OffG’s Quick Take: Mizzy, the walking strawman

Another day, another quick take. This one is about “Mizzy”. For anyone out of the loop, “Mizzy” is UK-based Tik-Toker who has enjoyed a somewhat meteoric rise to fame. Too meteoric to be natural, you might say.

I’ll lay it all out for you, and you can decide for yourself how organic this sudden celebrity may be.

As of this time last week, literally almost nobody in the whole world had heard of “Mizzy” – real name Bacari Ogarro – an 18 year old “prankster” whose only claim to fame had been an arrest for assault after stealing an Orthodox Jew’s hat as a “prank”.

Then, this week, his fame grew as people started posting more of his “pranks” all over social media. Like this one, where he just walks into a random house:

Or this one, where he steals a dog:

There were others, including destroying books in a library.

This raised profile lead to another arrest – allegedly. The video of the arrest is…odd. For example, the female police officer clearly appears to be waiting for a cue in this video:

You can also see she’s wearing slip-on shoes with no socks, hardly standard police issue.

Following this arrest Mizzy was barred from uploading further videos “without permission”, and given a “tiny” fine. Later the same day he was invited on to Piers Morgan’s TV show to talk about his pranks, where he declared British laws “weak”.

In a quote from one his videos, Mizzy even parrots the mainstream talking points about the internet, that people don’t care about anything but engagement:

I don’t let things affect me because you guys are on social media giving me what I want… you’re commenting on all these videos, you’re engaging, you’re posting me more, sharing me everywhere.”

As of today, despite his ban and arrest, Mizzy was back making “viral” videos, while the UK press ranted about his apparent impunity.

All of this is prompting a lot of talk about tougher sentencing and, of course, is paving the war for the Online Safety Bill to pass easily – perhaps with some new amendments. They have not been subtle about that, with Conservative MP (and candidate for London Mayor) Paul Scully tweeting:

As soon as the Online safety bill goes the hosting of this video will be illegal.

Note that he says “hosting”, not “filming” or “uploading”. It’s the platform that would be at fault, not the content creator.

It’s not hard to see how this is fuel for a few narratives, from the Online Safety Bill to the deliberate increase of racial tensions (there are some truly disgusting things being said).

The question we should always ask: What are the odds that’s all by accident?

To me, at least, it seems Mizzy has been designed to be everything bad about the internet hand-wringing Guardian editorials have moaned about for years, given enough attention to make him famous, and then barely punished to a) allow him to continue and b) generate discussion of “weak” internet laws.

Essentially, he’s a walking, talking, pranking strawman argument.


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