Channel 4 Get It Badly Wrong – Punk In The Right Wing Spotlight

Once again punk rock groups are wrongly associated with Right Wing politics – Joe Whyte speaks out. With an impassioned quote from Mick Geggus of Cockney Rejects.

Last night saw another in Channel Four’s series of  “exposes” of the raw, rabid underbelly of British politics. The channel have already aired a hotly-debated series of fly-on-the-wall docs in the last year or so. That being  the car-crash that was Young, Angry and White and last evening (14/1/2015) saw a one-off about far right splinter groups (splintered from the apparently too-moderate EDL that is) entitled Angry. White And Proud.

The programme, for what it’s worth, was a mainly meat-and-potatoes look at a couple of individuals involved with anti-muslim groups whose views could be pigeonholed somewhere right of Heinrich Himmler; the days of C4 programming decent, thought-provoking and dare I say it, intellectual documentaries seem to have been lost in the fog of Big Brother and shows about obese people’s struggles. It’s become something of a Sunday Sport on our screens. Z-list “celebrities” and the misery of the unfortunate seems to be the staple of content meetings at the channel these days.

Angry, White and Proud would have done nothing, it has to be said, for the cause of the right wing; the sad-arses portrayed in it were a pathetic cross-section of the disillusioned British underclass. Guys who were clearly ex-football hoolies (lots of Stone Island and Danny Dyer swagger going on) and hangers-on of the Wealdstone Raider standard of not-very-good street fighter gathered on train platforms and coach parks on their way to demos outside of mosques that were just like those old “away-days” that they so clearly missed. A chance to shout and do the old “come on then” hand gestures at “the lefties” (mostly student-types by the looks) and Muslims, whilst getting a good drink was the sum total of these fellas political ambition. There was some very vague notion of pride in “Engerland” and WW2 got a few mentions but the whole charade was rendered ridiculous by the main protagonists mum (who he’d moved back in with following losing a job after being pictured at a RW demo) insisting that he shouldn’t be a racist as his parents were both immigrants from Italy and Ireland.

The thing that struck me most, however, in the quite alarmingly violent riot / demo sequences was the blatant use of punk songs to soundtrack the footage. There was lengthy use of “Oi Oi Oi” by the Cockney Rejects as well as The UK Subs “Warhead” as we saw and heard a monologue from one guy as he bemoaned the state of the country due to his perception of an influx of  immigrants.

Most Louder Than War readers will be more than aware of the anti-nazi sympathies of both of these groups. The Rejects, in particular, spent large portions of the seventies actually fighting these guys and The UK Subs (who have a Japanese guitarist!) had issues last year where they rapidly distanced themselves from some white power skin band who’d managed to ingratiate themselves a support slot by some deception. I spoke to Mick Geggus last night during the show and he was livid about the use of his songs. He then emailed me this statement this morning:

“When I heard that Channel Four had used a section of ‘Oi Oi Oi’ in a programme including themes of racism, I was so angry I nearly choked.
“If the privileged, middle class twats had even bothered to listen to the lyrics, they would know that ‘The kids they come from everywhere, the East end’s all around’ means exactly that – a rallying call to kids across the globe, from Athens to Zanzibar.
“My band and I have fought narrow minded people from both sides of the political divide for over three decades now, and we have the scars to prove it.
“If it’s the last thing I do, I will not let Channel Four get away with this slanderous act.”
Mick Geggus.

I’m not sure what the process of utilising music for TV that is in the public domain is, but I would have though that there would have to be some type of dialogue. I’m happy to be corrected.

The main issue, however, is that once again, two bands who have literally fought the good fight, are associated with Right Wing extremists; at the very least the groups are due a public retraction and apology. Legal action may be pending, I’m not party to that.

For any readers who saw the show, the Channel 4 website has a very simple complaints procedure. I urge you to use it by clicking the link below:

channel4.com/4viewers/contact-us

All words by Joe Whyte. More from Joe can be found by visiting his Louder Than War Author Archive.

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20 comments on “Channel 4 Get It Badly Wrong – Punk In The Right Wing Spotlight”

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  1. I was furious to hear the misuse if punk in this film .. totally unacceptable. .I will be using the complaint procedure.. they should apologise to the bands involved!

  2. I suppose the opposiite approach would have given a bunch of right wing bands some royalty money. Probably should have used the “fake” oi from the Romper Stomper soundtrack in the piece.

  3. If this song is truly in the public domain then there is no restriction on it’s use. However, this seems unlikely as only very old works are in the public domain (ie out of copyright). Copyrighted works are subject to clearance from composer as copyright holder and additionally clearance from performers as copyright holders. This copyright does not expire until 70years after the death of the composer…so it doesn’t apply here! Copyright law only comes into force when someone makes a complaint about another person’s misuse of music.

