#banbenefits

What I thought would happen was that it would become a mixture of those who got the satire and those that didn’t – I thought we’d have some kind of meta-Poe’s Law hashtag burst for a while and we’d all learn a lesson about how ridiculous the attacks on benefit claimants really are.

What actually happened was that virtually everyone got the joke immediately, and then promptly ran with it in a way that was far funnier, far more honest and far more sincere than I ever expected.

It actually became rather beautiful, with people sharing their stories and experiences of being on benefits with a sense of humour and self-awareness that could never be found behind a thousand closed doors in Westminster.

It also solidified for me the sensation that the public aren’t blind to the divide and conquer tactics of the government, nor the endless negative propaganda being peddled by the papers. When the BBC starts going down the line of asking if Mick Philpott is representational of JSA claimants you know we’re in trouble, but the public seem well aware of how bullshitty this all really is. I think everyone did good today.

These are my pick of the tweets –> #banbenefits

How Far is Too Far?

As far as we at DMR towers are concerned no subject is too taboo to make jokes about, but context is everything. We have no problem with rape jokes, with jokes about murder, or incest, or child abuse – but there’s got to be a reason for them. We’ve done dozens of Reeva Steenkamp jokes over the past fortnight but absolutely none of them were at the expense of the victim. With satire especially, you have to always be on the side of humanity.

The Onion’s ‘Quvenzhané Wallis seems kind of a cunt’ tweet is a great example. Conceptually I think it absolutely stands up as a valid joke – it’s clearly ironic, and clearly poking fun at a desensitised social media universe where there will always be someone who legitimately thinks that. It simply taking the extreme opposite standpoint of a general consensus.

What it is lacking, though, is an awareness of the wider world. Primarily, that you’re talking about a 9 year old girl – and to do that you really really have to be making a bigger point. Social media is a very reactionary format and they should have been savvy enough to know the life-beyond-the-instant that sort of statement would have.

That girl will now forever be associated with ‘cunt’. Many many years down the line, when she has lead a full life, filled with achievements and success, that word will still be there. It will feature in an obituary one day, and that’s the real criticism here. It’s not an issue of humour, but an issue of editing. It’s not that it shouldn’t have been written, it’s that it shouldn’t have been sent.

To give The Onion their credit, though, I thought their apology was very well considered.

Last week, when the Daily Mail was gleefully reporting on the issue of ‘white flight’ from London I wrote a tweet which is still sat in my drafts folder, It said:

CENSUS: Pakis, immigrants and muzzies drive white population from London. And if you complain they’ll call you racist!”

It’s meant to be repugnant. It’s meant to be horrible to read. We’ve written before about how satire should come from a place of anger, and that tweet absolutely was. The article, and the comments below it, carried the same levels of racism, hate, fear and lies as contained in those offensive terms, and I was just cutting through the bullshit.

The Daily Mail feeds on that kind of attitude. It is a fundamentally racist publication; purposely creating division among races (and, to give them their credit, economic class, gender, sexuality and any other classification of person you wish to name). The overriding theme is of an (indigenous) white population under siege from an invading army of foreigners typified, at least by their pictures editor, by women in burkas flicking the V.

The comments sections is overflowing with carefully moderated insinuation. There’s no space for considered thought, or debate, or rationality. It’s a free-for-all gripefest about how, well, the pakis, immigrants and muzzies are ruining everything. For example, a recent article about a primary school where all the children speak English as a second language improving it’s OFSTED report was met with the following top rated responses:

primaryschoolcomments

 

The important thing here isn’t that the comments were made, it’s that they were approved by the paper and approved of by its readers. These are opinions constructed from a promoted worldview of suspicion and propaganda because, above all else, it brings in the bucks.

I didn’t publish that census tweet in the end, not because it wasn’t valid but because I just didn’t really want our followers to have those words appear in their timelines. People wouldn’t have retweeted it, and if in some bizarre way the tweet had become widely popular it would almost certainly have lost it’s ironic context pretty quickly.

There’s another joke that I’ve sat on for over a year now about the Taxpayers Alliance. I’m fairly sure it’s ok, it’s just really… vulgar… and while there is a larger point behind it, I’m not sure that’ll come through enough and all it’ll be noted for is the vulgarity.

I will say this, though: Daily Mail readers seem kind of like cunts.

