about the matter suggests that they are completely unrepentant. Their only remorse is over the fact that they got caught.

Here’s that section from Brass Eye, so you can share some of Morris’ ‘disgusting bliss’.

Back to Censorship with the Tories

June 6, 2015

One of the reforms now being mooted by the Tories is the introduction of legislation to allow the Broadcasting Standards Authority to intervene in a possibly controversial or offensive programme before broadcast. This is, of course, censorship, and the Tories are well aware of what a hot potato this issue is. Mike’s already reported on his blog over at Vox Political the reaction of Sajid Javid, who has apparently raised some objections to it. It’s ‘apparent’, as Mike considers that Javid’s objections are merely cosmetic formalities. The decision has already been made, but the Tories are presenting a façade of objections in order to stave off criticism that they are all in favour of it.

In fact, sections of the Tory party have for some time now bitterly objected to what they see as appallingly lax, permissive standards on television and the theatre. A few years ago, one of the High Tories with either the Daily Mail, the Spectator or possibly the Telegraph, wrote a piece declaring that British society had been wrecked by the evil Roy Jenkins. Why Roy Jenkins, of all people? After all, Woy was hardly some Marxist or other radical Left firebrand, determined to destroy capitalism. He was one of the founders of the SDP. Some idea of his character can be seen in Gerald Scarfe’s description of him as having ‘a good claret face’.

Nevertheless, the Tory right despises him as the personification of the very worst aspects of the Sixties. It was Woy Jenkins as home secretary in the 1960s, who ended censorship in the theatre, legalised homosexuality and removed the property qualification for jury service. This meant that all kinds of ‘orrible filth was allowed on stage, to the consternation of Mary Whitehouse and the other members of her Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association. The judiciary became soft of crime, because the great unwashed now allowed to judge whether defendants were guilty in the courtroom were not respectable householders, and so had no interest in defending property rights. And most heinous of all, gays were allowed the freedom to indulge their sexuality in the privacy of their own homes, instead of being arrested and properly punished for the threat they posed to society.

Looking back, the restrictions on what was considered suitable for performance, either broadcast, or on stage, was quite severe. Michael Bentin, one of the Goons, said in his one man show, From the Sublime to the Paranormal, way back in the 1990s that the Beeb’s regulations forbade them from making jokes about the following:

The monarchy

Disability

The colour question

‘Effeminacy’ in men

and they couldn’t blaspheme.

They remembered all this through the mnemonic ‘My God, said the Queen, I do believe that one-eyed N*gger’s a poof’. According to the regulations, this would be the single most unbroadcastable sentence possible.

Of course, this censorship became increasingly untenable as popular attitudes changed and traditional authority came under increasing questioning, not least during the satire boom. Ways could be found for entrepreneurs to get round the statutory requirement for theatres to submit their scripts to the Lord Chamberlain for approval before they were staged. And the restriction’s became increasingly anachronistic and absurd. Peter Cook in an interview with Clive James back in the 1990s gave an example of just how absurd and unworkable they were. One of the plays he staged at his club, The Establishment, began with the line ‘Enter three terrible old queens’. Obviously, this violated the prohibition against the portrayal of homosexuals. The script came back covered in blue pencil. They then changed the line to ‘Enter three aesthetic young men’. This, however, was deemed completely accepted and duly passed.

The lifting of those restrictions thus prepared the way for the portrayal of racism and discussions of racial issues in Til Death Us To Part, with Alf Garnett on TV and the extremely camp characters, Julian and Sandy, on the radio comedy series, Round the Horne. Their sexuality was never clearly stated in English, but they spoke in Parlary, the language of actors and the gay underground. And if you understood that, then it was. There were numerous lines about men being ‘omee palones’. ‘Omee’ is the Parlary word for man. ‘Palone’ meant woman, and ‘Omee palone’ was the term used to mean a gay. So, provided you knew the lingo, it was pretty much in front of you all the time, even if the BBC never dared to say it quite outright.