  4. Marcus Blakeston

    I think UK Subs got the worst deal out of it, the opening lyric “soldiers of islam are loading their guns” was the only line audible over the talking, so it’d be easy to see it in a bad light if you didn’t know the song. That might give them some scope for a retraction/apology. As for copyright, both bands gave away their usage rights to those songs to their respective record corporations. And it would be those corporations that gave C4 permission to use them.

  5. There is a part of copyright law called ‘moral rights’ which includes a right to integrity of how your work is used: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_rights_in_United_Kingdom_law#Right_to_object_to_derogatory_treatment

  6. Channel 4 get it badly wrong-punk in right wing spotlight!

  7. Apologies as i was cut short about the above mentioned channel 4 pile of pants programme.Wrongly labelling our Very good and decent fellow bands the Rejects (My lifelong mates) & the Subs great bunch of geezers with with bad rubbish.It’s well out of order.As for the Tosser of the programmes producer they obviously haven’t listened to the bands music passionately enough and didn’t ask for their permission neither to air the tracks.The channel 4 wankers!

  8. Totally disgusting. Has nothing to do with the rejects or punk. Typical channel 4.

  9. Channel 4 get it wrong once again…..

  10. Can yo not get someone who works for ch4 to do there homework regarding the programme shown this week involving right wing nazi scumbags . Using tracks by the cockney rejects , along with the UK Subs was a disgrace , shame on you and your shitty little channel …… Danny

  11. Lazy film making . An overall awful programme . It’s hard enough keeping morons away from our music scene without ill informed lazy journalists getting it wrong

  12. absolute joke! Doesn’t give these bands a good name, I love the rejects & I know they are far from any racist & right wing rubbish, insult! Coyi

  13. the cockney rejects are such a sweet band they would never have anything to go with people who have no brain, so please get soneone who works for you. who is knows what they are doing

  14. I hate how Punk all get’s linked too all those Nazi Kants, I’m not a Nazi & never will be. They’re just scum of the earth. And Cockney Rejects are a Nazi Hating Punk/Skin band Oi, Oi, Oi!

  15. Flagrant disregard for the bands views to play their music against a backdrop of racist vitriol

  16. Heini Bielefeld /Germany

    what a poor kind of journalism.. fuck off C4 and all the others!

  17. I complained to CH4 straight after the programme went out as follows;

    ******
    As a fan of the bands The UK Subs and The Cockney Rejects I want to register my disappointment at the fact you featured both bands music as a backdrop to scenes within the documentary Angry, White and Proud about a far right splinter group.

    Neither bands in my experience of following them have ever supported or condoned racism of any kind and are certainly not politically motivated that I have ever witnessed.

    Your research teams appear to have selected a couple of tracks based on ignorance and I’d be keen to know if either band agreed to their music being used in this way.

    The UK has a very strong and healthy Punk music scene and programmes like this tarnish it, its followers and the bands and their music especially when that music is used purely for sensationalism as it appeared to be in this instance.

    It ironically does nothing to help diversity when non Punk music viewers see programmes like this and who could be forgiven for thinking these bands are linked in some way to right wing sentiments when its clear that this is not the case.

    I have no links to any of these bands personally nor any political allegiance, I’m just a music fan who thinks this ill researched documentary was let down by the music used.

    At the very least I’d have expected the bands concerned to have been approached for their views before their songs were used.

    I’d also like to see an apology issued to the bands and the many thousands of non right wing followers of the same who work hard as fans to ensure diversity at gigs and within the music scene we all love.
    *********

    This is the reply I got back.

    Thank you for contacting Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries regarding ANGRY, WHITE AND PROUD.

    We are sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the music that was selected for this programme, which you felt was inappropriate. Channel 4 has a remit to tackle difficult issues and explore marginalised subject matter. This observational documentary is a true reflection of the film-makers? experience. We do not believe that use of music in Angry White and Proud communicates to the audience an endorsement of the music by contributors in the film. The audience recognises that the music is the choice of the film maker and not the people who appear on screen. We hope that the audience accepts the music for what it is: a part of the creative film making process and not an attempt to align the characters of the contributors with the complex histories of the individual musicians who recorded the songs. Nevertheless, please be assured your complaint has been logged and noted for the information of those responsible for our programming.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate all feedback from our viewers; complimentary or otherwise.

    Regards,

    Scarlet Lewis
    Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries
    ———————————-

    So as you can see a load of old flannel of a response.

  18. Nothing changes …….. Shave ya head & wear Docs and your a nazi???? Use ya grey matter C4.

  19. I had the privilege of meeting & hanging out with Cockney Rejects at their show in Los Angeles. They are some of the coolest people you will ever meet. I’m Latino and one of their opening bands, Viernes 13, are also Latino. White racist bands don’t mingle and share a stage with minorities, period.

  20. Sorry Channel 4, but you are miles off with this. The Cockney Rejects are and never were a far right outfit. So using one of their tracks in your credit sequence of a program about racists, is for me. DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER.

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