Wednesday, December 27, 2006

No Laughing Matter

So here we are in the dying days of December. The fag end of another year. I actually quite like these dead days between Christmas and New Year. I'm usually off work, pottering around, catching up with my reading and DVD watching in between drinking endless cups of tea. These days also afford me the opportunity to reflect on the passing year. Consequently, I'd like to take this opportunity to finally get something off of my chest. Earlier this year there occurred an incident which, I feel, did no credit to those of us who style ourselves 'online satirists'. To cut to the chase, a new UK site appeared on the scene; a site backed by an established print satirist; a site which managed to get itself a lot of publicity, being featured on the BBC website and in The Guardian's review section. Now, instead of simply welcoming them aboard, a very large section of the UK online satire 'community' turned on this site, subjecting it to all manner of pretty vicious criticism and attempting to organise campaigns against it on various message boards and blogs. The main 'crime' committed by this site was, apparently, to have the temerity to claim that it aimed to a British equivalent to The Onion, and to fail to mention the names of any other British satire sites in any of its publicity.

Now, personally I would never adopt The Onion as a role model - it has become far too mainstream and predictable in its 'satire' - but each to their own, it's hardly a capital offence. Moreover why should any new site publicise potential rivals? The 'justification' given for the furore by its organisers was that the new site's publicity implied that there were no other British satire sites of note. Well, again, that's a matter of opinion. Ill informed, perhaps, and maybe worth an e-mail to the site owner, but it hardly justifies the campaign of hate which was waged. After writing to the BBC, etc., the instigators claimed some kind of moral victory when, on some obscure part of their vast site, the BBC acknowledged the existence of, and named, a handful of other British 'satire' sites. At the end of the day, was it really worth all the fuss and moral indignation summoned up by some parties over a supposed snub? Personally, I stayed out of the whole thing. I really don't give a toss if someone sets up a new site - they're allowed to. However, the impression I got was that many 'satire' editors on the web seem to see it as a 'closed shop', that new sites can only be set up with the 'community's ' permission and that they have to 'pay their dues'. What arrogant bollocks. Clearly, this new site's main crime was to secure such wide publicity for its launch, via its owner's press contacts. Rather than being jealous (which seemed to be the main motivating force behind the organisers of the hate campaign), my reaction was simply to say 'good luck to them'. Hell, if I had the contacts, I'd be getting publicity for The Sleaze the same way!

Of course, I'd be lying if I was claim that the fact that the campaign's organisers snubbing of my site hadn't also pissed me off. In all their letters and e-mails to the BBC and the like, never once was The Sleaze mentioned amongst the 'outstanding' British satire sites snubbed in the new site's publicity. Gee, thanks guys! The fact that I've been around a bloody sight longer than most of you and that I actually strive for some degree of originality in my stories, doesn't count for anything then, eh? Arseholes! But should I be surprised? After all, they all seem to be a bunch of middle class twats whose real ambition is to write gags for 'Have I Got News For You'. At the end of the day why should I care about any of it? The bottom line is that, unlike some others in the world of 'online satire', I don't feel threatened by the appearance of a new site which obviously has some media backing. I've built up my own readership and I doubt very much that the kind of people who read Onion knock-offs are likely to read my brand of satire. The web's a big place - there's room enough for all of us out there. All that shameful campaigns of the kind I've described achieve is to reveal the insecurities of their instigators.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home