As for the increasingly questioning attitude towards authority, this appalled members of the older generation to the extent that twenty years after it was broadcast, the BBC’s foremost political journalist and broadcaster, Robin Day, still declared That Was The Week That Was ‘deplorable’ in his autobiography, Grand Inquisitor, when it was published in the 1980s. The Tories would dearly love to drag the country back to situation before 1968/9, when there was due to deference to the monarchy and established authority, and the airwaves were full of clean, wholesome family entertainment without the sex and violence that they feel is destroying the British family and sending crime figures shooting up.

It’s highly debatable how far the reactionary Right can turn the clock back to the 1950s. Homosexuality is still bitterly opposed and hated in some sections of British society, but it’s been so widely accepted elsewhere since the 1980s that the Tories have been forced to support gay marriage. Weirdly, even UKIP, which has viciously attacked gay rights, has now gone so far as to want to take part in a gay price march in London. Society generally has accepted premarital sex and the depiction of nudity and some sexual activity on TV – as long as it’s broadcast after the watershed, that it’s hard to see how an outright ban on this could ever be possible or be seen as anything other than ridiculous. Quite apart from the fact that viewers are able to see sexually explicit and violent movies on DVD or the internet in their own homes, and in films at the cinema.

This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be some standards, especially when dealing with sex and extremely controversial topics like race. It does mean that the standards have moved so far since the days of censorship that its return would be difficult, unpopular and probably so riddled with complications, contradictions and exceptions as to be unworkable. One example of the latter was the prohibition of the Thatcher government against directly broadcasting statements by terrorists in their own voices. It was introduced to prevent organisations like paramilitaries in Northern Ireland and their associated political parties, like Sinn Fein, from gaining ‘the oxygen of publicity.’ So the TV companies simply resorted to voice actors imitating their voices while quoting their statements. The policy then had to be abandoned, because some of the impressions of the terrorists and their politicians, like Gerry Adams, were so good that they were actually indistinguishable from the people themselves.

And even before the policy was finally abandoned, it was spoofed and something of a laughing stock. The Day Today, the BBC spoof news show, which was the precursor to Chris Morris’ classic and highly controversial comedy, Brass Eye, sent up the restrictions in one edition. This featured an interviewed with a supposed Irish Republican politician, who, ‘in accordance with government broadcasting requirements’, was required to breath helium to make him sound as ridiculous as possible when giving his statement to journalists.

Moreover, any mention of censorship by that very term is extremely controversial. Way back in the 1980s or ’90s the British Board of Film Censors decided to change its name to the British Board of Film Classification as something that sounded much better and far less authoritarian. It’s interesting that the new legislation to allow the Broadcasting Standards Authority to intervene before broadcast has not been described as such. Nevertheless, censorship is what it is.

There is, of course, a much more sinister aspect to the Tories’ planned reintroduction of censorship. They’d like to have complete control over the news before its broadcast, to manipulate its content and control public attitudes. News analysts and media watchers have already noted that the BBC in its reportage is biased towards the Tories, but this isn’t enough for them. Any criticism, not matter how mild, is always denounced as evidence of the Beeb’s liberal bias. This is particularly self-serving when one considers how many of those making the denunciations have connections to Murdoch, who would dearly love the BBC to be reduced, privatised or completely abolished so he could grab some of its broadcasting action.

Private Eye have also published pieces pointing out just how many journalists from the Right-wing press, and associated in particular with Cameron, have gone off to work for the Beeb, contradicting the claims of the Telegraph and Times that there is a revolving door between the Beeb and the Labour party. This is, apparently, shown by the appointment of Andrew Marr as one of the Corporation’s leading political journalists. He is a member of the ‘left-wing’ establishment, as he was editor of the Independent, before taking up his position at the Beeb way back in the 1980s.

