This is our truth, tell us yours
Every blogger worth their salt is going to be blogging about Plebgate or Ferguson at some stage this weekend. If you aren’t appalled by what happened to Mike Brown in Ferguson, or amused by Andrew Mitchell’s downfall, you probably need to ask yourself why you’re reading this blog.
However, Radio 5Undead saved me from the path most travelled by telling me that police had been called to various shopping centres to deal with crowds of shoppers waiting for Black Friday to begin. That’s shopping centres in the UK, by the way. Not in the US, but in the UK.
Black Friday is not the same as Blackeyed Friday. Get a Geordie to explain the subtle differences, but essentially, on Black Friday the police get called to queues outside Asda, and on Blackeyed Friday they get called to queues in kebab shops and outside overcrowded bars.
If you read the Wikipedia article about Black Friday it’s clear that there’s nothing spontaneous about the idea. It’s about creating a sense of occasion and a formal state to the Christmas shopping debauch. So why is a publicly funded news organization like the BBC giving it air time, even to the extent of reporting on a police callout that if it happened to a kebab shop on a Friday night would cause no excitement at all?
The ongoing flight from editorial judgement by the BBC towards a lowest common denominator approach makes me want to despair. When minor incidents get reported nationally because they;re linked to Black Friday I feel as if the BBC has jumped the shark. For years I’ve argued that the BBC is a unique and distinctive institution worthy of protection, despite its weaknesses, but I’m rapidly reaching the point where I’m not sure the BBC’s existence can be justified any more.
It’s not the only occasion recently when ‘ve felt like that. To hear the sports journalists fawning over a catch made by Odell Beckham, because the NFL’s media people had claimed it was the greatest ever (this from a country that gave us the sham that is the World Series,) I realised that the BBC has given up on being British, and sees itself now as inhabiting a media bubble in London and Salford from which it never has to venture out into the reality of Britain today.
It’s a Black Friday when a socialist like me argues that we should scrap the licence fee and sell the BBC off to the highest bidder, but, truth to tell, it’s been coming a while. BBC Radio has lost any sense of uniqueness, and BBC TV is utterly beyond redemption – would the world be a better place without Eastenders? Undoubtedly. The BBC has lost its soul, its news values and its mision; it’s time to wave a sad farewell to a service that hasn’t even got the courage to avoid noxious, vacuous sales promotions like Black Friday, choosing instead to report them as if they are news.