Wednesday, 23 November 2011

@damebrianmolko: a Twitter war

A couple of years ago my boyfriend and I were unhealthily obsessed with Placebo, to the point where our friends almost had to stage an intervention. We’d watch five or six concerts on my laptop in a row, and extol the virtues of Brian’s megaphone, boots, jacket, various hairstyles, clunky lyrics, the way he smoked a fag, his ridiculous pretentiousness: everything he did was entertaining and a thrill.
Meds-era concert Rock Am Ring was our zenith: everything was perfect about that gig, with the sunset going down, and the most amazing set list. We must have watched it forty times. We bored people rigid as everyone else on the planet went off Placebo in about 1996. We had too, but this second flush of love felt all the more real. It was also at a time when our relationship was still a bit of a novelty, so I think the two feelings intertwined.
I had the idea of setting up a Placebo-themed Twitter account because Placebo lyrics were bouncing round my brain so much. My boyfriend thought of the name @damebrianmolko and we both planned to tweet together. I think my boyfriend only did one in the end, but it was still a cool idea and I ran with it. If you read the tweets from the start it was a real labour of love, with some references that only the most geekiest of Placebo fans would get. I enjoyed doing it, but as my crush on Placebo faded a bit, my tweets also slowed down.
The tweets were silly and cheeky. I even did some in French which must have made zero sense. My intro was: London, Paris, Belgium. Singer, writer, sodomite.
Here’s a few sample tweets:
‘Wondering what songs to 'reimagine' later; I might write some new lyrics for Pure Morning, and then put a bit of trumpet on it.’
‘Steve Hewitt got my toy megaphone I used to use on Infra-Red as part of the divorce settlement. Instead I squawk thru my hands. Just as good.’
‘I put Stefan's silver suit on a hot wash when he was out. Now it fits me! He's gotta learn, I'm the frontman, I wear the silly clothes.’
‘Spite and Malice gets some stick, but Dr. Dre was doing the rap originally. Had to pull out because his nan was poorly. These things happen.’
‘Not quite sure how to tell Fiona that there won't be any violin on the new album. We're going to scrape a knife over a dustbin lid instead.’
‘Steve 2 hasn't called for a bit- hope he hasn't gone back to the Backstreet Boys.’
‘Going to a Halloween party as Kat Slater tomorrow. Have to tone down the eyeshadow a bit.’
Now, do they sound like something the REAL Brian Molko might write? Would the real Brian Molko really call himself DAME Brian Molko, for God’s sake? It’s an obvious pisstake. And if the REAL Brian Molko was on Twitter wouldn’t he have a tick by his name? And wouldn’t he be going on about jet lag and coffee and musical influences like he does in those interminable documentaries they release once per annum? I mean, come on, MY tweets were funny.
Apparently not, according to River Management (Placebo’s record company) and Placebo World (allegedly Placebo’s fan club, but also Placebo’s record company, as I got exactly the same message from both of them). They didn’t bother with any niceties, they simply sent me a DM saying: ‘you have been warned once to remove this account. get it done right now.’
Even reading that message again now makes my blood actually boil (yes, actually!) One: they’d never messaged me before in my life. Two: who the fuck do they think they are?! Twitters OWN POLICY states you can have spoof accounts: mine was barely even a spoof. Their behaviour, high-handedness and complete lack of respect for their own fans just really got my goat. Read those tweets again. Read this one: ‘When you get the Brixton DVD, you'll see the role of Stefan is being played by a stunt double, as it was his aunt's 60th birthday that night.’ Are they really hurtful? Are they really damaging Brian’s image, such as it is? Is anyone really fooled? Come on, now.
Never once were my tweets nasty or insulting (there was one about Brian having a zit once, but I didn’t even write that one, and that was as nasty as it got!) Never once did I ‘pretend to be Brian Molko’. If the odd foreign person asked me if I was, I said no.
The annoying part is you can’t even reply to those direct messages, so I messaged them openly on Twitter. Here are some of the replies I got back from the protectors-of-the-fans-and-image at @rivermanmgt and @placeboworld: ‘Plenty of people think it's real, you are a fake pretending to be Brian Molko?? Please delete your fake account.’ ‘you are a very sad and disturbed human being pretending to be Brian Molko. Lying to a lot of people is hardly 'fun'.’
They also hysterically tweeted: ‘DAMEBRIANMOLKO is a FAKE account, please do NOT follow this account. it IS 100% NOT BRIAN MOLKO.’ Note the capital letters for the hard of thinking.
