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Poster Culture

As one fat bloke enters, another one leaves. It's like Thunderdome, but with ham.

In among the various crises and strife which make up the hellscape that is the current news cycle, you've got to find your jollies where you can, and I''ve been deriving some gentle amusement from two entirely unrelated stories this morning. The repeated entrances of Jarvo, and the very final exit of Andrew Neil, two stories which, while they bear no relation to each other on the surface have the same, slightly sclerotic, struggling heartbeat.

Unless you're a cricket fan, the Further adventures of Jarvo will probably not have crossed your radar. In a nutshell, he's a serial pitch invader. He first did it a couple of matches ago and it was....mildly amusing. The sight of a rotund white bloke pretending to be an Indian player, pointing to the badge on his shirt was absurd enough to raise half a smile. If he'd left it there, that would have been fine, but he's repeated the trick at the next two matches, suffering badly from the law of diminishing returns in the process.

Cleaving hard to the rule that anyone whose nickname is their name, but with a y or an o appended, is terminally unfunny, Jarvo quickly squandered whatever goodwill the first stunt engendered (the warning should have been the "Jarvo 69" on the back of his shirt - it was funnier when "Mrs Grealish" did it at the Euros, recycled jokes are rarely good ones) by just repeating the gag. Probably enough for his online fans, who doubtless refer to it as banter, and himself as a ledge. Sigh. Less amusing for those of us with a functioning critical faculty, who by the end of the third intervention were hoping that Jonny Bairstow was going to lamp him.

The online fans thing is key, because Jarvo doesn't just do these things for a attention, he does them because he's got a youtube channel (no, I'm not going to link to it, the bloke's a prick), and the cash these things generate is more than enough to pay the fines he's handed out. It's not a pitch invasion, it's a business decision. 

Neil's departure from the flailing mass of rentagobs that is GB News was entirely predictable from long before the channel was formed. For all of his protestations and denunciations of the "woke BBC", and insistence that GBeebies was going to be impartial and balanced, the signs were fairly clear that it was going to be anything but. And as the TV equivalent of your drunk Uncle that nobody talks about got so bad, so quickly, and Neil went "on holiday" it was pretty obvious that he wasn't coming back. The arrival of Nigel Farage set the tin lid on what most people had predicted was going to be a car crash of right wing conspiracy loons and that was that.

If Neil had wanted to stay, he needed to be more Jarvo, and he couldn't be. I don't have any time for Andrew Neil, as the editor of the Times he supported the right-wing holocaust denier David Irving, and published AIDS conspiracy theories that denied that heterosexuials could catch it. As publisher of the Spectator he's given voice to some of the nastiest bastards in the British media (with a veneer of balance by including the odd token centrist /lefty - the same trick he's tried unsuccessfully to pull at GB News), only this week we have Lionel Shriver bemoaning the amount of births that involve brown people in Britain (I'm paraphrasing slightly, as with all fascism, there's a set-up which is "concerned" and "caring" about Afghan refugees before we get to the actual racism).

So yeah. Fuck Andrew Neil, As it turns out, all his "forensic brilliance" as an interviewer was enabled by the researchers, editors and cachet that working for the BBC brought him, left to his own devices, he floundered. But the one thing I will say for him is that he's probably conned himself into thinking that he's right. I don't think he wanted GBeebies to be a Fox-news style clusterfuck of insane opinion cut free from any pretence at reality. I think that when he spouted all those things that were patently bollocks about the channel's fresh approach he probably meant every word.

That he was demonstrably, palpably wrong is by the by.

Neil's problem, as I've mentioned, was that GB News is designed to be to news what Jarvo is to sport. It's existence is predicated upon instances, quotable content, snippets of interviews designed to be edited and retweeted by people who are either pro or, more likely, outraged by the provocation. So much right wing media is wholly reliant on people on the left or the centre responding to their nonsense. Nigel Farage has built a pretty nice career out of it, his arrival at the channel had a dark irony to it, the provocateur general (and, to be fair, a very effective one) ensconcing himself at the station which has parped and belched so volubly about its impartiality.

If you've not worked out that it's a grift by this point, I weep for you, btw.

This poster culture is, I would argue, one of the more profound dangers facing our social and political discourse. As we are yet further atomised by the tribalism of online culture, a diet of tiny snippets, devoid of context, serves only to enrage and entrench already prejudiced positions. It leads to the "yeah but what about" responses which dominate circular internet arguments, it gets no one anywhere but, crucially, it's a cheap way of generating advertising revenue. Much like Jarvo lumbering around yet another cricket ground as the pissed up fans sing sweet caroline yet again.

As to what one can do about it, fucked if I know. Arguably, by writing this blog I've achieved the opposite of what I want to happen, which is for all of these pointless grifting arseholes to be roundly ignored (didn't link to any of it though, did I?), but seeing as how Coastalblog's readership is at a level which would barely register on Jarvo's channel (though we could give GBNews' viewing figures quite the bump: to put that into perspective though, quite a lot of their programming has 0 (zero) views) I don't think I'm in too much danger of that. All I do know is that this relentless cheapening of discourse is already coming at a hefty cost, and that cost is going to rise. Ignore them to save yourselves.

And there we have it 


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