When Does The Performance Start?
What Mizzy and your kid have in common
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Also: apologies that this has come a day late—posts usually land on Fridays, but travel this week put me a bit behind.
Have you heard of Mizzy?
His real name is Bacari-Bronze O’Garro, an 18 year-old TikTok personality from London. Popularity and notoriety have recently attended him in equal measure on TikTok. He’s an extreme prankster. His talents include walking into a family’s house, stealing an old lady’s dog, ripping up a library book in front of staff, and asking people if they want to die. There’s a fairly comprehensive thread of the videos here, if you care to watch. Public outcry against his evident crimes, thankfully, put Mizzy in court earlier this week. He was fined £365 and given a court behaviour order—which he seems to have promptly breached, leading to him being rearrested after two days. He managed to squeeze in a chaotic interview with Piers Morgan along the way.
It’s not all as simple as it appears though. He told The Independent that the book he destroyed actually belonged to him, and that the old lady was “in on” the dog-stealing act. He says he returned to apologise to the family whose house he invaded, and that he regrets this prank.
Evidently though, many of his pranks aren’t staged, so the kid deserves what’s coming to him. But it’s clear there’s more than a touch of Trigger Happy TV or early Ali G about all this—albeit a kind of mutant descendant evidencing British decline since those shows first aired. For an 18 year old, Mizzy has clearly got some savvy in manufacturing outrage. He says this openly: it’s all about the engagement.
He grabbed more headlines by claiming racism lies behind the outrage: “I’m a Black male doing these things and that’s why there’s such an uproar on the internet.” Or, as Ali G would say: “Is it coz I is black?” It would not surprise me if Mizzy said that because he knows it will just add to the outrage—though perhaps I overestimate his intelligence.
The ratio of real to fake pranks is besides the point, however. Either way, Mizzy is a young man whose entire life has become a performance.
How does this happen?
Let’s ask it a different way: when did the performance start?
Or even another way: when does a child first realise that, at any moment, they could be being watched on social media?
53% of British children own a phone by the time they’re seven. 90% own one by the time they’re eleven. UK children aged 8-11 spend an average of 4.5 hours per day in front of a screen. For teenagers, it’s 6.5—mostly on social media, a realm of relentless performativity which by its very nature pushes insecure youths into presenting highly catered and carefully edited versions of themselves.
So perhaps the performance starts then—some time between the age of seven and ten. The black hole of the smartphone gapes open before them, and they are sucked down the rabbit warren of social media, dancing to the tunes of their peers.
But what if it starts even earlier?
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