Thursday, October 27, 2005

I Was a One-Minute Slut for the BBC

The omphaloskepsis inherent in blogging has struck here. Do not proceed if you are annoyed by self-absorption.

Over at Left in Lowell, the frenetically enthusiastic Lynne has been understandably pleased at her local celebrity. She is queen of her niche. She represents the good pinkos on radio, standing up to the ravers and naysayers of regression and otherwise waving the flag for the rest of us.

This blog, on the other hand, has had only a few moments in the spotlight when CNN sited and quoted us (honest to God, holding a laptop up with Marry in Massachusetts on screen and reading the post — a very kindergarten routine). No local media come begging for our opinions.

Yet even in the face of press neglect, we have never stopped navel gazing nor expecting the media fairies to appear at the bedstead. Like the other egotists in the blogosphere, we are always ready for the recognition sure to come in acknowledgement of our wit and wisdom, albeit self-published. In that framework, we can be neither shy nor humble.

Real celebrities make themselves newsworthy or gossip-worthy by revealing or inventing peccadilloes, fetishes and foibles. Yet here, we can offer not a criminal past nor marital infidelity nor even remarkable neuroses.

So, it was real delight when the Beeb emailed, then called. The charming, yea even mellifluous, Rabiya Parekh sent a note a few days ago. She was speaking for some fortunate beadle there in the BBC World section who spends his days (on salary!) cruising the blogs for goodies fit to air. It must be like cable TV, with so many radio and TV times to fill with something, anything with a theme

As it turns out, an off-subject post on blogging, not on marriage in our quirky and sometimes benighted commonwealth, caught his eye. For a new BBC radio feature, they were doing a segment on blogging. They Googled reaction to the Wired announcement that companies were blocking blog browsing during work. Mine was one, and I was likely the first to respond to an email request for a contact so they could call from Bush House, London.

The call from Rabiya to set up a phone input (and likely to make sure I did not have any serious speech impediment) was pleasant but humbling. She wanted my comment following a very serious discussion from Syrian and other Middle-East bloggers who were fined, jailed and beaten for expressing their criticisms of repressive regimes.

They would tape it all and broadcast it later in the week as part of a new series, World Have Your Say. Yes, Miss, whatever you want. Sit? Beg? Roll over?

I had a couple of hours before the show called for taping. She and I had spoken about the relative impunity of expression in America, even under Homeland Security and the Republican juggernaut. Here, I can get sued or have my sites shut down if I'm too extreme, but there is no prison cell waiting, much less 100 strokes with a cane.

Yet, I was the slut of the hour and fully prepared. I had notes on repressive trends here, on how the mass media shuck and jive, then run the same damned stories with slight variations. I had analogies and metaphors of the Wild West with us shooting with our sites instead of pistols. Blah, blah.

So, 13 minutes before I was on, Bush House was on the phone, plumping my ego...and making sure I was there and sober. In the headset, I overheard the awful, grave recounting of oppressive censorship and penalties for those who dared to do what we do with such abandon. I was quite ashamed of my privilege.

Those in the Arab world told their high drama and I was ready, right after the break.

Then it was time for what turned out to be Donkey Man. It was much like the Monty Python interview that parodies the Beeb so well, telling a child offhandedly to go out a find a cure for some terrible disease. Jolly good.

Questions to me were short, very narrow, very controlled and very LITE. I was an American blogger from Massachusetts, identified by name only and damn it, not by URL.

Some company was selling software to let companies block employees' looking at blogs. What did I think? After a minute or so of braying about managers being silly in blocking blogging just because they could, I was gone. I noted that employees should not be expected to work 8 or 10 hours straight, and if they were not taking time off cruising a blog or two, they would be in the kitchenette tossing back the caffeine and tossing out the prattle.

That was it. Thank you and good-bye. The Donkey Man was off and away.

That is not a tale to tell the grandchildren, if I ever have any. So, keep it to yourself.

1 comment:

Lynne said...

OMG, I was dying laughing at your account - you worded it so adroitly.

Hey, it's easy to get into local media - they're always looking for sluts--er, I mean, stories on local people. Getting on the Beeb is quite another level. :)

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