Thatcher’s government in particular acted at least twice to try and prevent the broadcast of critical programmes, or destroy the broadcasting companies that did. These were the programmes, ‘Maggie’s Militant Tendency’, an edition of the Beeb’s documentary and current affairs series, Panorama, and the ITV programme, Death on the Rock. ‘Maggie’s Militant Tendency’ annoyed the Tories because of its claim that they had been infiltrated by members of the extreme Right, such as the National Front, in order to radicalise it further, similar to the way the Labour Party had been infiltrated by the Marxist Militant Tendency. They therefore tried all they could to stop it being shown. Death on the Rock was about the shooting of a squad of IRA terrorists in Gibraltar as they were preparing to attack a British army base. The programme alarmed and angered Maggie as it showed that there was no need for the shooting of the terrorists. They had been under observation at almost every point in their journey to the Rock, and could have been picked up and arrested safely, with the minimum of violence, at a number of times before their final battle with the British army. This wasn’t a defensive battle, but a staged execution of the terror squad, intended to punish the IRA and send a clear message that future attempts at terrorism would be dealt with the same way. It also seems to support the allegation of Colin Wallace and others, published by Lobster, that special SAS squads had been embedded in the British army in Northern Ireland in order to carry out similar executions of Nationalists.

Thatcher, however, denied that the shooting of the IRA terrorists in Gibraltar was anything of the sort. She and her cabinet were so annoyed at the programme that the ITV broadcaster lost its licence, and was replaced instead by Carlton. The very name of that company recalls the Tories’ Carlton Club in London, and suggested their political allegiance, or at least compliance, with Maggie’s demands. Despite Maggie’s denials, Lady Olga Maitland later gave the game away in her biography of the Iron Lady published later, where she said that the terrorists were shot as a punishment, rather than killed from self-defence.

And if the Tories were upset and tried to ban hostile programmes, they also harbour long grudges about programmes supporting them which the Beeb didn’t broadcast. Every so often you can read one of the Tory journos griping in the Daily Heil or one of the other rags about the Beeb’s bias in not broadcasting a play about Maggie and the Falklands War. This had a pro-Thatcher perspective, and included a scene showing her crying about the squaddies, who had been killed by the Argentinians in the conflict. I find it hard to believe that Maggie shed any tears for anyone, except herself and her immediate family, but this might be right. Either way, it was not broadcast, and the Tories have bitterly resented this and used it regularly as a cudgel to beat the BBC for its supposed left-wing bias ever since.

If the Tories manage to get their way with the new broadcasting bill and its provisions, you can expect their control of the media to be more or less absolute. Mike and many of the other left-wing bloggers have pointed out how protests are not reported by the BBC, or given minimal, grudging coverage. This included a massive demonstration of tens, if not hundreds of thousands, outside the Beeb’s own doorstep. This will only get worse with the Tories’ plans for the Broadcasting Standards Authority to act before broadcast. There will be even less hostile or oppositional coverage of the Tories and their policies, and instead much more programming supporting them. Of course, this could ultimately damage the established broadcast media, as more people would turn to the internet, and foreign news channels to get an idea of what was going on here. It’s happened already, in that Russia Today and the Iranian Press TV have already given extensive coverage to protests and demonstrations against the Coalition and their cuts, which the Beeb and British broadcasters have done their best to ignore as far as possible.

The political dimensions to this new censorship won’t be introduced explicitly. Instead, it’ll be like Cameron’s proposed legislation trying to censor the internet. It’ll be promoted and set up under the pretext of protecting impressionable Brits from porn and other objectionable material. The Daily Mail will no doubt celebrate it as the return of proper protection for the vulnerable children watching TV. Nevertheless, it will come in. The Tories will do what they normally do, and lie and deny that it is censorship, but this will be exactly what it is. And another British freedom will have been destroyed to make the world safe and profitable for them and their corporate backers.

