Archive for April, 2016

Stephen Nolan, a man who has confessed he knows nothing about music, is now on BBC Radio 5, clearing the scheduled programme to wax lyrical about The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, and ask inane questions to music critics like,’What was so special about Prince?’ or to journalists in the US (who have spent all day outside the deceased artist’s house) such as, ‘What do we know so far about Prince’s death?’  I would imagine the answer might be something like, ‘Well so far, Stephen, we know that he died!’  But no! Instead we get endless inanity that is beyond satire. Like, ‘Don’t worry Stephen!  We’re working hard to get you an update via our x-ray drone that can see through walls and do a remote autopsy!’ OK – so that last part was made up. But you get my drift.

I can’t bear this nonsense anymore. I’m switching off the radio.

Right wing rants about the alleged liberal-left wing bias of the BBC are as regular as the healthiest bowel movements but they’re rarely if ever based on evidence-based fact, the academic equivalent of roughage. There’s no content analysis, no scientific methodology, just this knee-jerk reaction to alien opinions. This kind of reaction is nothing more than an ideological rod to beat the back of a public institution, not least an institution that does something so dangerous as broadcast to the masses. It is interesting, however, to note that when my colleagues and comrades on Media Lens or Spinwatch produce something a good deal more evidence-based and scholarly, they’re dismissed by the media as just the same as the knee-jerkers on the right. Thus, the age old BBC excuse that absolves all transgressions from journalistic independence and integrity: that is, that if they’re getting attacked from the right and the left about something they’ve just broadcast, then they must be doing something right. This is nonsense! It’s the sort of two-wrongs-make-a- right sophistry that not even Machiavelli would contemplate. Unless, of course, he got a job as a BBC presenter.

But yet, I’m a left wing academic just about finished a 20-year teaching career in higher education and going independent! I’m on a roll and I feel like celebrating with a rant of my own. It’s not so much a rant about political bias. It’s more about the self-abasement the BBC has displayed in the last couple of days in its response to a triple whammy of events: the Queen of England’s 90th birthday and the deaths of Victoria Wood (20 April) and the Artist Formerly Known As Prince (21 April). (Listen now! I gave the Queen’s title capital initials as well so don’t quibble like a pedantic fool!)

Funny-Queen-Elizabeth-Moments

One wants to go to a gig!

The BBC got up a good head of steam with the Royal Birthday, when on Tuesday 19 April, they helped Prince William out of a public relations hole (regarding his work ethic) by handing him a deftly scripted interview in the course of which Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchel asked all the right questions to all the right answers. Witchel didn’t get down afterwards and lick the royal boot but hey! I caught that glint in his eye!

Prince_William_February_2015

I’m in a hole!

Nicholas-Witchell-267259

A shovel, Sir?

 

william with shovel

Look at me work!!!

Now here’s the funny bit. The BBC ran the interview ad nauseum throughout the day and linked it to what it promised would be wall to wall, schedule busting coverage of the Queen’s Birthday celebrations the following day, Wednesday 20 April. Only, what happened? Victoria Wood died! Oops. The Beeb goes into a tailspin! Her Royal Majesty is 90 (shock!) versus National Treasure Comedian dies suddenly (horror!) What’s more newsworthy? Victoria Wood’s death, of course! It was a one-off news story opposed to an endless repeat!

And here’s the almost beautiful part! (Well, for me at least!) Just when the BBC gets back on track with its orgy of Royal obsequiousness (i.e. how did Her Majesty do while we were off yesterday mourning the death of our National Treasure, Victoria?) the artist formerly known as Prince only goes and dies suddenly! Shocker! What to do now? What to do? Yes! Let’s forget there’s nothing else going on in the country or the world and clear the schedules to talk about Prince and how much everybody loved him!!! Earthquakes? Forget them! Hundreds of lives lost? Forget them! Jobs lost? Forget them! Pope suffers constipation? Who cares? Let us BBC presenters sit in our stupid chairs and talk the biggest guff known to humankind about someone we never met, whose music we never listen to, and whose musical sensibility we neither understood nor really appreciated on any level resembling intellect or taste. Let us be very 21st Century BBC! Let us be stupid!! Let us show oneself up and let oneself down terribly!

prince

The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. RIP.

Ok. That’s my rant over now. A more scientifically grounded version of this blog post will appear in the very serious, academic, peer-reviewed journal, Nature…out soon in 2065! Only 9.99.