Yesterday, my hero Stephen Fry posted a rebuttal of sorts to a Daily Mail article about his call for a change of venue to the Winter Olympics in light of recent changes to Russian law re. homosexuality (among other things). You can’t promote, defend, or even mention LGBTQ without fear of reprisal or arrest. People have been injured and jailed for participating in gay rights events in Russia. It’s despicable and very, very scary. And yet the Mail put Mr Fry’s opinions down to being an elitist atheist with an ego problem, saying that China’s human rights record is far worse, and that no one should care what he says anyway because he’s not really a national treasure anyway.
So, that’s nice.
I admit that I have a big Daily Mail problem. Though I do read a lot of online gossip (at which they excel), this started as an addiction to British weather headlines (when they start blaming ‘Siberian’ winds for temperatures of a couple of degrees below freezing, I howl with glee) – then I noticed their loathsome articles on celebrities (perceived) weight problems, (perceived) sex scandals, and the (constant) hypocrisy over calling out people on being too fat, or too thin, or looking ‘sad’ after a (possibly) made-up scandal, but publicised in the Mail, in their lives (this is known by some as ‘the sidebar of shame’). They (sometimes) remember to blur out the faces of celebrity children. But seemingly even more often, they think talking about a 14-year-old celebrity (or celebrity offspring) ‘blossoming’ while publishing paparrazzi photos of them in bathing suits is totally fine; this is especially fun when juxtaposed with hysterical articles about paedophilia or a teacher running off with a former student.
They are equally adept at scaremongering, promoting terrifying weight loss programs (LighterLife, the Dukan Diet), yet running articles on how dangerous those very programs are. Every single thing
in your house on Earth causes cancer; except tea, but only sometimes, because otherwise it will kill you. Oh, and red wine is either giving you liver cancer or saving you for a heart attack. I’m not sure which anymore.
And yet? I read. It’s utter shit and I read it anyway. Not all of it, just the worst of it. And never the slightly more news-y things that might have had a researcher involved. I lie to myself and say it’s because I’m amused by how loathsome it all is and how it’s a good counterpoint to the Toronto Star, the Guardian, or the New York Times, but in actuality, I love pointing and laughing. I am horrified and amused by the bottom half of the DM website, where Jennifer Garner is (daily) praised for being so ‘normal’ or hated for being in so many photo pieces in the paper. (Seriously, there are photos of her shopping, or picking up her girls from school, nearly every day. It’s unbelievable.) I love when a leftie pops through to call out an author on how shitty their article was or how poorly it was edited. It’s a cruel, moronic sideshow.
You might know most of the above already. Because y’know what? It’s the most widely read news site in the world. ‘News’. I/We’ve got to cut that out. Mr Fry has it right in other ways; we shouldn’t give anyone who writes for that rag the satisfaction of reading ANY of their ill-researched nonsense. Sure, they are probably getting, like, 1/4 penny from me per page view, but given my addiction, that’s probably adding up fucking quickly.
I don’t listen to everything Mr Fry says (Apple, Schmapple, but our platonic marriage could still TOTALLY WORK, Stephen), but he’s definitely right: It’s time to quit supporting this hideous excuse for a newspaper. All newspapers have their biases. And if you are aware of them, you can read around them. Bullshit, however, is bullshit. The state of journalism is already fairly fucked, and by boosting the popularity, and riches, of this rag, we are doing the world at large no favours.
Now to eat some leftover ratatouille and scrambled eggs and coffee, all of which might kill me. I read it in the Daily Mail.