Downfall: Tom Harris MP
In reference to Labour MP Tom Harris forced to resign as Twitter tsar
So we can wave good bye to MP Tom Harris as the “Government’s New Media advisor”. I’m not quite sure what that means, but I’m guessing it’s some kind of nominal position resignation to save face.
So for just a second, forget what you think of Labour, the SNP, Scottish Independance, whether you like Tom Harris etc and let’s just concentrate on what actually happened, because it’s actually quite interesting.
Tom Harris took the well know Downfall/”Hitler reacts to” meme which rose to prominence in 2009 (described here on KnowYourMeme) and did a version about Alex Salmond/Scottish Independence.
He is being criticised for subtitling the video so that Hitler is a parody of Alex Salmond. I think the key word here is parody - it’s not a actually footage of Hitler himself – it’s a clip from a film – with actors – that has been re-subtitled millions of times before. The Telegraph even did a whole article including links to 20 of the best parodies.
If The Telegraph – an organisation not well known for edgy or deliberately controversial reporting – can view it as a style of humour to share with their readers, is it really worth the storm in a teacup this has become?
Tom Harris’s clip is quite a dull and tedious version of a worn out internet meme and I think I’d agree with the SNP spokesperson who said it was “silly and negative” but I still dispute it’s reasonable grounds for a sacking or a public kicking. The key point is that actually it’s not the spoof of Alex Salmond as Hitler that makes the video negative but because of the content of the subtitles.
An interesting fact that no one seems to have drawn upon yet, is how the clip is quite clearly casual Copyright Infringement. Under the Digital Economy Act, Tom Harris would quite be eligible for disconnection if he persisted in uploading copyrighted content without a licence another two times so it’s good to know he doesn’t support the bill. Oh wait, actually he abstained, which is pretty much a green flag of approval.
The technology which allowed internet memes to become mainstream, also brought with it, it’s own set of laws. Perhaps if Tom Harris had known of Godwin’s Law, then then he’d have known that this wasn’t a wise move:
there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress
Footnote: Tom Harris & I have sparred in the past. I think he is doing a really good job at trying to unseat himself – which is a shame because The Internet seems to be one of the only things he “gets”.