Cameron Has Killed at 2,200 People’ : Frankie Boyle at the 2014 Television Festival

January 24, 2015

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This follows on from the question Mike raised in the previous post Class divide in the arts – are they just for the toffs? at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/01/24/class-divide-in-the-arts-is-it-just-for-the-toffs/. The controversial Scots comedian, Frankie Boyle, was interviewed last year at the Guardian’s International Television Festival last year by Pointless’s Richard Osman. The interview was a review of the state of television. And Boyle made it very clear that he though British television was being held back by the desire of TV commissioning editors to remain safe. Boyle made it very clear that class attitudes were very definitely a part of this. The interview can be found on Youtube with the title GEITF 2014 – Frankie Boyle: State of the TV Nation.
Boyle on the Two Most Offensive Jokes

Boyle is one of Britain’s very edgiest comedians. Osman tackled him about two of his most controversial jokes. These were about Katie Price being raped by her mentally disabled son, and a disparaging comment about the appearance of the Paralympic swimming heroine, Rebecca Adlington. Osman states that he’s a fan of Boyle, but makes it clear that he feels those jokes should never have been broadcast, and an apology should have been issued. Boyle defended the Katie Price joke by stating that he thought very hard about it. He told it because he felt it was a valid comment about Price. She had two points on which she sold herself: her looks, and her disabled son. She had other, non-handicapped children, who you never heard anything about. Boyle felt that the joke was a suitable comment on Price’s self-publicity.

False Banter on Comedy Panel Shows

Boyle made the comment that television panel shows, like Mock the Week, now relied on banter. It looked like normal conversation, but was all false. It was all scripted. And it was there, because the TV companies did not want to tackle other, more difficult issues. He specifically mentioned the two land wars in which Britain was involved at the time. Five years ago, Boyle said, you could mention them. Now they were verboten. He tried on Mock the Week to make a joke commenting on them, but was told that he couldn’t. As an example of the depths the show how reached now, he said that the last time he watched it had to make jokes about the Ryder Cup. He told the Katie Price joke because for the past ten weeks they’d been making jokes about the Olympics, and then they were being asked to return to them. Boyle’s controversial joke followed soon after.

No Challenge to Cameron’s Murder of the Disabled by Atos

As a further example, Boyle gave the murderous campaign of Cameron against the disabled. He said outright that Cameron had killed at least 2,200 people ‘bottom line’ through Atos and the fit for work test. But he was never challenged. Osman raised the topic of the Channel 4 conspiracy drama, Utopia, as an example of television tackling difficult topics. Boyle stated in his usual forthright terms that the show was rubbish. It was based very much on the type of comics produced by Alan Moore and his ilk. However, Channel 4 had taken all the good material out of it. If they were really determined to produce quality television, they’d hire Alan Moore and co. Instead Channel 4 produced endless programmes genuinely exploiting deformity and sneering at the working class, explicitly mentioning Benefits Street.

TV Bosses’ Misogyny

He criticised the channel bosses for their peculiar ideas of what was ‘fringe’ and ‘mainstream’. He’d tried to get Andrew Newsom on a programme, only to be told that she was too fringe. He felt this was rubbish, as he’d just seen her play at the Royal Albert Hall. He was also sharply critical at television’s very misogynist attitudes. When asked about the issue of quotas, and putting more women and members of ethnic minorities on screen, Boyle said he agreed with them. Regarding the proportion of women on panel shows, he felt it should be 50/50 with men. This, however, was definitely unwelcome to channel bosses. He told how he heard the regular host of a panel show use an extremely crude term for women comedians. It’s extremely coarse, so be warned. The bosses had very definite ideas about how many women should be allowed on a panel show. He tried to get a female comedian on Never Mind the Buzzcocks four times. One of these times he tried to get them to bring on Sarah Millican. He was told that this was not possible, as they already had a female comedian on for that week.