 

A Note on Being Hacked

No, we weren’t hacked. It was a joke, what with Twitter being in news over being hacked and all. Thanks to everyone who joined in, willingly or unwillingly. It was a lot of fun.

The roots of this idea came from another parody account I set up a while ago that never really went anywhere, mainly because I didn’t have the time to pay attention to it and only a few tweets in it had already begun to feel repetitive.

That account was @protestm0vement and was a direct reaction to @protestmovement who tweet the most backward, illogical, moronic, counter-productive stabs at protest I’ve ever seen. These are the sort of people whose singular inability to grasp any of the central issues they tweet about actually harm their argument.

Thus when Twitter was hacked it seemed a perfect time to go back to that idea, but with a much larger audience.

There is another point though, which has been a theme of ours for a while – never ever trust anything you read on Twitter. We love our followers very dearly and are genuinely thankful for the attention they give us, but I’m kind of amazed that as many people believed it as they did.

How can we legitimately combat the misinformation and underhanded techniques of the real Daily Mail if something as obviously fake as our ‘hack’ is taken at face value? We all do it, we all read tweets that seem to justify our pre-existing opinion and we take those tweets as fact – but the truth is that unless there is a link to a verified and legitimate source then it shouldn’t be trusted.

We weren’t out to make fools of anybody and we’re not trolling for more followers – we’re just trying to find new ways to keep the account fresh, and poke fun at some other targets in the process. If you did fall for it, though, don’t feel bad. Yesterday we tweeted

GAY MARRIAGE: Conservatives insist “it’s Adam and Eve, not an all-you-can-eat cock buffet.”

…and someone still thought it was real.

 

All Grown Up

Believe it or not but here at DM Towers we do and make points with our jokes – we don’t just exist just for the sake of topicality or for attention. We bang on about the importance of satire for a reason. There comes a point though – and with the Mail it happens roughly every 6 months or so – when you wonder what the fucking point of it all is.

I’m assuming you’re here – in the first instance at least – because of a link I added to a particularly revolting tweet…

CELEBRITY: 14 year old Elle Fanning looks like she wants a good fuck as she poses in saucy Halloween costume.

…or something like that. I’m also going to assume that you’ve seen the inspiration article on today’s MailOnline. If not, here’s a screen grab via MJRobbins (brought to my attention by IanWatoop)

Finally, here’s a link to the story as it currently stands. It’s important you look at both because, if you pay close attention, you’ll notice a few subtle differences.

As I type this Twitter is currently imploding at this story; and quite rightly so too. There’s so many pernicious and perverted elements it’s kind of hard to know where to focus – the creepy (and now removed) “showing off her womanly curves” byline, the (also now removed) “wasn’t afraid to flaunt her curves” sentence, the fact that this was pulled from a 14 year olds personal Instagram account, the bizarre reading of a sexual undercurrent in what is effectively a child posing in fancy dress…

Much has already been written about the Mail’s preoccupation with underage starlets (such much so, in fact, that every time I write about this subject I have to include that sentence as a get-out-clause to avoid having to summarise it all) so I’m just going to make 2 brief points and get out of here. I’m strongly beginning to suspect that accounts like DMReporter aren’t actually helping, and maybe we’re drawing attention to something that might gently fade away if we stopped pointing and laughing. Anyway…

1. I was at Halloween event last year and I passed three young teenage girls dressed in the usual low-cut short skirt outfits which are so popular. As I passed them one of the girls had a wardobe malfunction and her boob popped out, right in front of me. What did I do? I looked away. I did that because I’m an adult, and that’s what adults do. For a grown man a 14 year-old tit is not sexy. It’s not to be ogled. It’s part of a process. It is the same – if you will – as an breastfeeding boob.

If you are an adult journalist, as I’m assuming the vast majority of Daily Mail journalists are, and you write about the womanly curves of a 14 year old, then there’s something wrong with you. No ifs, no buts, no nothing. If you pull a picture of a pubescent teenager from the internet and write about how she’s ageing nicely, or growing up fast, or that she has enviable curves then you’re directly contributing to a culture of sexualisation and child abuse. End of. I don’t give a fuck what your editor told you to write. You are not fit for the title journalist and serious consideration should be given to your right to work among children at all.

