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Monday 15 April 2013

BGT? Mail’s Got Outrage!

Saturday brought the first in a new series of Britain’s Got Talent! Big deal. It’s just a re-heated version of Opportunity Knocks, except with the presiding presence of Simon Cowell (aka The Black Helmet) rather than Hughie Green. Well, it’s a big deal to some, and not least the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his online supremo Martin Clarke.

No publicity is bad publicity, eh?

BGT serves four purposes for the Mail, the first two of which were on show with the first report on the opening programme. It uses, or as those Stateside might put it, leverages the popularity of the format to sell papers and provide clickbait. Then it allows the Dacre attack doggies to go after the hated BBC, because their offering, The Voice, did far less well in the ratings.

Thus “Britain's Got Talent crushes 'boring' BBC  show The Voice in debut Saturday night ratings battle”. The fawning review extended to misleading readers over the viewing figures, claiming a 13.03 million to 6.67 million victory for BGT, although the comparable figure for the latter was 9.35 million. The Mail, as ever, gets the falsehood and misinformation in first.

So what was on offer from The Black Helmet and his pals? Well, there was 11 year old Alixsandra Libintano, who “is currently chalked up at 12/1 to become the youngest ever winner of the show”. She sings. So what did the Mail say about her performance? “Mature: Arixsandra took on a Jennifer Hudson [song] which many adults would struggle to sing” read the caption.

That’s that, then. Or rather it isn’t: there were still two of those four purposes to serve. These are the generation of cheap copy by mining Twitter and other social networking sites (rather than bothering to do real investigative journalism), and the Mail staple of outrage. Yes, after telling readers how wonderful BGT was, the Mail was now going to lay into it with guns blazing.

And so it came to pass. “Britain's Got Sleaze: BGT viewers' backlash over the lap-dancer and the schoolgirl of 11 singing about one-night stands” signalled the faux tsunami of Dacre-fuelled anger. Someone had actually read some song lyrics! And someone else had found half a dozen viewers who didn’t like what they saw, and were too dozy to change channels or switch off.

So 11 year old Alixsandra was now doing something totally unacceptable, rather than “mature”. And particular righteous ire was reserved for dancer Keri Graham, because, well, she’s 43, and in the world of Paul Dacre that means she should be at home in front of the cooker. The intention of this attack is clear: “The scenes risk angering media regulator Ofcom”. And here were the photos to prove it!

The Black Helmet won’t be quaking in his boots on the way to the bank, though.

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