Pimp My Vote

I’ve recently become obsessed with the election, and because of that have spent a lot of time on iPlayer looking for anything to do with it, and the other day I came across a series that has been made for BBC3 aimed at reaching out to first time voters hosted by Dermot O’Leary (Link Below). Structure The episode I watched was an interview with Nick Power Clegg and I think it said a lot about both Nurture BBC’s view of young people, and the state of politics in general.

Naturally, the BBC are going to assume that the reason that young people aren’t interested in politics is because they don’t seek it out, so they need to present politics in such a way that they could come across it by accident and thing “oh this isn’t much different from the other stuff I like, such as ‘eye-POD’s’, ‘nd3 players’, ‘facetweet’, ‘X-Factor’ and ‘Family Man’”. Then young people suddenly like politics, society is saved and BBC3 gets some sort of award for something or other. So, they pinched Dermot O’Leary from X-Factor (presumably because they couldn’t afford Ant and Dec) to interview leaders of parties in an informal ‘down with the kids’ sort of way that isn’t anything like the stuffy, middle aged, middle class way of doing politics on Newsnight for instance.

The actual discussion portion of the show was often interrupted by montages of information about Clegg, and vox pops with token looking and not particularly well informed young people. (thus showing the uninformed young people that ‘this is just what young people are like, rather than showing the many young people who are incredibly well informed about these issues and giving them a chance to ask questions). The show also featured ‘RnB’ type beats as back ground music and a prolific over usage of hand held shots that zoomed in and out at random points (presumably to keep the young person’s attention because, as we all know, they can’t sit still for ten seconds without drinking and fornicating). It reminded me a lot of Pimp My Ride UK, (hence the title here), and I think they might as well have gone the whole hog and just got Tim Westwood to host it. The fact that Dermot O’Leary is actually quite a ‘down to earth’ presenter who was an ideal choice to introduce anyone (not just young people) to political issues was completely over shadowed by the ‘up in the clouds’ patronising style of production.

Now, the obvious path for me to go down would be the traditional whinge of anyone who has spent more than ten minutes working with young people about how this quite insulting to them. I’m not going to go down that line, because that line misses the greater point. I’m not concerned how the show tried to ‘get’ young people interested in politics, but that they did it at all. That is what I talk about in my next post.


BBC iPlayer: Dermot meets… Nick Clegg


  1. My guess is that the style used by the BBC is quite carefully designed for its target audience. Sure there are some young people who are incredibly well infomed and politics and current affairs but they are few and far between in my experience. And yes, many young people do appear to have short attention spans in an age of instant access media, so perhaps the BBC got it right.

  2. Ta for reading. They may well have got it right but like I said my problem was not so much with 'how' they attempted to get young people to vote, but 'that' a simply 'getting' or 'tricking' people to vote is what is perceived as being needed. This links to the next post, in fact it was meant to be its introduction, which I know you've read because I've read both your comments, because it is in opposition to actually engaging the young people in discussion in the way that you have done for me, for example. You might say 'but how can BBC ever really do that?' but that just adds to my point that media based politics has a trend towards a trickery that hopes the listener is thoughtless. You might also say "what is wrong with this?" but that doesn't change the fact that this is the nature of it, see an earlier post I did on 'Explanation vs. Justification'. Admitedly what becomes more explicit is that I do think that there is something wrong with it, but saying 'there is something wrong' is a different issue to 'it is this way'.

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