This is especially pertinent to the Elle Fanning article because the sexual content is invented. Not that I’m condoning their leering over 14 year old Kardashians but I can at least understand how photos of them in bikinis lead to an article about them being in bikinis – in the case of Elle Fanning they had to find the sexual content. They couldn’t write ‘Elle Fanning enjoys dressing up for halloween’ as that doesn’t sell papers, or links, so they had to make up material about her looks, about how’s she’s nearly of age, about how she’s eager to be an adult – about how, in a couple of years, she’ll be legally fuckable.

2. I think it’s about time we stopped viewing the Daily Mail as an ideological enemy. When this account was first started I wrongly assumed that the Mail was a rightwing institution and that that was their primary motivation, but I now realise I’m wrong. The Mail follows money and they will say or do or print anything which gets them that money. This is why they set up Samantha Brick for a fall, or why they let Liz Jones write about famine, or why they attached a creepy paedophilic subtext to pictures of a 14 year old girl.

They simply don’t care what you, or their readers, or their detractors think. We all organised ourselves into a big huff over this Elle Fanning thing. We all clicked the links, shared the outrage, passed on the news and the only thing it has achieved – the only thing – is the removal of two sentences from an article. They don’t give a fuck about anything except hitting their required view numbers for a day, and we all helped them. Shit. I helped them.

The thing is – this makes them more dangerous. There’s few things as offensive as desperate, grasping capitalism and that’s what the Mail now represents. If they were true to a sliver of their projected morals then articles about underage Kardashian’s cavorting in bikinis could not sit next to outrage at the BBC grooming children for penetration by Jimmy Savile.

It is simply not possible to miss the connection between the two. It’s just not. They are absolutely 100% doing this deliberately. If marijuana is a gateway drug then the Daily Mail is a gateway publication. It is deliberately creating and exploiting the sexual appeal of underaged girls for money. I can cope with much of the Mail’s output but this really is beyond the pale. It’s making me question whether or not I really want to be associated with this smutty little rag any more – even under the guise of parody – because all we’re really doing is contributing to their success.

There’s a final point, actually, which I’m trying very hard to not make melodramatic or exaggerated. It has become painfully obvious from the Savile reporting of the past few weeks that his taste for young children was widely suspected, if not known. I’d suggest we need to do the same thing with the Daily Mail. A worldwide publication spending as much time as they do obsessing over the bodies of pubescent children is not normal. Maybe, like Savile’s cigarbreathed leering, we’ve come to accept it as part of the culture…? Maybe we should stop?

Savile Row

I think it’s fair to say that Jimmy Savile has ruined the image of creepy old men who live with their mothers forever.

The papers must be kicking themselves. After all the fearmongering,  suspicion, calls for mob justice, support for vigilantism, printing of rumours, linking to race and casual calls for rewriting / enforcing / scrapping of child protection laws depending on specific story requirements they missed a literally all-singing, all dancing pantomime villain right in front of their eyes.

I know. D’oh, right?

Look at this man. He is exactly what the papers have been warning us about. He is the tabloid definition of a paedophile. He couldn’t look more like a child abuser if had a giant net and was dressed like the Hamburglar. And he was in plain-sight – literally cavorting next to children on TV, giving them hugs and offering special favours.

He was buying silence with charity money. And given his own room in children’s hospitals where he would prowl up and down the wards. He had the keys to mental health facilities and was allowed special access to vulnerable patients. He was an actual, proper, real evil mastermind. It’s like unmasking the President as the villain.

I met him once, and he told me I was far too pretty for him (I’m not).

Furthermore he was fully enabled by the BBC who, not content with just procuring children for one of their biggest stars to abuse, were also offering sanctuary to a nest of paedophiles by giving them broadcast positions. Worst of all this became an officially sanctioned cover-up, going as far to yank a Newsnight investigation from the airwaves for fear of damaging their own reputations.

The press, and the Mail especially, are going all out to push their lone gunman theory – that the BBC, the giant unified autonomous thinking-as-one unit were the only enablers; no-one else knew. Certainly not the Mail who are as gee-whiz-golly-gosh shocked as the rest of us. Apparently everyone knew but no-one told us.

This is horseshit.

They’re trying to convince us that over the course of 40 years one of the most famous people in the country ritually abused children and not one of their writers had heard a thing? With their Leveson exposed network of insiders, tip-offs, corrupt policeman, hidden cameras, hacked phones, fake sheiks and overwhelming willingness to print unfounded rumours we are expected to believe that they knew nothing…?

Again: horseshit.

