Sometimes the worst things in life are free

Tabloid newspapers

There are some things I like getting for free. Three for the price of two on shower gel, snifters of alcohol from supermarket promotions, good pieces of advice. Then there are the things that I don’t like getting for free: The Sun, for example. I thought I’d escaped being one of the ‘lucky’ 22 million households to receive a special ‘historic’ edition of said newspaper. But there it was sitting on my door mat. The slug trail it had left on the door and across the mat as it slipped in was invisible but still very much there.

‘This is Our England’. I bloody well hope not. First of all I object to being lumped into being part of ‘our’ anything if it involves a tabloid newspaper. Please don’t co-opt me into something without my permission. Second, if this is our England than I’m booking a passage elsewhere. I get the intention but I really don’t like the mindset behind it.

Rather than sprinting straight for the recycling bin, I decided to have a read. Perhaps, like the people asked on pages 2 and 3 ‘which characteristic best reflects Englishness?’, I respect fair play (47%) and am tolerant towards others (36%). Yes, I was surprised these attributes featured in the top 3 too – maybe I’ve got The Sun wrong all these years …

REWIND …

Maybe I haven’t got The Sun wrong all these years. I got no further than Page 3 (thankfully tit-free – naked ones at least) before my hackles were raised. Oh dear, dear, Desmond Morris, serious anthropologist – what were you thinking when you wrote your piece on Kelly Brook, “our favourite English rose”? A “contradictory combination” of English Rose and “Britain’s Sexiest Woman”, a combination “devastating when seen by a virile young male”. Oh please. Let’s hope Desmond never starts a career writing erotica as this first attempt is pretty dreadful. He’s wonderfully brilliant at putting Kelly on a pedestal but simultaneously manages to lay her out like a slab of meat. It’s a depressing study in objectification. At least they kept her boobs covered. Small things. (Well, usually large things when it’s The Sun …)

The Sun

If you’re a woman reading this, would you like to feel a little bit more alienated? Yes? Oh go on then, here’s a treat for you, especially if you consider yourself to be a ‘real’ fan of football:

The Sun

The offside rule is, for most people, hard to understand. If you are a woman it is especially hard to fathom. Thank goodness for The Sun trying to explain it to you here – if only you could drag yourself away from ogling Ronaldo’s legs and focus on the more cerebral topic at hand. Oh heck, don’t bother. You’re just a woman.

Before I’m accused of getting my large, padlocked Victorian knickers in a twist, there is one thing I admire about The Sun – the journalists. Their ability to write perfectly for the tabloid genre is mightily impressive. It can’t be easy but, if you approach it unashamedly, it’s probably quite fun. Journalism jobs with the national papers are incredibly hard to come by. Which young hack desperate for break would turn down a job at The Sun even if it meant producing content that goes against what they believe in? These are clever folk creating a clever product – it knows what it’s doing and who it is doing it for.

Perhaps I’m taking it all a little bit too seriously. If we could be sure that everyone who reads The Sun appreciates tongue-in-cheek then it would be more bearable. The sad fact is that there will be a large number of people who take the newspaper as gospel and accept it as a fair depiction of how attitudes towards women should be. ‘This is Our England’ – I sincerely hope it isn’t. Now for that visit to the recycling bin.

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