The Loneliest Jukebox

Graham Barnfield's weblog, being gradually replaced by his Twitter feed - www.twitter.com/GrahamBarnfield

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Not Tonight...
Interest in my 90 second TV slot and the accompanying press release has continued, making scheduled interviews a regular feature of the last few days. This morning it was a TV appearance on France 2 Londres; yesterday a slot for English language radio in Bonn. A Friday phone-in appearance for LBC was a lot more constructive than the previous day's soundbite on BBC London with John Gaunt. Time FM, the Newham Recorder and various other outlets beckon. Part of the coverage involves a moral panic, which like it or not, I seem to be contributing too, as my brother pointed out when the story reached him in Dubai.

Other correspondents are more sympathetic. 'Rachel' has a sensible post on this blog (see below), while Austin from London said "Thank you so much for your articles on happy slapping, it's so refreshing to read an adult actually talking logically about the situation. it's not a out-of-control UK craze at all!" The press office at work, for whom all publicity is good publicity, declared 'not bad for a 1-minute interview segment (... an oasis of calm in an otherwise unpleasant viewing experience) '. Thanks, I'll try to keep up the good work, while reminding people Jackass is NOT to blame for happy slapping.

The whole experience has raised interesting questions for me about peer review and expertise. A while ago Brendan O'Neill, fellow journalism tutor and the deputy editor of Spiked-online asked me to comment on depictions of humiliation for the BBC webzine. This was punditry and not, at the time, the product of any research. My main area of expertise is in 1930s documentary representation and the cultural policy that went with it, which in 2002 meant I published a book chapter (link below) on why reality TV and 'classic' documentary are not the same thing. Brendan's piece also mentions happy slaps - although I didn't do directly - so search engines now endow me with apparent expertise on the topic. (Many other 'slap' hits and links are of the R U BORD, SLAP A NORMAN INNIT? variety and therefore little help to broadcasters.) This 'Google effect' has since been magnified by my appearance in a press release for the TV show Mugging for Kicks.

So thanks to Google and circumventing the usual peer review process in academia I have acquired a reputation as a world expert in this trend. This is despite my apparently inarticulate statements such as "I think happy slapping is become a short cut in the eyes of the slappers to fame and notoriety among the people who see the images circulated on the web or sent to them via their mobile phones" (appearing here and elsewhere ad naseum). "Is become a short cut"? I checked the tape of Mugging for Kicks and I say "has become a short cut", albeit in a Leicester accent less polished than Gary Lineker's. But one would think that someone could actually proof-read the press release before sending it out or before uncritically reproducing it. What are they teaching on journalism courses these days?

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