Sack the Bosses, Not Cancel BBC 3

He was very critical of the efforts of the television bosses themselves and their personal failure to increase diversity. He noted that Alan Yentob and the others bewailed the fact that there weren’t enough women and Black people on TV, while doing absolutely nothing about it, despite the fact that it was their jobs. On the subject of the scrapping of BBC 3, the Corporation’s youth channel, Boyle said that the Beeb had admitted they had made a mistake. They had been trying to get young people to watch TV instead of other media. The age demographic for the other channels was very high – in the 50s. Yet they had scrapped the channel in order to concentrate on the internet, which was precisely the thing that was taking da yoof away from TV. When Osman asked Boyle where Boyle would cut to save money, he replied that it would be with the bosses. They formed a useless layer of people, whose job was to stop programme being commissioned, often for the most bizarre reasons.

Class Bias in Satire and the Westminster Bubble

Boyle considered that such satire that was permitted, was only allowed because it came from an upper middle class voice. He gave as examples Peter Cook and Patrick Morris, the creator of Brass Eye. Anything that did not come from that social echelon, which could be easily identified as ‘ironic’, or ‘playing with concepts’, was therefore dangerous and unsettling.

He felt part of the problem was that satire in this country was very newspaper-based. He gave Have I Got News for You and Private Eye as examples. They were stuck in the Westminster bubble and the Westminster cycle as a result. Comedians like Boyle presented a problem, as editors and producers wanted them to produce party political satire, which Boyle didn’t.

Jeremy Clarkson’s a Cultural Tumour

They got on to the different way Boyle and Jeremy Clarkson had been treated by television. Clarkson, like Boyle, made controversial jokes and comments. Boyle, however, declared that Clarkson, whom he described as ‘a cultural tumour’, was acceptable because there was no context for what he said. For example, Boyle had been criticised for a comment he made about Israel during the Gaza conflict. He was attacked as anti-Semitic, an accusation which he denied. Yet when Clarkson was attacked for using the ‘N’ word in nursery rhyme, the head of BBC 1 appeared to defend him and state that he wasn’t racist. Boyle felt this might have been due to rights issues. Most producers, Boyle said, would be happy with 3/4s of the ratings, if the content was less controversial. Clarkson, however, still had his job, which suggested to him that they were afraid to sack him because of the problem of who owned the rights.

The Beeb and Scots Independence

Boyle was also one of those, who support Scots independence. He remarked on the media bias against the independence campaign, and the weird behaviour of David Cameron and the leaders of the ‘No’ team, when they ventured north of the Border. He stated that the Beeb were against independence, because the licence money from Scotland acted a subsidy for the corporation as a whole. Altogether, the BBC gains £300 million from the licence fee in Scotland. Of this, only about £40 million is spent on Scottish programmes. Another £60 million is spent ‘finessing’ programmes produced elsewhere, but which travel up to Scotland. Thus the Beeb effectively got a subsidy of £200 million from Scots viewers.

As for David Cameron, Boyle stated that when he and the ‘No’ coterie travelled up to fair Caledonia, they were so out of place that they looked like time travellers trying to find oil to power their time machine. He was particularly amused by Cameron’s comments about the ‘silent Scottish majority’. He’d never known Scots to be silent about anything.

The Sun

Osman raised the topic of Boyle’s writing for the Sun. Boyle was a left-wing comedian, but there he was, writing for Murdoch. Boyle replied that there were no ‘good’ papers, as far as he was concerned. The Observer, for example, had also cheered on the war in Iraq. He started writing for the Sun because they censored him less than the BBC. He also developed a particular technique of making sure they didn’t take too much out of his work. However, during one newspaper and magazine media event, Boyle had found his material disappearing. He asked why it was suddenly being edited out. He was told that it was because Murdoch himself was up for the event, and liked to edit everything in person. Boyle didn’t believe it was true, but went into the cafeteria early one morning to see Murdoch sat at a table, going through everything with black marker. So perhaps, he concluded, it really was true.

Upbringing of the Ruling Class

As for the ruling class, they were so appalling because of the way they were raised. It was exactly like the Spartans. At seven or eight they were taken away from their parents and placed in an all-male environment. They were then bored with Latin and other useless subjects, in order to inculcate the right attitudes into them ‘like a brainwashing cult’. And then finally and suddenly, sodomy. With this background, no wonder they were like they were.

