One Year Old

This post was first published on Tumblr on 23rd September 2011.


Happy birthday to me. DM Reporter is one today. It’s been a funny old year – I honestly didn’t think that the account would have very nearly 13,000 followers after this short time (which, it should be pointed out, is 11 times more followers than the official Daily Mail account) – Twitter spoof accounts are 2 a penny these days so the engagement and replies are genuinely appreciated.When I first started the DM account the target was pretty obvious. It was the Daily Mail. And they were easy – Muslim this, immigrant that, SCIENCE here, bin collections there – the Daily Mail Headline Generatorpretty much does the same job.Occasionally a tweet would trickle out of the circle of followers and someone would get in touch genuinely offended. There was a run of Muslim teenagers who were angry and upset and just wanted to know why I was picking on their religion, and since I don’t break ‘character’ on Twitter and I couldn’t DM them they just left with the feeling that another person was dissing their beliefs for no good reason. I felt bad about that.

My intention has never been to directly slur the Daily Mail or their writers. I’ve never purposely set out to fool people into believing I’m real. I do, however, have a love for Poe’s Law comedy, and I believe that satire should come so close that it burns the edge. A simple, cursory check of my account will tell you it’s a joke, but the surface should be as accurate as should be.

I’ve had three moments where the joke has spread out of my control; The Vince Cable / Sky debacle (where no-one bothered to read the follow up tweet which was the joke), the Ryan Giggs tweet (background of Channel 4 News report thankyouverymuch) and the Bono-Glastonbury quote (thanks for the RT Sue Perkins) – all of which lead me to think maybe the joke was on Twitter itself…

I’ve had hundreds of replies from people who think the tweets are real, and while there’s a certain satisfaction to be had in creating confusion there’s also a certain futility in it too. If people don’t get the joke then all we’ve done is spread more confusion into the world. Recently we’ve tried to make the account *funnier* and more opinionated – breaking a few self imposed rules and trying to more overtly critical.

For a long time I thought satire was basically dead – or if it wasn’t dead it was keeled over on the floor somewhere coughing loudly. The lunacy of real life, and the reporting of it therein, has eclipsed almost anything the comedic mind can dream up. How can humour be used to criticise if the reality is funnier?

The @LizJonesSomalia account taught me a great deal, though, about the effect satire can still have. A well-timed joke about a current event can cut through bullshit far quicker and more effectively than any other pontification in the media. Really good satire on Twitter works because you can feel the anger – the Zeitgeist tweets recognise the sheer dumbfuckery of our world and don’t just hold a mirror up to it, they smack it round the face until it’s bleeding.

We need that back in the UK. The likes of Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You are all well and good but they lack the outright indignation at the media which makes The Daily Show such a force to be reckoned with.

We need to bring back Spitting Image. That kind of venomous, savage satire is needed now more than ever. If anyone out there has the power to do this and give me a writing job in the process then please let me know.

You may have noticed I’ve said “we” a few times in this post. That’s because there’s now 2 of us. For 11 months it was just me, and now it’s not. Hopefully this means the feed will be twice as good (it won’t be).

So, with a little luck, I’ll be back here in another year boring you senseless with more endless waffling that shows, really, why this shit only works well in 140 characters.

Thanks for following.

DM Reporter

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