This week I have been following the news that ‘The Pub landlord‘ is going to stand as MP for Thanet South, meaning that he will be standing against UKIP’s Nigel Farage. I have enjoyed this story somewhat, while we seem to have a lot of comedy/odd characters standing this election, Al Murray’s character is the most calculated. The wording of his press releases (“It seems to me that the UK is ready for a bloke waving a pint around, offering common sense solutions.”) and policy plans (” We brick up the Channel Tunnel. With British bricks. Probably have to get some Poles in to do it. “) are a clever attack on the UKIP mindset, with Murray trying to blur the lines of real life and his character, making us all think just how dangerous mindsets can really be (my favourite tweet so far from The Pub Landlord- “Shocked to learn today from the papers that
@Nigel_Farage is running in South Thanet. Coincidence or something more sinister?”). I hadn’t really been a fan of the character before, but it becomes a perfect vehicle for Murrays message. I don’t know how the thing will pan out, I don’t think Murray knows either.
It reminds me somewhat of the Brass Eye ‘Pedophile Special’ in 2001, a spoof current affairs style news program aired in 2001 with the aim of showcasing the dangerous and stupidity of knee jerk reactions. It came during a time where the Sarah Payne murder was guiding the nations judgement and even went as far as convincing celebrities into presenting ridiculous news articles, my favourite scene being DJ Neil “Doctor” Fox proving he isn’t a real Doctor by telling the nation that pedophiles don’t deserve any mercy because they share more genes in common with a crab than they do with other humans. The Brass Eye special came out years after the original run of the show, the creator of the show just knowing that there was a time to bring it back.
Last year, in an article about Robin Williams, Russel Brand described what he thought a genius was:
For me genius is defined by that irrationality; how can he talk like that? Play like that? Kick a ball like that?
Which at the time really struck me, I too define a genius in a similar way, I find a genius is somebody who knows just the right time to make an intervention, they do ‘that’ thing at the right time and it makes a change to society. How did they know this was the right time? How did they know that doing ‘that’ thing would change things forever. Perhaps I think the similarity of the Pedophille special and the pub landlord, and my fascination with them both is the fascination of ‘how did they time it so perfectly?’. Comedians have a knack for this timing lark, and I guess comedy lends itself as a vehicle to get a message across.
The genius quote struck a chord with me when I first read it because I find I often think to myself “damn, they are a genius!” when I follow links to blog posts by my colleagues. Not only am I always impressed and envious of how well they can write, but also of the timing of the subjects they write about.
This week David Cameron promised that if he were to be elected this year that a new data bill will be put in to place. It is a pretty scary promise, basically saying that online privacy will be a thing of the past and that censorship is a must. He is playing his timing well, because he knows that he can play on the knee jerk reactions of Charlie Hebdo attacks to put this across. Perhaps he is an evil genius? Still, the worry I have is that these legislations take away opportunities to say the right thing at the right time. I’m worried for the ‘network of genius’ we have access to through technology.