One of my tweets said: ‘My beer can co-star in the Meds video became a good friend for a while, but things soured. Know your place, beery. In the recycling bin.’ And people think that’s real? And I’M the one who’s disturbed? Seriously, now I understand why when I used to read the NME in the 90s they had to put an asterisk after the end of sentences and go *this is a joke – it’s for thickos! I’m seriously considering sending out a few hundred emails out from a bank in Uganda and a dodgy hotmail address saying you’ve won 12 million on the lottery, all you have to do is wire me 100 grand, because people REALLY ARE THAT THICK. I’m astounded. I surround myself with sentient people, so to be face to face with such humourless, po-faced boneheaded denseness is actually quite shocking. It stunned me. Do they think that fake Cheryl Cole and that dead Princess Diana are real, too? Does dead Diana need a disclaimer for the mentally ill? Should we all write as if we’re writing for people with the mental age of three at all times, just in case someone gets an ickle bit confused? Put down that pen, next literary genius! *~*Eyelinergrrl*~* in Istanbul doesn't understand words of more than one syllable!
I don’t write for thickos, they’re not in my remit. I assume anyone who reads my blog to have a basic level of understanding of the written word, humour and an acceptance of stupid references. I thought Twitter was the same. Apparently not.
I got lots of supportive messages and tweets when I outed River Management and Placebo World as the humourless old crones they are, as well as a few cry-baby tweets from mental people saying ‘I thought you were real’. Yes, they thought this tweet was real: ‘Angelic fruitcakes are two for one in Asda all week’. Someone believed the actual Brian Molko was saying this. That Brian Molko was selling angelic fruitcakes (something that doesn’t even exist, need I remind you, and I think I DO need) in a cut-price supermarket. And that’s MY FAULT! Would it be MY FAULT if they thought the earth was flat, too, or if they accidentally drove their car off a cliff, because they were too dim-witted to work out where the brake was?
I think @TiaraBarbie summed it up best when she said to @RIVERMANMGT ‘well then plenty of people, including yourselves, are a bit thick. Treat your main bands fans better, seriously.’
No one could have written the tweets I did without encyclopaedic knowledge, and therefore love of, Placebo. Someone taking the piss would have had plenty of cannon fodder for a hateful Brian Molko character, (some of my friends have said things about Brian Molko that would make River Management’s eyes bleed) but I never did that. I’ve always defended Brian, no matter how humourless and silly he was. I’ll even defend those ‘think of me stuck in my chair that has four wheels’ lyrics if you really want me to, because they’ve given me enough laughs (although that was what made me go off Placebo for about four years). My Twitter account was tongue-in-cheek, fun, silly, whimsical. My Brian Molko was watching X Factor and Eastenders and tweeting about the Brian Molko museum in Belgium, FFS. Perhaps I should have mentioned the 100 foot Brian Molko effigy in France that is traditionally burnt over Halloween*
*this is a joke. They’d never burn that effigy in France, they love him over there.
Anyway. Placebo World and River Management have won. They’ve sucked the fun out of poor damebrianmolko. And they’ve cost the REAL Brian Molko money so far, because I didn’t buy the Brixton DVD as I was planning, because I refuse to line their pockets after they were so needlessly nasty to me. Instead I took a free month’s trial of Love Film and watched the live show and the documentary. Personally, I want my money back on the documentary, and as I said, I didn’t pay for it. But I enjoyed the gig. I enjoy Placebo’s music and although we haven’t watched Rock am Ring for a year or so, I know one day we’ll watch it again and moon over the decent version of Because I Want You (before it got reimagined) and we’ll coo over Infra-Red, and we’ll complain about Song to Say Goodbye. Because that’s what real fans do. They don’t blindly follow their idols, they know their idols faults, and they love that about them, too, and they make jokes about them, and talk about them. I know one day we’ll bust out Gurtenfest and dance to English Summer Rain and wish he moved around like that these days, and admire his mullet. But it won’t be the same. That crush is over, and River Management tore up the photos.
What a short-sighted, narrow-minded way to treat your biggest fans. It often amazes me how companies and organisations get things so wrong on social media, and end up alienating their target ‘market’. Well this is a prime example. I’ve probably given Placebo about £500 over the years on CDs and gig tickets, but I won’t be giving them any more. I wont be giving River Management any more, anyway. But I still love Placebo. Only slightly less than I used to.
And I’m not going to delete damebrianmolko. Because they really want me to, and I’m not going to give them the satisfaction. Besides, he might have something else to say, yet…
Anyway. It was started with love, and generally met with love until the bouncers got involved. As Brian himself said, 'the world is run by lying, balding know-it-alls.' Probably after he came out of a meeting with River Management.

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