Home > Cultural lowpoints of 200x > Flash: aaaaaaaarrrrgghhhhh

Flash: aaaaaaaarrrrgghhhhh



Look, I could drop an entire fucking novel on this topic, but unless I see any advance figures posted up in my comments, I’m gonna put it to bed in under 800 words.

Here is a short list of people who’ve made the internet a worse place:

*xkcd cartoonist Randall Munroe

*admins for the pervert encyclopedia “Wikifur” who’ve decided that just because you write for Pitchfork now, you can have your antics in the well-endowed anthropomorphised stoat game made secret (http://furry.wikia.com/wiki/Nate_Patrin)

*the less attractive of the two girls with one cup

*whoever it is who programmed the “hot posts” feature on WordPress, so that every time I log onto this site to drop know I get confronted with four posts about Korean pop stars and one West Ham match report.

But if I was going to give the #1 prize to the man who most helpfully turned Tim Berners-Lee’s son into the delinquent child you see today, it’d be a clean award for Charlie Todd.

Todd is the founder of Improv Anywhere, the New York-based gang of seemingly professional dickers-around. Those of you who’ve spent more than six months online have almost certainly stumbled across a blog post, a YouTube clip, or a StumbleUpon page feting some of their antics: faking the suicide of a businessman, turning up to the workplaces of the minimum-waged and mocking them, or just simply turning up to play a prank on people who were already in on the prank before it happened. It’s awkward, it annoys me, I don’t like it. It doesn’t help that the site features “field reports” from the assorted drama student dropouts who make up their numbers, which feature breathless play-by-play on how intense it was to break free from the constraints of society and… act exactly as you were told to do by some guy on the internet, who’ll then go on to make a profit by selling DVDs of it. Any brief clickthrough will see you encounter comment after comment of “the people who we were mocking while they were just trying to do their job appeared to enjoy what we were doing”, whilst cutting off the obvious end of the sentence “we didn’t ask them though, because that would involve talking to a black person.” You know when you’re at a party or some gathering and the person who’s been boring the living arse off you for the past 20 minutes reveals that they’ve “done some stand-up”, and when you follow this up with host you find out that they just go on stage and bomb hard for five minutes every month, but they’re far too self-regarding to stop? That’s what these people remind me of in every way shape and form.

Anyway, get away from the Americans, bring it over here for a second. Last Friday, in the middle of a week that give us the worst weather and transport disruption in the British Isles for two decades, 13,000 cunts decided it’d be a spiffing idea to “flashmob” Liverpool Street station, shutting it down for three hours. As a man who used to do four hours worth of powercommuting every day, and can empathise how soul-crushing it can be to get just ten minutes worth of delay on a rammed Virgin train full of equally despairing commuters, the idea of having to wait three hours for some comedians to finish their routine before returning home to my family who I love is killer. So that’s ad enough there.

But when you strip down further… this wasn’t your common-or-garden flashmob done for no reason but for aggrandising those taking part. It was specifically set up to re-enact the recent T-Mobile “bunch of people dance in public” advert. This was a 13,000 strong “spontaneous movement of the people”… dedicated to re-enacting an advert. And not even that one where Johnny Allan from Eastenders asks you if you’ve been the victim of an accident in the past three years. An advert for a mobile phone.

Go deeper. The event is known to have two organisers: “Crazzy Eve” and Fortuna-Lisa Burke. Fortuna-Lisa Burke, who usually goes by the name Fortuna Burke, is a failed model, former BBC intern and aspiring media whore. “Crazzy Eve”, on the other hand, didn’t have a Facebook account prior to this event being set up by her.

Can you see what I’m getting at here? Have 13,000 people who thought they’d merely be selfishly holding up the lives of one-fifth of London’s rail commuters on a Friday evening so they could dance like utter twats actually been manipulated by a white-flag operation from an advertising agency, electric guitar-playing mountain climbers who grabbed the first “ethnic” presentable face they could find milling about in order to front it? Does it make this more or less abhorrent if that’s the case? I honestly can’t say, and when one attendee of the event writes on its Facebook wall “Everybody just had a good time, apart from my friend being groped by some guy, but you’ll always get one”, you kinda have the feeling these people get the media manipulation they deserve. Unsurprisingly, most of the “happening”’s defenders on Youtube appear to be “NWO BARACK ACTUALLY PUPPET LIZARD” conspiracy theory types. Welcome to 2009, kiddies.


SPECIAL BONUS MATERIAL: People who flashmob are all insufferable cunts

  1. Tariq
    February 24, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    To the auther, you got your facts wrong. Fortuna-Lisa Burke was not the organiser. All she did was film the event she, along with 13000 others was invited too and put it up on youtube. The radio 5 interview, where im guessing you got your source from, doesn’t mention at all about her organising it. Trust me, I should know. So you are deamonising an innocent person, do the right thing and correct this. Regardless of your opinion about flah-mobs, its wrong to attack someone like that. I hope to hear from you soon if you want to discuss this in further detail.

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