EVEN in the bonkers, dystopian world of social media, you’d never think that children’s TV favourite Mr Tumble would become the latest victim of “cancel culture”.
Yet he’s been accused of racism over his famous catchphrase “Hello monkey” after a blatantly doctored video was posted online of him saying it to a young black girl.
A BBC spokesman said: “This video is clearly fake and it’s incredibly disappointing that someone would doctor footage of a much-loved children’s character, who actively promotes diversity and inclusion, in such an offensive way.”
Disappointing indeed. But perhaps even more so is the knowledge that certain people are actually dumb enough to believe that what they’re seeing is real.
“Proof Mr Tumble is racist,” said one. “Mr Tumble is cancelled,” said another.
It would be nice to think these sort of comments were limited to just a couple of morons permanently self-isolating from reality in their parents’ spare bedrooms, but according to one report, the fake video has been viewed more than two million times and prompted “tens of thousands” of negative comments.
Another user carried out a poll where “96 per cent” of their idiotically like-minded followers said Mr Tumble, played by actor Justin Fletcher, was racist.
That’s the other big problem with social media: It’s a vacuum where, more often than not, users only follow people who think like they do and, therefore, fake sanctimony, bigotry or, as in this case, a blatant lie can go unchallenged.
As far back as the 5th century BC, Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu wrote: “All warfare is based on deception.”
This ancient wisdom could equally be applied to the keyboard warriors who peddle wilful misconceptions or blatant mistruths that, even if they don’t actually end someone’s career, can see them damned for ever more by the “no smoke without fire” brigade.
Social media can undoubtedly be a force for good, but in the wrong hands it can also be used to great effect for manipulation, disinformation and potentially ruinous lies.
It’s a warped world where people can just spout their truth, without any evidence to back it up, and it becomes an accepted fact.
Or they can make a damaging declaration about someone else and, if the accused chooses not to play the game by responding, it is often assumed their silence indicates guilt.
This latest “cancel” concerning Mr Tumble is based on dangerous fabrication and hopefully the source of it will crawl back down the sewer they emerged from.
But meanwhile, those who have been taught how to think, rather than what to think, find themselves hounded off social media for daring to express an opinion that differs from those of various online activists who endlessly preach about tolerance while showing none themselves.
We must always have the debate. And where better to learn the noble art of looking at both sides of a story and coming to an informed opinion of your own? University, right?
Oh, hang on. Academics at the University of York have ruled that the Three Wise Monkeys — popular in Japan since the 17th century for their “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” proverb — are “an oppressive racial stereotype”.
Really? I always thought they were, er, monkeys. Dictionary definition: “A small to medium-sized primate that typically has a long tail, most kinds of which live in trees in tropical countries.”
Isn’t it racist to view them as racist? Discuss. Just not at the University of York.
Teens in need of life lessons
FORMER hostage negotiator Richard Mullender invites us to imagine that the person we’re talking to has a gun to someone else’s head.
“How would you talk to them? You wouldn’t want to aggravate them, would you? You have to be compassionate,” he says.
This, apparently, is the advice we should heed while dealing with frustrated teenagers trapped at home.
“Why did Somali pirates become pirates? They became pirates because the seas around Somalia were overfished and they had no other way to earn money. It’s all frustration and a sense of unfairness,” he adds.
Hmmm. Something tells me that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson might also be in need of Mr Mullender’s services if he doesn’t come up with a coherent plan to get disenfranchised teens back to school pronto.
‘Longest game ever’
MONOPOLY maker Hasbro has launched its “Longest Game Ever” edition, with double the amount of properties.
In Moore Towers, this simply means double the amount of arguments. So thanks, but no thanks.
Lauren's odd idea of old school
TOWIE star Lauren Goodger is expecting a baby with her boyfriend just three months after they officially started dating.
“We didn’t plan it but it feels as if it was just meant to happen,” says Lauren, 34.
“We were having quite a lot of sex. What else is there to do right now?”
Take an online needlepoint class? Clean out cupboards? But I digress . . .
Of their dates after the first lockdown was lifted, Lauren adds: “It was totally old-school. We’d been out for dinner and we got back to mine and were lying in bed. He looked at me and said . . . ‘will you be my girlfriend?’”
Clearly, the definition of “old school” has shifted somewhat since the days of Jane Austen and “taking a turn around the garden” with a chaperone in tow.
Bling is for heir heads
AT first glance, they resemble a Sylvanian Families suitcase or Stuart Little’s rucksack.
But closer inspection reveals designers are cashing in on the trend for wireless earphones by producing tiny carry cases ranging from around £300 to £1,200.
And plenty of websites are showing them as sold out – proving that some people have so much money they struggle to find stuff to spend it on.
Petra Ecclestone’s “gift-wrapping room” is a classic example, so too is Russian leader Putin’s alleged palace, with its own petrol station and underground ice rink.
Or how about the cast of my latest guilty pleasure, Netflix show Bling Empire? Focusing on rich Asians in LA, it follows the lives and friendship of predominantly young heirs with millions, if not billions, at their disposal.
Suffice to say, there’s a claw machine at a toddler birthday party that has designer handbags as prizes, rather than toys.
The rampant vacuity is compelling escapism in these challenging times, but it also plumbs hidden depths by showing that however much you splash out on the latest designer “must-have”, it doesn’t insulate you from feelings of abandonment, loss, insecurity and loneliness.
As Spike Milligan once said: “Money can’t buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.”
‘Talented but flawed’
THE BBC has apologised after its headline “Talented but flawed producer Phil Spector dies at 81” prompted complaints because it played down his conviction for murdering his girlfriend.
Given that the role of BBC news is to be impartial and simply give the facts, wouldn’t “Music producer Phil Spector dies at 81” have sufficed?
THE world’s first robotic kitchen will go on sale this year.
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It moves along a rail above your worktop and can fill pans with water, melt butter, fry mushrooms, cook pasta and conjure up pretty much whatever you fancy.
The drawback? It currently costs £248,000.
Plus, of course, you still have to do the shopping and the washing up.
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