The papers knew. Most likely not the full details but they heard the same rumours, they ran in the same crowds, they mixed with the same people. For them not to have heard *something* and wanted to investigate would require a monumental failure of an entire network of information gatherers across a dozen newspapers and broadcasters, both legal and illegal, in an industry funded by lurid and shocking stories. It literally makes no sense at all.

The thing is – we all thought it too, right? Not really. Not really really. But kinda. We all thought he was weird, but we assumed harmless. And we were right to do so – because it is inconceivable that someone so famous, so known, who has so many interactions, with so much power, could be doing such things. He worked in an industry where nothing is private. If Richard Bacon gets thrown off Blue Peter for a line of coke how could Jimmy Savile possibly be fucking kids for forty fucking years?

I love the BBC dearly and I would defend them until the heat-death of the universe but even I’m not going to sit here and pretend this isn’t a disgusting and catastrophic failure on their behalf. They’re not the only ones though – from left to right, red-top to blue-top, our press utterly and completely failed to unmask a corruption that was directly in front of them. And that is unforgivable.

Our media is a prime contributor to the sexualisation of teenage girls.There is no point discussing Savile as part of a larger societal acceptance – “it was the culture back then” – if you’re not going to acknowledge that that culture absolutely exists now, and it is more pervasive and accepted than ever before. As Graham Linehan pointed out on Have I Got News For You this week, searching the MailOnline for the phrase “all grown up” says all you need to know.

Why did the Mail choose to report on an affair John Peel had with a 15 year old girl and not mention David Bowie’s deflowering of 13 year old Lori Maddox? Because Bowie is alive, and he would sue them. Reporting on Peel is just a small hit-job; aiming at the larger target of the BBC, but in the process it dilutes the crimes of Savile in the public mind; he becomes just another cartoon hate-figure.

They’ll now echo the shock and disgust across countless articles, reprinting the same stock images of Savile’s leering cigar chomping next to the newest nubile paparazzi GEMMA ATKINSON SHOWS OFF HER ENVIABLY TONED FIGURE AS SHE GOES JOGGING IN A CROP TOP AND SHORTS headline and never ever make the connection.

To give the story due credit though, it’s been a goldmine for jokes. That last sentence may seem odd given the 900 or so words I’ve just written above but it’s ok – it’s satire, innit? Satire. This is my favourite joke we’ve written – very few other people thought so, admittedly, but I’m reprinting it here anyway.

EVIL BBC: “Jimmy Savile left messages on my voicemail bragging of sex with my granddaughter” claims Andrew Sachs.

Yours,

Disgusted of Europeland

Trolling the Daily Mail

Sometimes, during the course of our day writing jokes, we’re required to visit the Daily Mail website or use their app. Sometimes, we leave comments. We’re not saying it’s big, we’re not saying it’s clever, we’re not even saying it’s funny… but here are some of them:

I’d love to be able to say there’s some kind of conclusion that can be reached from these, but I’m not sure there is. DM readers are, in many cases, quite savvy and they can spot deliberate attempts to mock or offend with ease. Much of it depends on context, and often our deliberate attempts to wind people up are ignored in favour of far worse (and, one assumes, far more serious) comments.

Truth be told – there’s very little that we can write that wouldn’t be spotted by a moderator that isn’t already present somewhere else on the site. It’s like going to a KKK rally and trying to be more racist than those present. It just doesn’t work.

———–

In other news, we’re taking a break for a little while. There’s only so long you can stare into the abyss before you realise the abyss is staring back at you, and choking every last semblance of dignity and compassion from your soul. Which, when you think about it, explains Peter Hitchens perfectly.

We’ll be back soon enough.

The DMReporters

x

Real Liz Jones mentions Fake Liz Jones

She’s known about it since the beginning but Real Liz Jones has never actually mentioned @LizJonesSomalia in public before – however she dedicates one paragraph to us in her new column The Stasi Paid for the Thought Police, but Trolls Do It for Free.

Yes. That’s the actual title.

When I was on the Somali-Kenyan border, working on a story on the famine, the photographer assigned to my story told me someone was pretending to be me, and was tweeting about how awful it was that my Gucci luggage was getting dusty.

Thanks Liz. We never once mentioned Gucci but there were lots of jokes about Fortnam and Mason hampers.

Hat tip to @zelo_street – his excellent article on her awful article is here. I suggest a read.