Tag Archives: youtube

Downfall on a Croydon tram

You know that an online meme has truly gone viral when someone does a Downfall mashup, and so it is that the recent Emma West ‘racist woman on a tram’ video can now be seen in a new version with Hitler – the source video got past 12m views in a few days before the person who uploaded it decided to delete the video. You can still see it all over YouTube though as other people uploaded copies.

It is an embarrassment to watch. West is clearly drunk, or using something you can’t buy at Boots, and making it all worse, she is carrying a young infant who seems oblivious to the foul language and threat of violence. She has now been remanded in custody to January 3rd by magistrates in Croydon – with the order to keep her behind bars apparently for her own safety.

When you take into account her accusation that someone on the tram comes from Nicaragua, though they are quite obviously not from Central America, it descends into idiocy. Just with the added foul language for good measure.

Most reactions to the video have expressed outrage. The UK is a modern, forward-thinking, liberal society that despises this casual racism. At least, this is the intelligent, educated, liberal reaction.

England is also a country where, just a few days ago, police questioned the captain of the national football team over alleged racial abuse of fellow professional footballers on the pitch.

Emma West doesn’t allow her targets to be limited by race; she appears to despise anyone who isn’t English – particularly the Polish – apparently demonstrating that cultural racism very clearly still exists in the UK.

British people know this anyway. The hard working, mostly Christian, white-skinned Poles have faced a negative reaction from the British as their numbers have increased since EU expansion in 2004. Anyone with a slightly longer memory, or appreciation of British history, would know that there were 16 Polish fighter squadrons within the RAF during World War 2, with squadron 303 at Northolt being the highest-scoring fighter squadron in the RAF. But do the ignorant worry about history?

The Irish faced a similar reaction many decades ago as they came to the UK looking for work. Landlords considered dogs and blacks to be just about as welcome as the Christian, white, Irish workers.

Racism isn’t always about the colour of your skin or the God you worship.

Within the British Isles we have often mocked each other in jokes. The drunken Irish, the stingy Scots and so on, but when a video like this achieves such notoriety in such a short period of time it would appear that something else is going on that exceeds mild stereotypes. That John Terry himself can squirm behind excuses such as ‘the context in which certain remarks were made’ shows how little the establishment really cares about true racial harmony in Britain today. Is ‘tolerance’ still the rather pathetic objective here?

The truth is that without migration the UK would never be able to boast the music of Morrissey or the Beatles. The chicken tikka masala might never have become the favourite dish of the nation – offering solace to all those who can’t manage a vindaloo. And Damien Hirst might never have started chopping up cows in the name of art.

The value migration brings is acknowledged by most, and the most recent explicitly anti-migrant political movement, the British National Party, was roundly defeated in the 2010 general election.

But the white working class fears migrants because of the perception that they steal jobs – it’s that simple. They like Irish beer and Indian (usually it’s actually Bangladeshi) food, but they don’t want foreigners coming and taking their jobs.

And jobs are where the political debate is at right now. Unemployment is soaring. The economies of Europe are collapsing and the OECD predicts that the UK will soon enter a new recession with more than 3m unemployed – that’s at least 400,000 more people without a job than right now.

If the government doesn’t grasp that this lack of employment opportunity is going to be a tinderbox that tests multicultural Britain to the limit then I suggest that ministers get on a tram and start talking to people – admittedly difficult when they are not even talking to each other because of Europe. But, don’t forget to carry a swear box.

Hitler In Hell

BBC film was not just a rant

I had a few comments about my appearance on BBC Click suggesting it was just a rant. There were a few unsympathetic voices by email even. It’s pretty easy to find me online, so I had to expect that.

Well, I’m not hanging my head asking for forgiveness, or ranting about how unfair it is that the big boy Google is a bully. The film on Click was a measured look at how the strict application of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is essentially not going to work as we head further into the future.

Think about this for a moment. Where do you store your photo collection? I know that I have over 10,000 photos on Flickr, along with a box of old photos, but I am not taking any new photos that are going in the box – they are now all going online.

What happens if people start complaining about my photos and the host decides to delete my account? I don’t keep a local backup of all that content. And even if I did keep everything locally, what happens if the hard disk fails or goes up in flames?

The point about my YouTube account was that there were two complaints from over two years ago, then the Jimmy Carr complaint caused the account to be wiped without any notification. I just had no account anymore. Nobody told me a thing. I had to chase YouTube for several days just to find out why my account had vanished.

Google does not make the ‘three strikes’ policy clear anywhere, even in the small print. Saying repeat offenders will have their account removed is not the same as explicitly saying three-strikes-and-you’re-out.

And I never contested those earlier copyright claims – I never felt that I could. Imagine if Jean-Michel Jarre invited his fans to upload video, but his music publisher complained to YouTube. How would I think that I have any right to fight the music publisher? Because that’s the exact situation that occurred.

Naturally, when I lost my account, I did push back on these complaints – even the ones from 2008 – and as I said in the film, they were all removed as mistakes. But they were mistakes that for a period of time had cost me my entire video collection.

