Friday, 6 May 2016

The Scandal of Boaty McBoatface

The National Environmental Research Council announced today that their new research ship, which was supposed to be named by public vote, will be named RRS Sir David Attenborough - a name which came fourth in the polls. Number one on the list, by a loooong way, was Boaty McBoatface.

Now, I love David Attenborough as much as the next middle-class vaugely-intellectual British person. But HE'S NOT BOATY McBOATFACE!

The establishment's objection to BMcBF appears to be based on people finding the name "silly". I don't think it's silly at all, and the refusal to use the name chosen by the population at large shows a singular disrespect for public opinion.

The naming poll, in itself, was a huge success in publicity terms. At the outset, I don't think the people at NERC* had any idea quite how much public awareness the poll would raise. A naming poll for a research ship isn't the kind of thing that gets millions of visitors. But once BMcBF was on the scene? Heck, yes.

People got attached to the idea of Boaty McBoatface. It (I want to call it "he", but I know ships are meant to be "she", so I'm going for gender-neutral) epitomised the British spirit of refusing to take anything seriously (see Boris Johnson? Yep, that's what I'm talking about. We actually ELECTED him). Boaty McBoatface was going to get itself noticed. We'd have been queueing out the door of Waterstones to buy the latest installment of The Adventures of Boaty McBoatface. Children would have pestered their parents for Boaty McBoatface lunchboxes. Parents would have named their offspring after it (ok, ok, maybe not, but you get the gist...)

And now what do we have? A research ship with a quite-nice-but-forgettable name. Apparently, as a concession to public opinion, one of the research vessels onboard will be named Boaty McBoatface, but it just doesn't work - it's a SUBMARINE, for crying out loud. Subby McSubface, maybe. But the BMcBF name was destined for greater things.

*say "Nerk", not enn-ee-aarr-see. I know this stuff, my dad worked for them for years. Also, Nerk expresses the way I feel about this issue in a far more satisfactory way

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