If you are a citizen of the United Kingdom, and have had any contact with the outside world, whether by staring with frazzled eyes at your computer, television or smartphone, or maybe even by stepping outdoors and speaking to someone face-to-face, you might have noticed that Margaret Thatcher is no more. She ceases to be. She has expired and gone to meet her maker…
The polarizing ‘ex-prime minister’, in death, is still at the centre of a bizarre controversy. A viral campaign has unfolded to get the Wizard of Oz soundtrack snippet ‘Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead!’ to number one in the UK Singles chart. As of Saturday 13th April 2013, those backing the campaign are doing a very good job of it. At this moment, the song has topped the iTunes Charts. As of Friday, the figures suggest that the song will enter the charts at number three this Sunday. Whether this will remain the case is yet to be seen.
It’s been 22 years since Margeret Hilda Thatcher stepped down from her post as prime minister. It’s also been 22 years since I entered the world. Me being just four months old at the time of her retirement could mean that I have too little knowledge to express a valid opinion on her ways. On the other hand, it could mean that my view is more pure and unbiased, having not lived under her charm or wrath.
Either way, my issue isn’t with Baroness Thatcher, or with those buying the record, but with the BBC.
The BBC’s duty is to report news impartially and without the bias that a privately owned News International publication is entitled to. A BBC News report headline should be ‘British troops down Argentinean ship during Falklands conflict’, and not, ‘hell yeah, us Brits owned their asses’ as others may do.
However, the BBC have decided to take what I think is the most offensive move of all, by choosing to ignore a very large story. On Friday, it was announced that the already miniscule 51-second track (it is already the shortest Top 10 single ever) would be abridged, broadcast not as an entertaining moment as will be the case with the other 39 songs in the chart, but as a news report. Interestingly, The Daily Mail have called this a ‘cop out’ for giving in and still playing some of it, albeit just five seconds of it.
She was one person. A very important woman, but nonetheless just a single being, and a debatably tasteless act by over twenty-thousand people has been shunned. Like it or not, it is happening and it is noteworthy, but the BBC have chosen to censor it.
The BBC are not forced to express their views on why it is there, and don’t even need to explain why it is there. If on a live edition of Question Time, a guest unpredictably chooses to express their racist, sexist and homophobic views, pledging to begin a new Aryan race, it is down to the public’s common sense to realize that those were not the words of the BBC. This is a similar situation. It is notable news, as is the whole of The Chart Show, an entertaining three-hour news report of the music world, and is being pushed aside.
The TV-license funded BBC, the supposed stream of straight unbiased news (at least in context of the country as a whole, as following UK sports teams is inevitable and understandable), has chosen to follow that moral only at their own leisure. There is still no justification for censorship of the truth. Forcing mourning upon a nation and choosing to suppress the campaign as much as possible, as harsh as the term may be, sounds like propaganda to me.
It does make me wonder how far the BBC will go with their precautions. When will they next air The Wizard of Oz? Perhaps they will hide it indefinitely, just in case a ruthless leader dies, and the Tin Man lamenting about being ‘heartless’ would be offensive. It really is remarkable, that such a joyous tune, no matter how blunt the lyrics are, has caused such a fuss. If you want a song to REALLY wind up broadcasters, moan about the government and speak out against censorship, look no further than:
But believe it or not, despite this complaint, I don’t want the song to top the charts, for reasons totally detached from politics, taste and the BBC. It is the state of the chart itself. The clear polar opposite of intention between Jarvis Cocker’s ‘Cunts…’ and The Wizard of Oz’s ‘Ding-Dong!’, is a symbol of the latter song’s tameness, and thus the importance of its presence in the charts. It is brilliant that a song that doesn’t belong on the radio (unless, Wizard of Oz was the favourite film of a guest on Desert Island Discs) was so low in the Midweek Top 10, and caused mass hysteria.
It is just the kind of reinvigoration that the lower Singles Chart needs, in a music world where songs are either number one or almost irrelevant. Were the song to stay at a meager position, for once, the chart might matter. That can only be a good thing.