I Can No Longer Distinguish Fact From Satire…

I’ve long held the idea (whether or not there is any truth in it…) of the role of the Court Jester, or Fool, as a political prankster in high regard: by ridiculing those in positions of power or influence in public for their indiscretions, formal recriminations could be avoided whilst shining a light (in the spirit of transparency?!) on behaviour that was, or verged on, the unacceptable.

So it’s probably no surprise that the likes of “Yes, (Prime)Minister”, “Bird and Fortune/the Two Johns”, “The Thick of It” and most recently, “Twenty Twelve” figure highly on my list of top telly moments…(As does the beautifully observed “Nathan Barley”, which I’ve recently been rewatching on 4od…) The problem is, it’s getting harder to tell truth from fiction. Was Bird and Fortune’s creation, George Parr, actually a Court Jester? And now today, this quote from Seb Coe about the 2012 Olympics (BBC News – London 2012: G4S ‘set to lose £50m’ on Olympic contract):

The head of London 2012, Lord Sebastian Coe, denied the Olympics was in “crisis”.

“This is a seven-year project, every day is a challenge. Don’t run away with the idea that this is a walk in the park. If it were a walk in the park everyone would be doing it,” he said.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the situation looked like “another Home Office shambles”.

(I wonder if it’s giving Shadow Minister for the Olympics, Tessa Jowell, the heebie jeebies?! Because for a project of this scale or complexity, I imagine you get the heebie jeebies every day. Because it’s not a walk in the park.)

This has to be the BBC getting its news teams and Twenty Twelve scriptwriters mixed up? That BBC reported quote is surely lifted from a spoof press release from Perfect Curve?

So maybe the flipside is true too, and maybe LOCOG insiders are leaking facts into Twenty Twelve so that they can be defused through ridicule before the press can announce them as LOCOG shambles? That is, foreshadowing in Twenty Twelve what might otherwise be news maybe prevents the news media from releasing the story because it’s no longer news (in the sense that the public have already been “informed” via Twenty Twelve, even though they didn’t necessarily distinguish the fact from fiction. It’s a perfect communication strategy curve…)

The close working between LOCOG and the Perfect Curve team (it must be close – Seb Coe speaks for both; maybe even speaks in an official capacity in both?! Despite claims there are no relationships between, or moles within, the different camps…) can also be seen in the way that sometimes ideas intended for Twenty Twelve make it into LOCOG dealings. Like the logo, for example, (How Lisa Simpson got ahead at the Olympics), which was presumably a Perfect Curve creation generated riffing around the idea of the, erm, XXX Olympiad that is the London 2012 games. I think there was also confusion in deciding who got which travel plan strapline: Way to Go or Get Ahead of the Games (err, erm, err…?!)

[ OU Ad: Want to learn more about the Olympics? Free OpenLearn open learning resources on The Olympics ]

PS In case you haven’t seen it – Perfect Curve’s Digital Strategy:

(“The Games is the beginning, but it’s not necessarily the end, or even the journey.”)

PPS hmm, thinks… what would the role of a Data Fool be?!

PPPS for a take on the ridiculous lengths taken to protect sponsors’ interests around the games, see Ray Corrigan’s post on Olympics Rights and Wrongs. You may also find the London 2012 Marketing Media Guide amusing..

PPPPS From The Independent: Britain flooded with ‘brand police’ to protect sponsors:

Hundreds of uniformed Olympics officers will begin touring the country today enforcing sponsors’ multimillion-pound marketing deals, in a highly organised mission that contrasts with the scramble to find enough staff to secure Olympic sites.

Wearing purple caps and tops, the experts in trading and advertising working for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) are heading the biggest brand protection operation staged in the UK. Under legislation specially introduced for the London Games, they have the right to enter shops and offices and bring court action with fines of up to £20,000.

Purple caps and tops? Another Perfect Curveball surely?

P5S Episode 2 of series 1 of Twenty Twelve featured a chaotic attempt at taking overseas dignitaries to the Olympic Park by coach (GPS failure, roadworks, etc etc… you can imagine it..) And then today, via @daveyp, this story: London 2012: Olympic arrivals ‘lost’ on bus for four hours:

A media shuttle bus also had difficulty finding its destination. The double decker, travelling from Russell Square to the Olympic Park in Stratford, pulled over 30 minutes into its journey. The driver said: “Sorry about this.”

He then got out a map, before performing a U-turn and quickly getting back on the correct route.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

9 thoughts on “I Can No Longer Distinguish Fact From Satire…”

    1. @teraknor I saw it more along the lines of making public facts that are typically hidden or ignored becuase of the embarrassment caused if they were made public, which is more in the spirit of Emperor’s New Clothes foolery?

  1. yes thanks a lot for all that everybody

    The difference between Thick of It and 2012 is that the former was clever and coarse, the latter is clever and funny.
    2012 is not really about the Olympics – that’s just the “sit” of its sitcom; it is rather a note-perfect satire on the risible lingua franca of contemporary PR speak, and how it has bled into a public sector desperate to appear “modern” and go-getting. The depiction of meetings in the series is an excruciating scream to all who have had to sit through similar – thinly-veiled resentments,bitchiness and back-stabbing glossed into a veneer of evenhanded PCness.
    As in any good sitcom, each character has their own catch-phrase (“it’s all good”, “not a problem”), except Siobhan Sharp – who has a gallery of ’em. The idea-shower sit-downs at Perfect Curve would merit a spin-off series of their own.

    2012 is so,like,basically, an unalloyed joy.

  2. The following was in a column in today’s (July 24) National Post (a Toronto daily): “Given that the London Olympic Committee, run by Sebastian Coe and Mayor Boris Johnson had years to prepare, I’d like to know how busloads of hungry and tired athletes were lost for up to four hours on the main arterial highway, the M4, en route to the Olympic Village.”

    This recalls an earlier episode of Twenty Twelve in which a Brazilian delegation being taken to the Olympic site gets hopelessly mired in traffic and in the end gets only a quick drive by. What else will we discover that this outstanding series has foretold?

  3. I thought that 2012 was a recent show, but more alarmed and tickled pink to find out it was created years ago and how on the head have they hit nearly every point, with hilarious dipiction. it is truely a blur of reality and fiction which makes it even funnier and again alarming. ‘way to go’! surely another series following the events during and a 3rd series after on sustainability!!

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