We’re used to the Guardian getting things wrong. It’s usually typos (it’s not nicknamed the Grauniad for nothing), accusing burlesque of being little more than posh stripping or lauding cabaret at the Edinburgh Fringe without actually naming any of the performers or shows. They send theatre critics to cover highly technical circus shows (we look forward to the day they invite a circus critic to write about the latest overhyped NT revival) and every summer they pretend that the Fringe has little more to offer than comedy and theatre.
Their latest faux pas is no less risible and even raises questions over their journalistic ethics. After Michael Gove professed that he quite liked a spot of the old chap hop, the newspaper contacted Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer, one of the musicians named by the Secretary of State. In Mr B’s words, “The Guardian asked me to write a piece for them then COMPLETELY missed the point.” The article in question makes a nod towards chap hop’s recent political connection but effectively whales on chap hop from the get-go: “It’s an ironic and anachronistically British take on rap – and if that’s not enough to put you off, it turns out that Michael Gove is…a big fan.”
The article goes from bad to worse: “It sounds like music for people who hate music.” and “Spot on. And, just to reiterate, this is the education secretary’s favourite type of music.” Conflating a politician’s record collection with that music’s merits is bad, wrong and ludicrous even in the context of some poor attempt at humour. Worst of all is asking an experienced musician to contribute to an article then misrepresenting his work, something which is beyond reprehensible. The way the article compares Gove’s passion for chap hop with Gordon Brown’s appreciation of Arctic Monkeys is, in this case, way off the mark. Gove has been a fan for quite a few years according to fellow chap hopper, Professor Elemental: “I found out a while ago, when I first started, (Gove) got in touch with me and said he was a big fan. And I’ve never come so close to giving up.”
Given the stream of comments below the Guardian’s article, it looks like we’re not alone in our sentiments. As one commenter says, “what was the point of this article? Very badly written and completely misses the point.” Another writes that it “seems like bad form to mock a rich and interesting music genre purely based on someone who happens to like it.” Quite.