The whole point of this is that I agree that the law has to be followed, I agree piracy needs to be managed, but the fact is that the way the law is applied by Google at present means that many innocents will get caught up and will lose their content, even though you could not argue that they are deliberately trying to pirate material.

Nowt as queer as folk

When I published my first book, I remember hearing someone bitterly complain that they could write a better book on the same subject. I challenged him and said that although the poet laureate may not be scared of my work, at least I had sat down, done the research, formed an opinion, and published it for all to see. The person who grumbles that they can do better should recognise that and go away and write their own book.

Of course, there is some real trash published by writers or musicians. Sometimes you do wonder how on earth it does ever see the light of day, but even those who publish trash have worked hard to get that book or album out into the world. The critics who claim to be better need to demonstrate that, rather than just criticise. At least I could talk to my own book critics and find out what they propose could have been done better. And I do think that I’ve improved what I have written over time.

I was on TV all over the world this weekend, presenting a part of the BBC ‘Click’ TV show. I cannot tell you how many abusive and unfriendly emails I have had. Very strange indeed. I have had lots of texts and mails from people who liked what I said, but why do people send emails saying ‘I hate you’ or ‘I don’t like the way you walk!’

The funny thing is that I suspect these people are not just critics. They are a couple of kings short of a full deck of cards. How do you engage and argue with boneheads like that?
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary Speaking at the Oxford Bookstore, Bangalore - Aug 2004

BBC Click is now online

At last! The BBC Click TV show where I present an entire package on Google is online and being broadcast all over the world this week on BBC World TV. It went out on BBC1 this morning in the UK and my sister was texting me, surprised to get messages from her friends telling her to switch on!

Click here to go and watch it on the BB iPlayer…

Me on BBC Click

Filming with the BBC in Bath

I spent all day on Tuesday filming in Bath with Dan Simmons for the BBC ‘Click’ programme. It’s the biggest technology show on the BBC, being broadcast on BBC World, BBC1, and online. Even the Twitter stream for the programme has nearly two million followers.

Filming 'Click' in Bath

This was following up on my recent experience with Google and their decision to delete my entire Youtube account. I have got my videos back now, but only by appealing to everyone who had ever complained about me and getting them to withdraw the complaints.

I haven’t been out doing TV work in a public place before. I’ve done lots of talking heads work in TV studios, getting wheeled in to speak on the news as an expert in this or that, but shooting all over Bath over an entire day with Dan was great fun. We had kids desperate to get on TV without even knowing what the show was about. We had someone in a Manchester Utd shirt who insisted we should cover the story of his work with children’s football teams in Bath. We had people asking if it was ‘candid camera’. We had people laughing as I was getting my make-up done in the street.

It was certainly an experience to see how people react to a BBC camera out in the street. We certainly do live within a celebrity-obsessed culture. One woman outside Bath sports centre insisted that she already knew me because I am ‘famous and off the telly…’ even after I protested that there was no way she could know who I was, she just insisted!

I had assumed the hardest thing about doing pieces to camera in the street would be to remember my lines, but Dan had all kinds of ideas about how to take different shots, meaning I had to not only remember my lines, but also look in the right direction, walk in the right way, hit my spot on the pavement… then assuming I got all my stuff right we could still foul up a take if a bus had just gone past or some kids were screaming nearby. And even if there was no noise and I got my lines right, there were times when the camera-work could have been better. So you really do need to repeat the lines over and over until everything falls into place.

We spent the entire day filming in Bath, plus I still need to go to TV Centre in London to record some pieces in front of TVC and some voiceovers. Then there is a lot of editing to be done. It’s a lot of work for 4 or 5 minutes of television, but I hope you like it when it comes out.

Filming with BBC ‘Click’ in Bath

I’m filming in Bath today with the BBC. It should be a nice day in the sun down in Somerset.

This is all part of my battle with Google over them shutting down my Youtube account. All the three complaints against my account have now been dropped, and in each case, I never mentioned I was doing anything with the media. I just asked them to remove the complaint against me and each one agreed.

It’s a very interesting case and I’ll let you all know when the BBC plans to broadcast the show – it will be available online.

Will Sub Pop do the right thing?

I got a message from Jean-Michel Jarre’s lawyer telling me that they have dropped the copyright claim against my YouTube account. That’s great news. It means that after the Jimmy Carr claim was dropped, there is now just the one claim against me.

I know I could very well leave that single penalty on the account, but I’m also emailing Sub Pop records about that one too. The reason is that although the CSS management made a claim against my account in 2008 and I ended up with another copyright penalty, if you go to their website, they link to YouTube with the band name as a search term. So the band is actively using content uploaded to YouTube as promotional… I suspect they had a change of policy at some point since 2008, and now actually are seeing sense, that the fan videos help them to sell more music and concert tickets. I’m hoping that Sub Pop will remove the penalty against me too, so I can have a clean slate with YouTube once again.