YouTube: even the best bits are Danny Dire

User-generated sites are mostly full of rubbish, but there are a few gems out there - like Terry Alderton's parody of the Real Football Factories.

Patrick West

Patrick West

Topics Culture

Ever since it took off in the mid-1990s, the internet has been regarded as something of a paradox. This thing that diffuses information has also proved capable of spreading disinformation in such an alarming manner. Many have attributed the rise in conspiracy theories in recent years to a decline in organised religion, or a disillusionment with organised politics, but I suspect one of the chief reasons is more prosaic: we now have better access online to people spouting bollocks.

This week, Brighton’s professor of media studies (a Mickey Mouse position if there ever was one) announced that she has banned her students from using Wikipedia and Google as research tools, because they contain sources that are unreliable. Yes, we know there is loads of rubbish on the internet, but you only need a modicum of intelligence to be able to filter it. Footnotes to a respectable journal or media organisation are generally the standard to go by. Avoid statements written in capital letters or questions that begin ‘Am I the only one to have noticed?’. Chatrooms should be especially avoided. Chatting to a stranger on the web is like chatting to someone in the pub who insists the moon landings did not take place.

The alarm over internet misinformation is basically a political one. Should knowledge be democratised or should it remain didactic? It’s akin to the quandary as to whether we should elect people to govern us or have rule by plebiscite. With power comes responsibility.

Personally, I’m in favour of elitism and didacticism in all fields. This is because there are a lot of very stupid people in the world. I hate it when people use the word ‘elitism’ as a swear word. Really? If you needed a heart transplant, would you want your surgeon to have gone through an affirmative action programme? Or would you prefer that she or he was just very good at saving lives? If you were in a plane crashing on a runway at Heathrow Airport would you like Joey Deacon as your pilot? Would you like me to fix your boiler? No, I don’t think so.

The ‘power to the people’ question has also arisen vis-à-vis television, most notably with the rise of YouTube. This is a website where users not only upload clips from popular television shows, but also post their own home-made videos or mobile phone clips.

Despite being self-regarding, inconsequential and parasitic on the mainstream media, YouTube does throw up some gems. One of them that I discovered this week was a series of parodies of Danny Dyer, the mockney actor and presenter of Bravo’s The Real Football Factories.

The Real Football Factories was ostensibly a series of documentaries exploring the reasons behind football hooliganism, but it actually glamorised the phenomenon. Hooliganism does have a pornographic appeal, especially when you see it in real life. This, of course, doesn’t mean it should be approved of, just as pornography shouldn’t. Yet, this doesn’t mean it should be prohibited – if consenting adults want to get naked or kick the shit out of each other, that’s up to them. But that doesn’t make it a good thing.

Terry Alderton’s Real Football Factories spoof

Danny Dyer is a very irritating television presence. I’m sorry to go on about him again (1) and I apologise if I’m not being fair to the man. And yes, I do concede one of the reasons I’ve become devoted to hating him is because all women fancy him (while we’re on the subject, add Russell Brand). I’ve heard that he’s very pleasant in real life. But still, his Real Football Factories really need examination.

The programme has been summed up perfectly by a Facebook user called Heinz Kiosk on one of many web pages devoted to deriding him: ‘Why all his “Real Football Factory” programmes are the same: Danny Dyer, walking along some rough housing estate, legs akimbo, drawing furiously on his last cigarette, saying “I really shouldn’t be here. They really don’t like Cockneys in Glasgow/Newcastle/Liverpool etc etc”, saying that this is “a right muggy gaff” and that “the people I’m about to meet are some of the hardest nutcases around” and are “proper naughty”. Cue to Danny meeting people in a pub who are so stupid and Neanderthal that they wouldn’t even make it onto The Jeremy Kyle Show, and Danny laughs nervously while he tries to ingratiate himself with them by drinking his pint in a particularly hard manner. Danny and assorted morons go to the game. Danny repeats that this is “naughty” and that there’s going to be “a right old tear up”, then nothing happens. Programme ends.’ (2)

This is why I was delighted to see a parody on YouTube by ‘Danny Dire’ (3), as portrayed by the comedian Terry Alderton (4). Not only does he hilariously capture Danny Dyer’s absurd TV persona – his stupid walk, his speech impediment, his general mockneyisms – but the clips are surprisingly professional.

So, user-generated content does have its benefits. Yet there is also so much rubbish on YouTube in particular and on the internet in general. And the paradox remains: YouTube will never supplant television, just as blogs will never replace newspapers, because both are reliant on them. Terry Alderton’s ‘Danny Dire’ could only have existed because we have watched Danny Dyer on the television.

So I advise you to spend more time watching TV and less time online (with apologies to my editor). The internet is a right old muggy gaff, full of proper naughty characters looking for a right old tear up. You really shouldn’t be here. Know what I’m saying?

Patrick West is spiked’s TV reviewer. Visit his blog here.

Read on:

spiked-issue: TV

(1) See Please sir, can I have some more Dickens?, by Patrick West, 20 December 2007

(2) See the Danny Dyer, what a knob Facebook group

(3) See Danny Dire’s Facebook profile page

(4) Terry Alderton

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Topics Culture


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