Drama, Brothel Keeping and the Hedge Fund Managers

And as an example of the way television was reluctant to tackle anything too challenging, he gave the example of a friend of his, who was a professional television writer. The man had been hired to write a story about people trafficking for one of the cop dramas. In the script he subsequently produced, the villain was a hedge fund manager, who went into people smuggling because the returns were so good. This was very definitely not what the Beeb wanted. They told him that instead of a hedge fund manager, the villain was going to be a Russian gangster called ‘Sergey’.

So he subsequently revised the script. The villain was turned into the gangster, Sergey. But in his treatment, Sergey had gone into the people smuggling business, after borrowing money from hedge fund managers, because the return was so spectacular. This was, against, unacceptable. The villain was a Russian gangster called Sergey. He had a black leather jacket and a gun, and he was into people smuggling because he was evil. End of. The story was taken away from the writer for someone else to work on.

A few months later, the cops in New England raided a brothel. It was one of string of them, all run by a hedge fund manager. Because the returns were spectacular. It was a reality that the Beeb had literally not wanted to imagine.

Here’s the interview. Warning: Boyle’s language is at times very coarse, and the jokes about Price and Addlington are offensive.

It’s a fascinating perspective from the state of television today from someone, whose frequently tasteless jokes have almost made him an outsider. Nevertheless, Boyle makes it clear that he thinks very hard about what he says. As for the comments about satire being acceptable if it comes from an establishment voice, he has a point. Even so, Private Eye and Brass Eye at various points in their careers were barely acceptable. When it started out, Private Eye was only stocked by a very few newsagents. I remember ten years ago I took a copy of the Eye into work, and was asked by an older colleague, ‘You don’t actually read that, do you?’ Some of the Eye’s jokes have been considered in such bad taste, such as their cover satirising the mass adulation at the funeral of Princess Di, that newsagents have refused to stock it. As for Brass Eye, that was indeed so extreme in its satire that Grade had to fight hard to save it from cancellation.

As the founders of Private Eye, Richard Ingrams and co themselves made clear, they, Ingrams, Peter Cook and Willie Rushton were all far from outsiders. They were privately educated members of the middle class. Auberon Waugh was the son of the novelist Evelyn, and John Wells had been the headmaster of Eton. You couldn’t get much more establishment than that.

Private Eye also inspired David Frost’s That Was The Week That Was, the ’60s ancestor of popular satirical television. While it’s now regarded as a classic, it was intensely controversial at the time. Even in the 1980s Robin Day, the heavyweight interviewer of politicians on the Beeb, disliked it so much that he described it as ‘deplorable’ in his autobiography, Grand Inquisitor. Satire has become acceptable on TV, only because so many of its producers were respectably middle class, and even they had to work very, very hard.

The @PodDelusion: Why the Daily Mail is Evil

October 7, 2013

After all the satire, rather more serious is this analysis of the Daily Mail and its stories by the @PodDelusion. The video begins with a disturbing description of the Mail’s paparazzi photos of the young children of celebrities, such as Tom Cruise’s six year old daughter, the paper’s attitude towards these tots as glamour figures, and the highly sexualised language used of older, but still young teenage girls. The video then goes on to discuss the Daily Mail’s hatred of atheists and secularists, Muslims, health and safety officer, criminals, the unemployed on welfare benefits and, indeed, the disabled.

It refutes some of the bogus stories and statistics run by the Mail. The Mail printed a story from the material released by Wikileaks allegedly showing that a third of all Muslims supported killing for Islam. In fact, the American diplomatic material the Mail used referred to a story ran by the Daily Mail. Clearly, this is very much a case of circular reportage. In fact, the survey the Mail used to make this claim actually reported that only 3 per cent of Muslim students supported killing to promote or defend Islam. A much larger proportion of Muslims, 28 per cent, said that they agreed only if Islam is under attack. This could, of course, refer to satirical attacks or real physical assaults by people with pitchforks.

