Sympathy for the Dickheads

My own opinion of the Daily Mail changes so often that I barely pay any attention to the mood swings any more. I’ve moved from hatred, to fear, to amusement, to admiration and back again so many times that I’ve accepted it as a hazard of the job. Today, though, I experienced a new one – pity.

Maybe it was the hot day, maybe it was the enveloping tiredness, maybe I was stoned (just threw that one in for Peter Hitchens – it’ll make the criticisms of me easier for him) but today I somehow looked at the website with eyes anew, and kind of saw it for the pathetic dad-dancer of a publication that is.

A cursory glance of the front page reveals a story about a man who collects irons, three separate stories about three separate members of the Saturdays shooting the same music video, two articles on Jeremy Kyle being on holiday, several pieces describing what’s been happening on reality TV shows, a half dozen notable rapes and murders in exotic locations, the heroic story of a lady who campaigned to have a lamppost removed from outside her house, countless descriptions of celebrity tweets or Instagrams, God knows how many conflicting predictions of extreme weather and a weird preoccupation with someone called Farrah Abraham who appears to just run around in a bikini with her daughter after having filmed a porno.

I’m not going to deny that they don’t sometimes write important stories, and they do indeed cover most newsworthy events in one shape or the other, but it all seems so secondary to this churning cycle of bullshit – unimportant, recycled, painfully reaching tat – that it smothers any good work they actually do.

It occurred to me just how sad the whole publication is; how it must be awful writing for them when 75% of the content is pulled from Reddit, or Twitter, or is just finding ways to describe tabloid long lens intrusions into Jennifer Garner’s children, or watching Big Brother just so you can repeat what happened, or rewriting stories that we found in other newspapers. I’ve lost count of how many articles include the sentence “in an article with the Sun…” or “…as the Guardian has claimed.” It’s not Fleet Street, it’s not hotfooting it around town looking for the hot scoop – it’s reading Reddit and following Ashton Kutcher on Twitter.

Two quotes I’ve heard recently which pretty much sum up their whole ethos:

Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times in 2011

It has no sense of remorse or humility. It’s fuelled by hatred. It hates people who are successful. It hates people who are not.

It hates people who are fat just as much as it hates people who are thin. It hates everybody. But for some reason it seems especially to hate me…

And Amanda Palmer on Newsnight this week

Obviously the Daily Mail is not going to care one way or another if I’m the kind of performance artist or musician that gets naked. They just know they’ve caught a photograph of a woman with her breast slightly exposed and actually the context is irrelevant  Whether they knew that I was the sort of performance artist that gets naked at other times doesn’t matter to them because they know it doesn’t really matter to their readers.

I’m assuming you’ve all seen her Daily Mail song, right? 

The same sad tiredness is also showing in their columnists work. In the same way in which the news content is driven by a need to write something – anything – to keep the cycle going, the opinion pieces echo the desperation for content that is provoking and plentiful, but with virtually no thought behind them.

This week has yielded the most magnificently awful column I’ve read in nearly three years of running this account. Dominic Sandbrook’s Buck House sold to Qatar. The King lives in a small flat. The only people who marry are gay is a beautiful failure of satire at its most basic level – a kind of apocalyptic re-imagining of Richard Littlejohn’s To Hell in a Handcart but written by a rightwing evangelical who’s taken 2 grams of mescaline and has an hard-on that just won’t go away.

It charts a future vision of a Britain ruled by our new baby king, in which the internet porn addled minds of a drugged population wallow in the fiery depths of gay marriage and EU dictatorships where poverty and foreigners benefits are our only business. I’ve paused at that point to take a breath, Sandbrook doesn’t. It’s meant to be satire, it’s meant to be funny but it is neither. There’s a simple reason for this, it’s that RIGHTWING HUMOUR IS NEVER FUNNY.

I have a friend who used to work in the Sky News newsroom. He always flatly refuted any theories about a Murdoch controlled newsopoly because the newsroom was run in such a state of chaos and disarray that the idea they could even produce a workable production schedule was laughable.

I’m beginning to feel that way about the Daily Mail. They’re just teenagers in the corner giggling at boobs, but everyone’s paying attention to them because they’re the loudest.

To end on, here’s a picture of Amanda Palmer’s boob so that this blog will be banned by the porn filter.

6 thoughts on “Sympathy for the Dickheads

  1. I dunno, I come here for a relatively famous pop star’s boobs, and all I get is a well reasoned and thoughtful article. It’s not like when Diana was alive!

  2. When I got doorstepped by the Daily Mail in the depth of winter I thought it pitiful that some man who hangs around in back streets for a living felt able to pass judgement on my life (or, given that it was case of mistaken identity, & he got some pretty basic facts wrong, not my life!)

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