Last week on the German game show Wetten, Dass…? (Wanna Bet?), a contestant called Samuel Koch was seriously injured during a stunt on live TV. Wearing ‘Powerbock’ spring stilts, Koch was attempting to leap over a series of moving vehicles, one of which was an Audi being driven by his own father. As stunts go, it’s only a couple of danger levels below ‘getting your gran to shoot a Brazil nut off your head with a nail gun’, so there was always the risk that something could go wrong.
Unfortunately, the stunt came to an abrupt halt when his father clipped him during the jump, which left him with serious spinal injuries and multiple fractures. Koch now faces six to nine months of rehabilitation at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre.
But if you thought this story couldn’t get any more tragic, you’d be wrong. Why? Because pretty much every news report about the accident needlessly included – and in many cases focused upon – a certain 16-year-old Canadian pop star.
One report about Koch’s accident ran the headline: ‘Contestant injured during stunt on popular German reality show on which Justin Bieber was to appear’. The contestant’s name? Who cares? The nature of the stunt and the extent of his injuries? That’s not important right now. What is important, however, is that Justin Bieber was scheduled to appear on the programme. And let’s face it, he was probably very shaken by the incident. But don’t worry, Justin and his terrifying army of Stepford tweens are all praying for Samuel.
If Bieber himself had insisted on driving the Audi at speed towards Koch, before accidentally reversing over his broken body, then maybe I could understand his inclusion in the headlines. But I’m baffled as to why he’s even mentioned.
With this firmly in mind, I implore all student protesters – in fact, any protesters planning to march against anything in the coming weeks and months – to make sure you know of Justin Bieber’s schedule and general whereabouts before you hit the streets. If several students are trampled to death by charging police horses at the next demo (god forbid), it won’t get a single second of coverage in the news if Justin Bieber’s Christmas shopping is disrupted.
Justin Bieber was forced to cower for six hours yesterday in the Oxford Street branch of Superdrug as a baying crowd of students rampaged through the city. As students were trampled by horses, Bieber was forced to eat hair sculpting wax to survive. Tearful, terrified and with only the heat from some hair straighteners to warm his hands, he managed to get word to his fans via Twitter that he was OK. The hashtag #staystrongforJustin instantly became the social network’s top global trending topic.
Speaking to journalists last night, London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “This is outrageous behaviour from the protesters! Here we have a brave young man visiting this country to entertain thousands, and this is how he’s treated. Mr Johnson brushed off journalist’s questions about brutal police tactics and the numerous fatalities at yesterday’s demo, but confirmed that Justin Bieber and his entourage would not be charged for the toiletries they ate during the siege.
If you want your cause to instantly become a footnote in the news media, it seems all you have to do is terrify (or at the very least, inconvenience) someone famous. Or even better: a Royal.
When Charles and Camilla’s Rolls Royce came under attack during last week’s tuition fees demo, it was a prime example of how not to demonstrate and raise awareness of your cause. Let’s face it, all it took for the newspaper front pages to be transformed into this was a two minute skirmish involving a few hurled bottles and paint bombs, and some moronic “off with their heads!” nonsense.
Of course, it didn’t have to be a Royal. The media seem keen to seize on any acts of violence and intimidation that ultimately harm the protesters’ cause. The headlines could just as easily have read: “Sickening scenes as Quiz Call presenter’s Renault Clio is set upon by students. Protesters farted into their hands and tossed imaginary guffballs at stricken presenter.”
I feel extremely sorry for the majority of students who protested passionately and peacefully last week prior to the vote on tuition fees. After all, judging by the photos of the violent protesters the Metropolitan Police are currently looking to identify, there doesn’t appear to be a genuine student among them. If anything, one guy looks like he could be reading ‘knife attack studies’ while another looks like he’s just graduated to GBH from ABH.
Most, if not all of them, will likely be anarchic interlopers. But I guess it’s also not inconceivable that last week’s demo could’ve been destroyed from the inside by well placed agent provocateurs. After all, it’s a police tactic that’s been exposed at demos elsewhere in the world over the last few years.
In August 2007, three undercover officers of the Sûreté du Québec were confronted by union leader, Dave Coles, posing as protesters at the ‘Stop the SPP‘ protest at the Montebello summit, Quebec. With their faces covered and one of them holding a rock, they seemed prepared to incite violence in order to discredit the peaceful protest and provide an excuse for riot police to move in on the demonstrators. But the killer clue as to their true identity was evident in the photos of their arrest, which showed them wearing the same standard-issue boots as those of the arresting officers.
The police later admitted placing the three undercover agents in the crowd, but claimed their role was to “locate and identify non-peaceful protesters in order to prevent any incidents”.
Similarly, during the Greek riots of 2008, damning footage came to light of hooded and masked “activists” violently smashing shop windows. However, these same troublemakers were later filmed chatting peacefully with police, while still brandishing the metal poles they’d used to vandalise shop frontages.
Nothing is ever quite what it seems.
So at the next protest – whether it be tuition fees or UK Uncut – make sure you distance yourself from the masked mentalist in the crowd waving a ten-foot metal pole at police; don’t attack any members of the Royal family; and for god’s sake make sure you know exactly where Justin Bieber is so he doesn’t steal your headlines. The little shit.