Is it safe to come out yet?
No, this isn't a parody - at least I'm pretty sure it isn't a parody.
Armando Iannucci stopped making The Thick of It many years ago, and it's easy to see why. Even he could never have imagined that politics in the UK would reach these levels of ludicrousness.
I had to watch it through one squinting eye and the gaps in my fingers, but I could swear I just saw Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and for some reason Sport, voluntarily appearing in a TikTok in which she raps (or speaks in rhymes), about the forthcoming Online Safety Bill.
Maybe Ms Dorries has just decided to take one for the team here, to distract from our scandal-riven Prime Minister? If so, the viewing figures (209 likes at the time of writing) might indicate that she hasn't quite hit the mark just yet. The multi-billion pound cost of living measures, which were announced the day after the Sue Grey report, probably did a more convincing job of distracting the public, but this was a valiant and selfless effort by the Secretary of State...
Anyway, back to the TikTok.
I won't go into too much detail about the TikTok itself, because quite frankly I can't bear to keep re-watching it. I'm not sure if the Secretary of State was having a laugh with us, but someone was.
Admittedly, as a 40 year old, I'm probably not her target audience, but I'm struggling to work out who is.
My TOP 5 highlights
For what it's worth, here are my top five moments to look out for:
1. "We're passing some new legislation, to make the internet safer for the younger generation..."
This is accompanied by clip from 90s comedy, 30 Rock, showing a 60 year old Steve Buscemi trying to pass as a teenager in an American high school. The irony hurts so, so bad.
The inclusion of that meme is genius if it's a commentary on older people masquerading as children online and putting them in danger, but it's just as likely that whoever edited the video is having a good laugh at Boomers trying to shoehorn themselves into Gen Z culture by making toe-curling TikTok videos...
2. "...and puts in measures to defend free speech". At this point, an article from The Times flashes up with a headline that says "Online Safety Bill poses no threat to free speech". Great proof for Ms Dorries' claims about protecting free speech you might think, until you look a little closer to see that the author of said article is Chris Philp MP, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy. Mr Philp's remit includes... drumroll.... the Online Safety Bill.
Well, I suppose teenage culture includes marking one's own homework...
3. Dubling down on this claim, the Secretary of State goes on to sing/rap/say: "Is it true it will impact, freedom of expression? ...NO!"
That's quite a 'bold' claim, because it WILL inevitably impact freedom of expression. To say it will have no impact on freedom of expression seems to me to be a tad misleading, or, dare I say it, potentially "fake news". Oh the irony heaped on more irony. Perhaps a clip of a cow pat might have been spliced in at this point.
The Secretary of State (remember, this is the UK's Secretary of State for Culture) goes on to explain, in a less concise and catchy way: "We've put in legal protections in the 19th section."
At least "19th section" rhymes with "freedom of expression"... kind of:
4. The mic drop. Standard.
5. The hashtags. The copy accompanying the video says:
yes... that's right... "#internet". And "#blowthisup".
Credit where it's due
It's easy to criticise though isn't it?
Yes, it is.
Where can you watch it?
If you must, you can watch it here.
But if you value your own online safety, make sure you're sitting sit down and not sipping a cup of tea while you watch this.
Also, if you have a shred of credibility left with your children, make sure you protect that credibility (and protect your children's eyes and years) by making sure they're not in the room when you watch this.
I for one hope that our ministers take their day jobs a little more seriously, and leave the content creation on TikTok to... literally anybody else.
And if the Sec of State is reading this... I know you won't mind this cheeky article because I know you have a sense of humour, Minister.
At least I hope so, otherwise, I really can't explain this video.
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