Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

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


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!
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.
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.


fat pony like thunder
The Monkey Princess

Latest Month

July 2009


Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Cindy S.