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Feb. 15th, 2006

If, like me, you are fuming at the very existence of the Daily Oirish Mail, then this* should amuse you.

The DM is bad enough, but the fact that a paper which has devoted miles of column inches to appalling anti-Irish bigotry over the years has the sheer cheek to try and get money out of us for their repugnant rag is even worse. It's as bad as that telly ad for the Daily Express which features a just-married couple saying "we stand for traditional values" and a 2.4 kids perfect family declaring that they stand for "good clean fun" and other squeaky-clean people announcing all their allegiance to some sort of repugnant, sexless, witless, charmless middle England. They even have a token black bloke so they can say "look, we're not REALLY revoltingly racist! See, we allowed this coloured chap in our ad! And isn't he dignified, and doesn't he speak nicely?" Fuckers.

*From here

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
socmot
Feb. 16th, 2006 12:47 am (UTC)
Speaking of Wingnuts and the Mail...I hear Richard Wagnorne is writing for them!
stellanova
Feb. 16th, 2006 10:08 am (UTC)
I know! The mind reels.
biascut
Feb. 16th, 2006 02:23 am (UTC)
They even have a token black bloke so they can say "look, we're not REALLY revoltingly racist! See, we allowed this coloured chap in our ad! And isn't he dignified, and doesn't he speak nicely?" Fuckers.

Loath as I am to speak in favour of the Daily Mail, I don't actually think that's a fair characterisation. Plenty of black and Asian people are sufficiently well-integrated in Britain that it is entirely possible to buy into the Mail's brand of small-minded, anti-European, anti-gypsy/immigrant/asylum-seeker xenophobia without connecting it with wider racism against Commonwealth immigrants.

And on the one hand, I'm not happy to see anyone buying the Mail or espousing its politics, whatever colour they happen to be. On the other hand, though, it is a sign of the extent to which Commonwealth immigrants have integrated and become part of the mainstream that there are plenty of Asians in the Conservative Party and Afro-Caribbeans can be as xenophobic as anyone else. Being anti-racist isn't just for the leftwing any more, and I do think it's insulting to the black and Asian people who buy the Mail to suggest that the black guy in the adverts is only a "token". He's not: he's representative of a rather annoying but perfectly real demographic.
stellanova
Feb. 16th, 2006 10:03 am (UTC)
That ad is actually for the Express, but anyway, the Mail is the paper that marked that IVF mix-up in which a white couple got a black couple's embryo by printing a cartoon of a white woman coming home from the hospital holding a monkey. I do think it's an inherently rascist rag, not just because of its anti-recent-immigrant stuff. I know there are plenty of Afro-Caribbean people who buy it, but there are Irish people who bought the pre-Oirish Mail, and that doesn't stop it being filled with anti-Irish shit. If they had an ad with an Irish actor in it I'd find it tokenistic, even though I'd acknowledge that there are several thousand Irish people who suck that crap up. So I think that the slight nods to both non-white Britons and general Irish people are indeed tokenistic - the editorial policy relies to a great degree on racist hysteria of various kinds, and because the racism aimed at established non-white people is more subtle - I remember missbassey telling me about a piece they printed about some well-known Briton whose family were from Jamaica, that depicted family situations in that country in such an inaccurate and loaded way it basically gave the message that "these people are all savages" - doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. There are plenty of Tories from Indian backgrounds, but that doesn't stop the Mail going red in the face with rage when they hear some local council has celebrated Diwali - they may not have the balls to actually say "look at these heathens!", but they'll have crap about "sensible Asians don't want to force their exotic beliefs on us!"
lolamoz
Feb. 16th, 2006 11:23 am (UTC)
the Mail is the paper that marked that IVF mix-up in which a white couple got a black couple's embryo by printing a cartoon of a white woman coming home from the hospital holding a monkey.

Are you serious? I am totally amazed. Did they get in any sort of trouble for that?! Please say yes!
stellanova
Feb. 16th, 2006 11:36 am (UTC)
I think there were complaints and it was mentioned in other papers, but I don't know if they formally apologised or anything. I saw the cartoon when it appeared in the Mail - at my old job I used to read all the dreadful papers because we got them all every day - and I actually couldn't believe what I was seeing. Although I shouldn't be surprised, because their cartoons regularly depicted us savage Micks as looking more ape than human.
biascut
Feb. 16th, 2006 12:03 pm (UTC)
I'm not claiming that the Mail isn't racist, but that you're reading its racism wrong. It's incredibly careful never to step too far out of the mainstream, which is what makes it so pernicious, but it's incredibly good at identifying precisely what the mainstream thought on race is. And yes, to some extent the black man in the Express advert is tokenistic, but no more so than any of the other people featured in it, like mothers with babies or whatever. After all, nobody gets put into an advert by accident, whatever colour they are.

The message isn't "doesn't he speak nicely, isn't he dignified", though. That kind of Noble Savage stuff is my grandma's generation, and the Mail wouldn't be so popular if it marketed itself to people over ninety! But he's carefully coded as suburban rather than urban: the point is that he's cleaning his car on the driveway of a neat Dursleyesque house rather than listening to hiphop and wearing lots of gold chains, not that he's walking upright and speaking without a foreign accent. The Mail and the Express were also hugely important in publicising the Stephen Lawrence case, and again, it depended hugely on the perception of Stephen Lawrence as an "innocent" victim, a bright, studious, middle-class suburban lad rather than a kid from a council estate with a string of petty convictions, but even the fact that it was more about class than race was a huge victory for anti-racism.


that doesn't stop the Mail going red in the face with rage when they hear some local council has celebrated Diwali

Local councils celebrating Diwali or Chinese New Year when they've got a substantial Hindu or Chinese population is more or less a given. What the Mail gets in a rage over is the idea that Christmas is being suppressed in our schools whilst these festivals are celebrated. They'll always include something about how it's perfectly wonderful to see these festivals celebrated, but not at the expense of white people being able to celebrate their festivals. Subtly different, but different nonetheless.

