BBC commissions news animation from Taiwan

The BBC’s flagship Newsnight in-depth news programme has turned to Taiwan to create a special news animation of the election-losing Brown-Bigot incident

“Newsnight have turned to cutting-edge animators, Apple Daily to capture some of the key moments of the UK general election campaign in cartoon form. This week the animators have turned their attention to the Gillian Duffy affair, in which Gordon Brown was caught calling a Labour supporter a “bigoted woman” [after she mentioned local concerns about the rate of immigration from Eastern Europe]. Watch a special edition of Newsnight on Saturday 1 May 2010 at 6.20pm on BBC Two, then afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.”

Nice to see such small breakthroughs for news/political animation, but I wonder if we’ll ever see satire as powerful as the Spitting Image of the 1980s? A wave of satirical/political viral animation simply hasn’t emerged during the current UK general election (even from the fringe parties, even with Muvizu being free) and the nation votes on Thursday. So I kind of doubt such animation will appear at all. Which is ironic, since the UK has penniless wannabe comedians and scriptwriters in abundance, and a great tradition of eccentric comedy and biting satire. I guess the great British public are just so tired of being lied to and betrayed by our politicians that even the idea of uncensored animated political satire gets a collective shrug of the shoulders. Plus, most modern politicians are so bland and stage-managed it’s difficult to spot personal quirks to magnify.

Talking of censorship, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper surveys “America’s disappointing reaction to South Park censorship“. Although there are some signs of a backlash — apparently there’s an “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day” protest set for 20th May. Mark Steyn has his usual inimitable summary of the fracas…

“Faced with this explicit threat of violence, what did Comedy Central do? Why, they folded like a Bedouin tent. They censored “South Park”, not only cutting all the references to Mohammed but, in an exquisitely post-modern touch, also removing the final speech about the need to stand up to intimidation. […] Imperceptibly, incrementally, remorselessly, the free world is sending the message that it is happy to trade core liberties for the transitory security of a quiet life. That is a dangerous signal to give freedom’s enemies. […] So the brave, transgressive comedy network was intimidated into caving in and censoring a speech about not being intimidated into caving in. That’s what I call “hip” “edgy” “cutting-edge” comedy: They’re so edgy they’re curled up in the fetal position whimpering at the guy with the cutting edge, “Please. Behead me last. And don’t use the rusty scimitar…” “

Given the car-bomb, just now discovered in Times Square adjacent to the offices of Viacom (which owns South Park), I guess the cringing self-censorship was futile anyway.