Okay, so NOT a good week for Surface Unsigned. On Created in Birmingham, Danny Smith highlighted the fact that bands performing in their competition had to sell at least 25 tickets each in order to qualify for the next round, concluding that bands effectively had to pay to perform. Instead of entering the discussion, Surface Unsigned tried to put a stop to it, sending scary legal emails accusing Created in Birmingham of breach of copyright in reproducing a part of their contract.
Birmingham bloggers went nuts. Pete Ashton put out a call to arms, saying ‘you know what to do’, with a handy step by step guide for us novices that don’t. This was answered by the likes of Stef Lewandowski and Surface Unsigned ended up with shit all over their faces.
My favourite episode in the whole drama is Created in Birmingham, in order to avoid the supposed ‘breach of copyright’, translating the contract extract into LOLspeak. LOLspeak is a new revelation to me, which just goes to show how seriously behind the times I’m getting because ‘lolcat’ on Google comes up with thousands of images of fluffy animals saying cute things in this odd language. It’s like a cross between text, dyslexia and a 5 year old with a speech impediment. I love it and my own furry bundles of joy, Samson and Floss, are in grave danger of joining the trend.
By far the most bizarre, and therefore best example I’ve seen is loldeidre, Birmingham City Councillor Deidre Alden’s alter ego. Deidre Alden, like many suited executive types, is under the false impression that they are the most newsworthy thing about their work so must illustrate it with staged shots of them planting trees, cutting ribbons, reading residents’ association’s magazines with feigned delight, etc. The reason I like it so much is that I used to work in communications for a local housing association, so often found myself having a hand in staging this crap.
We had a cupboard full of photoshoot paraphernalia that housed matching small shiny spades, reams of wide ribbon, big posh scissors to cut it with, massive cheques (I always had the urge to fill one in and take it to the bank) and boxes and boxes of balloons to launch en masse into the sky.
Unfortunately I could never master getting the right helium levels in the balloons so they would pop within a half mile radius, littering the shiny new streets with deflated rubber attached to optimistic ‘Return to…’ tags. This meant for every balloon returned from further afield there was a correlating stamp in my passport. I must admit to a tinge of guilt when the local rag featured a picture of a smiling child proudly pointing to Paris on a map, where I’d just been for a lovely city break, but we had to have a photocall for the housing director and local politician sitting next to her.
Why is it Deidre and her ilk think this is the best form of publicity? The work they do, the people that thrive because of it, that’s what’s interesting. Not them, in their shiny suits, beaming next to uncomfortable looking, lesser mortals whilst pointing to a Newsworthy Object. Luckily the people behind loldeidre have done the only thing they could with Deidre Alden’s wealth of material and given her the personality of an over-eager primary school prefect.
Cult of Personality is for the mad and bad, and becomes just plain stupid when done on a small, localised scale. Mussolini was a big believer in it, and look what happened to him. However I just cannot bring myself to type a plea to end this madness. That would stop the whole joke, which it seems the more mischievous amongst us just can’t help expanding on.