I'm not claiming that there isn't a racist element, but I think you're missing some of the nuances, and it's really important to identify precisely how the redtops play on racist stereotypes without stepping outside of the mainstream rather than dismissing them as monolithically racist.
stellanova
Feb. 16th, 2006 12:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you're right, I'm oversimplifying to some extent. But I did acknowledge that their racism is often very subtle, and I think you might be giving the Mail too much credit - they employ Richard Littlejohn, after all, and he's written plenty of pieces that simply mock and rant at the very idea that even a city like Birmingham should publically celebrate "foreign" festivals - there is often an assumption in the Mail's writing that to do this at all is somehow to denigrate Christianity or "white British" culture. There is absolutely nothing subtle about Littlejohn at all, and there's a lot that's blatantly and unashamedly racist, in the "they're all very well but they're swamping us" way.

it depended hugely on the perception of Stephen Lawrence as an "innocent" victim, a bright, studious, middle-class suburban lad rather than a kid from a council estate with a string of petty convictions, but even the fact that it was more about class than race was a huge victory for anti-racism.

That's true, and I actually just remembered the Mail's role in the Stephen Lawrence case after I posted my last comment! But my point is really that in general they treat their non-white readers the way they're now treating their Irish readers - there's a lot of inherent contempt there, and although they'll reach out to the "nice" black people and the "nice" Irish, their editorial policy in other areas suggests that they believe those nice ones are the exceptions to the rule. But make some public displays of support - and fit some tokenistic figures into your ad campaign - and you can pretend you're really not racist, precisely because, as you say, anti-racism isn't the province of the liberal left anymore. Their racism has to be more subtle, as I said, but that doesn't mean it's not there. I mean, I read the Mail every day for five years, and just when I thought its racial politics couldn't get any more offensive, they'd do something like the monkey cartoon which would leave me open-mouthed with horror.

The message isn't "doesn't he speak nicely, isn't he dignified", though. That kind of Noble Savage stuff is my grandma's generation, and the Mail wouldn't be so popular if it marketed itself to people over ninety!

Oh yeah, I agree that the important thing is that he's suburban - I don't think that the alternative is him naked and carrying a spear. But I don't think the dignified and speaking "nicely" labels mean the noble savage, I think they're more likely to be patronising code for "ooh, look, he's not white but he's not a thug, how amazing!" How many times have you seen Morgan Freeman or Don Cheadle or hell, Nelson Mandela described by journalists as "dignified"? Just google and see! That word is always used by white journalists, evne supposedly liberal ones, to describe any black male public figure who isn't a hip hop artist. And the "speaking nicely" thing is incredibly common, too - the undertone is "he doesn't sound black, does he?" and it's all based on huge assumptions of race, class and accent. They were discussing this in that recent excellent Radio 4 programme on the black middle classes in Britain. Although of course, the ad didn't use those words anyway - I was just using them to illustrate what I believe is the Express's attitude, so I should probably shut up about it now!
biascut
Feb. 16th, 2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
Oh God yes, I agree that the Dignified thing is a huge trope in discussions of black public figures. I just don't think that's part of the message here. The Dignified thing is all about someone being a leader of some sort, exceptional and admirable, whereas I think in this advert it's just a "look, even a black guy can be an ordinary suburban bloke, just like you" thing. Unless I'm thinking of a totally different advert, but from what I remember, there wasn't any emphasis on dignity, just ordinariness.

Ha, I love the idea that you can emphasise ordinariness.

Richard Littlejohn's an interesting one - I mean, on the one hand, of course the Mail publishes him and he's one of their figurehead columnists. On the other hand, isn't the very nature of a columnist the fact that their views are at a slight distance from the paper's editorial policy? The Guardian, after all, isn't quite Polly Toynbee or Zoe Williams or Timothy Garton Ash: it's somewhere between the three. So by publishing Richard Littlejohn, the Mail gets the dual thing of the credit of publishing such admirably "outspoken" views in the teeth of the Guardian's disapproval, but doesn't actually have to own his politics.

And yes, I was oversimpliflying the acceptability of local councils celebrating non-Christian festivals. Complete non-issue in some parts of the country, hugely controversial in others. So again, a tricky line for the Mail because they have to attract readers from both.
clanwilliam
Feb. 16th, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC)
Actually, considering I know the journalist who covered the Lawrence case for the Mail, I should point out that apparently he was initially sent to the Lawrences' to do a hatchet job. It was allegedly only when the editor figured out that he knew Neville Lawrence that the Mail suddenly started campaigning. I believe was an article on it in the Guardian or Observer a few years ago when Hal left the Mail.
daegaer
Feb. 16th, 2006 09:04 am (UTC)
Someone I know (he who was Abandoned By His Family While He Was Walking His Dog, if I've ever told you that story) has taken to reading the Oirish Mail, and the dread words "there's a good bit of reading in it" were uttered. I'm astounded he reads it, given his total lack of any bigotry, and his innocent amazement that bigots can exist.
jane_the_23rd
Feb. 16th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
Hey hey! I found this great toy on that guy's blog: http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/toys/dailymail/


jane_the_23rd
Feb. 16th, 2006 09:47 pm (UTC)
So far, I like these ones:

"COULD CHERIE BLAIR GIVE YOUR MORTGAGE CANCER?"

"COULD SINGLE MOTHERS ROB THE COUNTRYSIDE BLIND?"

"WILL TEACHERS HURT BRITAIN'S SWANS?"

"DOES POLITICAL CORRECTNESS KILL THE ELDERLY?"

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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