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21 Jun 19

Weekly Media Trends (21 Jun 19)

Trends > 21 Jun 19

Borkowski Weekly Media Trends: Top Gear rainbow cars | Influencer proposal sham | Keanu Reeves | Mark Field

Borkowski Weekly Media Trends

The race to be the next Prime Minister is chuntering into inertia so here's some other stuff that's been happening in the media this week, only one of which is a politician embarrassing the whole country...how's that for positivity!?
 
Top Gear's Rainbow cars hint at bright Post Clarkson future 

Top Gear, the scripted reality prank show in which straight white men pretend to be interested in cars as a pretext to wind up unsuspecting members of the public and espouse right-wing political views, has undergone a second reincarnation since its most successful presenting trio, The Clarkson Sisters, left in 2015 to do a show for Amazon that’s pretty similar just shorn of any pretence of being about cars.
 
The problem with the first reincarnation is that it didn’t do enough of the prank-y stunts which garnered the show its colossal following in the noughties, so it will be encouraging to producers and audiences that the new series has kicked off with a neat stunt in which the presenters have driven rainbow-clad cars around the notoriously homophobic state of Brunei.
 
It’s not dissimilar to that classic time the Clarksons wrote ‘Man Love Rules’ on a car they were driving around the US Deep South, nearly getting themselves lynch-mobbed in the process. But it’s a sign of how times have changed that the producers and publicists on the show had sense to put on an outright display of solidarity with the Pride movement this month, rather than simply using the LGBT* rights movement as a vessel for puerile humour.
 
It’s not perfect. Pinkwashing is another trend we’ve been following closely. But what remains to be seen is whether these new, more 21st century sensibilities can be balanced with the stunty sensibility of Top Gear at its peak.
 
'Spontaneous proposal': is viral sham another step in the fall of the influencer?

With war in Iran looming, Boris cruising into Downing Street and Scotland’s cruel departure from the World Cup, there is more than enough to be depressed about – but we thought that we would add to the list. This week, a peep behind the curtain of the Instagram Influencer business model revealed what we have long suspected. The business of influencing is just as fake and cheap as it smells.
 
This week a self-professed ‘ambitionist’ was whisked around the planet by her boyfriend on a magical mystery tour. The details are glamourous, interminable and entirely undermined by the fact they’re being experienced exclusively through a camera. The premise was that she had no idea what was planned or why. It was a beautiful adventure, followed by a magical proposal.
 
But all was not as it seemed…
 
It is strange to record a life event like a proposal for the benefit of thousands of strangers, but it is perverse to pre-plan it for financial gain. Unfortunately for this young couple, who should’ve been enjoying the warm glow of love’s young dream, a despairing (and entirely sane) leaker decided to give their professionally designed pitching pack to the press, revealing an hour-by-hour plan for the ‘spontaneous’ proposal – from which it’s clear that the bride-to-be was very much aware of it beforehand- offering sponsors the chance to have their products artificially placed into proceedings for a tidy fee. This was the Trueman Show, but Truman is aware, and you aren’t.
 
Does the exposure of this grotesque commodification of love mark the decline of the influencer? The business model that relies on a faux-personal relationship between hawker and punter must surely suffer once such deception is revealed. Or not. Our short online memories have made us forgiving; so as long as influencers keep pumping out content which makes us feel special and welcome, we’ll continue to marvel at viral fluff and suck up the products embedded in it. It’s a cycle which has been in motion for years. Remember this.

 
Keanu Reeves: 'Strange Things are Afoot'

From cult-hero to TIME Person of the Year candidate, Keanu Reeves proves nice guys don’t always finish last.

Coming into the press junket to promote John Wick 3 – the third instalment of the pulp action movie series starring Reeves as the title character- he could have been considered a reluctant celebrity, not partaking in any social media and always shrouded in a thick fog of enigma.

All of this has tended to give him the air of a B-List actor who does A-List films. But suddenly he’s everywhere. A constant viral presence weeks after the modest success of his latest film. Is this a natural reward his silent acts of philanthropy, timeless wisdom and apparent agelessness?

We think there’s a more powerful factor than good karma at work here. Memes.
There are two factors which have made Keanu so meme-able: the first touches on the above; he’s (by all accounts) a lovely guy, fascinatingly distinctive to look at, and a Bill Murray-esque provider of apocryphal anecdotes and urban legends.

The second is that his fanbase is so naturally predisposed towards meme culture – Reeves’ filmography is a geek’s almanac and if you drew a venn diagram between Bill and Ted, Dracula, The Matrix and John Wick then in the middle, alongside Keanu, you’d probably find a lot of fans with a borderline unhealthy obsession with Reddit and photoshop.

So of course his every move is going to become a meme. The internet won’t leave him alone despite him taking no part in it.

Mark Field is cancelled

Whatever the (in our opinion limited) merits of Greenpeace entering Mansion House last night, Tory MP Mark Field must have known, as soon as that protestor’s cheek hit the pillar, that his short-term career as a government minister was over.
 
The only political figure in recent memory to ride out having perpetrated a physical assault on a member of the public is John Prescott and that was nearly twenty years ago in retaliation to another man who’d thrown an egg at him (not condoning the punch BTW), and the fact that he survived that is still a minor political miracle.
 
Field enjoys none of these extenuating circumstances. He won’t survive.
 
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