Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Outrage Machine In Action

Or, How To Start A Frenzy of Ignorant, Disingenuous Bullshit.

I'm amazed at the tenacity of perennially apopleptic screech-demon Michelle Malkin. No subject is too trivial or inane for her - if she stopped blogging, I would have to follow suit, since I would have nothing to talk about.

Malkin's audience, to the uninitiated, exists in a state of perpetual, unfocused outrage. She is merely the huntmaster, baiting the baying hounds with a few lumps of red meat before blowing her high-pitched horn and unleashing them upon whichever target she has decreed traitorous that day.

And this one is a beauty - by sheer coincidence, it's Armando Iannucci's satirical current affairs comedy, Time Trumpet. The show is supposedly set in the future and looks back at major news stories that have yet to occur.

The crime of choice - laughing at terrorist attacks.




Disclosure: I haven't seen the show, just the clips on the site. Malkin, of course, has only seen this one clip. The skit shows the "Annual Terrorism Awards", fronted by two real British TV personalities - two of the nominees are pictured below.





What do you imagine Michelle's thoughts are on these rib-ticklers?

"I still pause, once a day, to think about what happened (on 9/11) and how it has changed my outlook on life... I cannot fathom how the BBC, the once-revered British network of supposedly serious journalists, could pull a sick stunt like this."

"...Oh, and by the way, recall how sensitive the BBC was about not offending Muslims over the Mohammed cartoons."

I believe this is a "hoist by one's own petard" moment, as the once-revered, supposedly serious pundit betrays the lack of research which characterises the blogosphere.

If Malkin had bothered to visit the site in question, she might have seen two real BBC newsreaders introduce a clip on exactly the subject of the cartoon protests, in which actual footage is intercut with shots of supposedly Muslim men with beards waving the following signs...

- BEHEAD THE INFIDEL AND CACKLE AT HIS STUMP
- CUT OFF THE TITS AND BALLS OF THE APOSTATES AND FEED THEM TO THE PROSELYTES
- SET FIRE TO THE ENEMY’S FLAG/ JUMP UP AND DOWN ON IT THUS EXTINGUISHING IT/ RELIGHT FLAG/ REPEAT AS NECESSARY
- DEATH TO EVERYTHING AFTER THE 8TH CENTURY
- SLAUGHTER THE LAUGHERS
- HUNT DOWN THE SARCASTIC TOWNIES AND GAS THEM LIKE BADGERS
- KILL ISLAMAPHOBES. QUEERS ESPECIALLY.
- JEWS GLISTENING MALIGNANT POLYPS

Ooops.

Futher silliness: "We have the video.... Watch and listen as the audience laughs at the images".

If Malkin had bothered to think before crying "Havoc!", she might have noticed it's meant to be the laughter of the audience at the award ceremony, i.e. it's canned laughter.

Whether you think any of this is funny is up to you, but I thought it was worth a small chuckle, rather than a belly laugh. As is usually the case with British satire shows, the comedy does not spring from the subject material but the context in which it is displayed. The target is not the victims of terror, as Michelle would like you to think, but the inane treatment of the subject by the media. Think of it a bit like the Daily Show without the punchlines.

The very idea that there might be terrorism awards, and that those awards would be attended by the great and the good of British society, is itself patently absurd.

But why listen to my opinion? Let's let Michelle hang herself by quoting the Beeb's response...

"The clips have to be seen in the context of the whole series", said a BBC spokeswoman. "... It is a satire. The scenarios are so ludicrous that anyone who complained would be making a fool of themselves."

(Crickets, tumbleweeds)

Malkin then provides the BBC's complaints address and invites her readers to disprove the BBC's theory. I imagine that the sheer intellectual prowess of the complaints will suffice to intimidate the Beeb into pulling the show.

To paraphrase Marshall MacLuhan, as seems to be the fashion these days, why are blogs now considered a medium?

Because, of course, they are neither rare nor well done.

Update!: Unreason alert - FOX News asks: "Are Saddam's WMD's now in Hesbollah's Hands?".

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