You can rely on the British press! ... unfortunately.

Anything relevant

You can rely on the British press! ... unfortunately.

Postby lesclarke » 22 Jul 2013, 22:20

... or another bad case of the Tabloids.

Couple of weeks back there was a little incident at an event I was performing at, it was 'something and nothing' really.

As I performed my second show of the day, a guy approached my partner Kay who was sitting out of the sun reading in the van. He said 'Isn't this supporting child abuse?' It was a really hot and humid day, Kay first thought he was joking, then pointed out it was 'slapstick knockabout in a traditional puppet show. She asked and found out that he didn't have kids of his own, and he went away.

At the end of the day a local reporter came around and said the guy had complained to the event organisers, the Rotary Club, and that the chap he complained to 'didn't believe this guy could be serious, and then walked away shaking his head in disbelief'. I liked this ending, in the past at the height of PC paranoia organisers may well have panicked.

The reporter, who works for two local papers, one of which I used to work for came back on the Sunday, and saw the first show, in cooler conditions and a really good family audience. There was a short interview and a photo taken, he had a very positive approach to Punch & Judy and the story, the next day he rang me to check the facts, then read the story to me. It was fine, he even said I was 'genial' (!) with the emphasis on whole families enjoying the show and one guy complaining, and ended with the Rotary chap 'walking away with his head in his hands in disbelief.

So far, so good, then a couple of Press Agencies rang for more info and photos, I decided that the story was already 'out there' so co-operated, I knew it would be a three-day-wonder at most, and overall could be viewed as positive for the Punch Tradition and it appealed to me that it was nicely anti-PC, but you can always rely on some of the tabloids to do a poor job.

It wasn't really that bad, but my comments of 'No I never actually saw this guy' , and' It's something and nothing' were not of course reported, they didn't make a 'good story', instead by the time it got into the Daily Star it ran as " An angry dad stormed up to Les..."

If I didn't already have a rock-bottom opinion of tabloid journalism I would have been disappointed.

I also did an early morning interview on BBC Radio Leeds, with notes to hand I made sure I got my points in, and had the final word, but that's the risk with the press, even if you keep your wits about you, you have no control over the final product.
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
User avatar
lesclarke
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 756
Joined: 14 Sep 2006, 17:12
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Re: You can rely on the British press! ... unfortunately.

Postby Chris » 23 Jul 2013, 09:56

As I've said before, I think we are too eager to accept publicity at any cost. I personally think that a story, however sympathetically written, which has at it's centre something which is potentially damaging to Punch should be avoided at all costs. We should refuse to co-operate. In this case Les has allowed pictures, given interviews etc, and thus fuelled the story. The idiot who made the complaint didn't go to the papers.

Now the story that actually appeared wasn't at all antagonistic, not particularly damaging at all, except that it is on the internet and and includes the words child abuse. Do a Google search for "punch and judy child abuse" and you will find this story repeated over and over again with Les's name, and terms like Huddersfield Punch & Judy man etc etc. People generally won't read the story in any detail or with much attention or intelligence. They'll get the gist of it - linking Punch and Judy with something unpleasant. Usually it's violence, this time it is child abuse.

We can't always stop these things. But if you absolutely refuse to co-operate in any way with "controversy" based stories you have a chance. Most reporters will lose interest if they are denied pictures or quotes.

I don't really blame the journalists. Normally a controversial element is what makes any story. Unfortunately the controversial elements usually connected with Punch and Judy are ones to which the public are particularly and unreasonably sensitive. And it is people with unreasonable sensitivities who may well be deciding on our next booking. I think we should tread most carefully.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: You can rely on the British press! ... unfortunately.

Postby lesclarke » 23 Jul 2013, 10:49

I was aware of your views and position on this Chris, and have a lot of sympathy with your arguments, especially as it does involve the emotive term 'child abuse'.

However, I think, that the country as a whole has thankfully moved on in recent years. Much of Political Correctness has been rightly ridiculed, and more importantly people have more confidence to think for themselves and express their own views, and I reckon its far less likely for event organisers to panic as they may have done even five years ago.

The supporting of 'child abuse' was the accusation and my approach has always been that on balance it is better to directly face up to false accusations, rather than keep quiet and ignore the threat and hope it goes away, and that people standing up to PC in many areas has very much helped to bring about its decline.

Because of what I perceive as a widespread change in 'public opinion' I have more faith in bookers and event organisers, and more faith in the public taking the right positive message even from stories linking Punch & Judy with the term 'child abuse', after all in a nutshell the story is about guy making a ridiculous complaint.

There are people who will read this story and then tell someone else, "I hear they have banned Punch & Judy for child abuse" ... but like the guy who complained they are a tiny, tiny minority, the vast majority will react positively in that it gets filed away as another ridiculous bit of PC nonsense.
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
User avatar
lesclarke
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 756
Joined: 14 Sep 2006, 17:12
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Re: You can rely on the British press! ... unfortunately.

Postby Chris » 23 Jul 2013, 17:04

In an ideal world I would agree with you Les. But since I find that people do not read even headlines accurately, jump to conclusions, and are usually ready to believe the worst, and since most of us have absolutely no chance to change what spreads on the internet then I judge that as children's entertainers we are in a peculiarly vulnerable position. To you "in a nutshell the story is about a guy making a ridiculous complaint", maybe to you but to everyone else "in a nutshell the story is about a Punch and Judy man being accused of promoting child abuse."
None of the headlines read "Idiotic claim by man who can't understand slapstick humour"
Look at the actual headlines "Punch and Judy man accused of promoting child abuse" (Daily Star) "Angry viewer blasts Punch and Judy performer for condoning child abuse" (The Sun) "Man slams Punch and Judy for glorifying violence" (Daily Mail) "Punch and Judy child abuse claim" (Oldham Chroncicle) "Punch and Judy man blasted for puppet child abuse (Examiner). It takes a higher degree of optimism than I possess to believe that the majority of people will read the full stories carefully enough "to take the right positive message". Surely most people, unless particularly interested, will note the headline and a general impression will lodge at the back of their minds, only to surface if the subject of Punch and Judy ever comes up. I really think it wishful thinking to imagine
that the vast majority will react positively in that it gets filed away as another ridiculous bit of PC nonsense
.
But I sincerely hope that you are right and I am wrong.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: You can rely on the British press! ... unfortunately.

Postby lesclarke » 23 Jul 2013, 17:23

There isn't much actual content in your average tabloid to begin with Chris, so I reckon people will read beyond those headlines, after all they are all very short pieces, which get to the point and where the potentially negative headline leads into a positive tale.

Even if they don't read the story, those headlines will most likely encourage thoughts of 'what's the world coming to' rather than anything anti Punch & Judy.

It is still my judgement that these things are best met head on and dealt with, then hopefully they won't crop up as much in the future.
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
User avatar
lesclarke
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 756
Joined: 14 Sep 2006, 17:12
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Re: You can rely on the British press! ... unfortunately.

Postby Chris » 23 Jul 2013, 18:32

As I said, I hope you are right.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales


Return to Punch Chat

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests

cron