He also attacks the Daily Mail’s regular victimisation of the disabled. Another of the bogus statistics the Mail reproduced was that a quarter of people claiming sickness benefit had criminal records, and that three-quarters of people on disability benefit were fit to work. Well, none of these statistics quite show what the Mail claims. The statistics showing the proportion of sick people with criminal records actually doesn’t show any greater criminality than the rest of the population. The proportion of all people in Britain with a criminal record, which may include quite minor offences such as having a few points taken off your licence, is 25 per cent. As for the statistic that 75 per cent of the disabled were fit to work, this included people, who were so ill they did not complete the form. It also included the fifty per cent, who won their case against Atos on appeal.

It also attacks the misogyny of the Daily Mail in running a story claiming that women, who don’t do the housework are at a higher risk of cancer. The speaker says it reads like an Onion parody, but unfortunately, the Mail really did run it.

Finally the speaker reveals why he personally hates the Daily Mail. Shortly before one of his uncle’s died, the poor fellow became morbidly afraid of foxes through the scare stories about them in the Mail. Warning: the video ends with the speaker leading the audience in a series of shouts of ‘F*ck You, Daily Mail’. This is, of course, obscene, but given the content of the rag, not entirely undeserved.

Here’s the video.
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It’s at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9dqNTTdYKY.

On the subject of religion, although the Daily Mail does attack atheists and secularists, there are a number of atheists and secularists, who also regularly express their contempt for people of faith. Richard Dawkins, who is frequently on TV both as an evolutionary biologist and an atheist polemicist, has described religious people as ‘faith-heads’. Charlie Brooker, on his the edition on lifecycle on his TV Ruined Your Life, described the congregations on Songs of Praise as sycophants trying to curry favour with a notional deity by singing insipid pop songs. And Stewart Lee and Ricky Gervaise also include anti-religious material and attacks in their shows. Now I actually like Brooker, and I’m certainly not arguing for the censorship of any of the above comedians. I’m only pointing out that media sneers and hatred on the subject of religion don’t only go one way.

Apart from this minor criticism, I agree pretty much with everything the speaker has said about the Daily Mail. The analysis of the sexualised language used of the young daughters of actors and celebrities is particular unsettling. It very much makes the case Chris Morris made in the ‘Paedogeddon’ special edition of Brass Eye. This was a sustained attack on the hysteria whipped up the News of the World and other tabloids about paedophiles, which saw a mob attack a paediatrician in Cardiff. Morris’ satire mixed fictional material, such as a sequence in which a map of the British Isles morphed into a mass of grotesque, leering faces, and real documentary footage from American child beauty pageants. The real material was deeply disturbing, and raised the issues of why such contests were legal while at the same time the media over here was frightening everyone with the spectre of a pervert on every street corner. The video’s critique of the Mail’s treatment of teenage and pre-teenage girls also raises questions of the morality of such articles, quite apart from the fact that the children of celebs should also have the right to a childhood away from the public eye. They actually prove Carrie Fisher right in her determination not to have the press anywhere near her daughter until she was old enough to decide for herself.

As for the Mail’s attitude to the disabled, as shown here, it’s truly nothing short of scandalous. A friend of mine, who cares for his disabled wife, told me a little while ago that he and she had experienced growing prejudice and intolerance from the public. He believed that there really was an attitude that his wife was somehow just faking her condition. He put it down to the effect of the disabled character in Little Britain. He believed it had created a climate of opinion that somehow expected those in wheelchairs to be secretly fit, well and leaping about when nobody else was watching. Reading the comment from the Mail’s columnist stating that disabled charities have only themselves to blame for public opinion turning against the disabled left me absolutely certain where some part of the responsibility for it also lay: the Daily Mail. And that really is low.

In short, the video’s an excellent summary and demonstration of just about everything wrong with Daily Mail and its editor, Paul Dacre.