Archive for tabloids

Sorry to disappoint…

Posted in Fury Home, People, The Modern World, The Written Word, Today's Society with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

One thing I love about WordPress as a blogging platform is the cornucopia of stats that it dishes out.  For instance, I can see who has linked to the blog, which posts are the most popular, and get a graph of the days when the most traffic has come through the site.  As a stats nerd and a self-obsessed feedback whore, this is the stuff my dreams are made of.

A particularly interesting stat is which search terms have brought people here through Google and other search engines.  A stat like this can be very important when looking to increase hits, letting me know what people who visit the blog most want to see.  My pet subjects, as regular readers will know (and hi to both of you, by the way), include the BNP and tabloid dishonesty, so one would expect to see them feature heavily in any breakdown of search terms.  So let’s now have a look at the list since this blog was created:

So, thanks in large part to this post I have had 144 visits from what I have to assume are mostly 18-30 -year old men with erect penises in their hands.  Especially when one takes into account that I have had a further ten searches for either “Lynsey Dawn McKenzie fucking” or “Lynsey Dawn McKenzie fucked”, with seven looking for Jodie Marsh in a similar role.  The truly amusing aspect of this is that I have mentioned Lynsey Dawn McKenzie a grand total of twice, the context for said mentions being as follows:

“you hire forty security guards to patrol your Big TV Wedding when the only celebs there are Syd Little and Lynsey Dawn McKenzie. For fuck’s sake, my postman is more famous than Lynsey Dawn McKenzie.”

Which incidentally is still true, although I grant you that my postman has not shown up in my Google referrals.  Not as yet anyway.

I can only speculate as to how many cocks have de-tumesced as a result of being greeted not by some photos of a vaguely well-known porn actress being plunged by some chav, but by a stream of angry rhetoric.  Perhaps in some bizarre Pavlovian accident there are now a number of guys in Burberry caps who can only maintain wood if someone stands over them calling Richard Barnbrook a cunt.  It is to they that I wish to apologise.  But seriously, Lynsey Dawn McKenzie?  I wouldn’t touch her with someone else’s ten foot barge pole.  For a bet.

So, never let it be said that I am happy to accept undeserved credit.  I will have to be more careful what I post about in my blogs from now on, and can promise that there will be absolutely no mention of XXX hot teen action cumshot Jenna Jameson anal masturbation naughty nurse schoolgirl three cocks all at once blow job and twice up the arse 2girls1cup rimming hot asian spunktrumpet on a thursday.  And I’m a man who keeps a promise.

Labia.

Criminals: “We hate a different kind of criminal!”

Posted in fuckwits, Fury Home, Media, The Modern World, The Written Word with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

After a long spell away, I’ve decided to cover a topic which may not be furiously relevant or all over the tabloids, but one which has exercised my spleen for many a year, and which I never cease to find fascinating. It’s an issue that the press rarely seem to pick up on, even though it is they that give it the most coverage. I’m referring to the issue of prisoners appointing themselves as moral arbiters, particularly with reference to cases where children are involved.

The abduction, murder or abuse of children is vile, and it’s not exactly rocking the boat to point that out. We are all aware of it, and there are few people clamouring for the release of offenders such as Ian Huntley or Roy Whiting. But not a single case involving a child seems to pass without the press informing us that the prisoners incarcerated alongside the suspect are taking a personal interest. In a recent example Karen Matthews, the mother of the abducted child Shannon Matthews and herself accused of child neglect and perverting the course of justice, was placed on suicide watch following threats from fellow prisoners. This is very far from an isolated example, and it begs a vital question: Are these people the least self-aware morons on the planet, or what?

In the course of the papers’ coverage of the death threats and bullying of prisoners such as Karen Matthews, it is difficult to find among the often quasi-approving text any detail of what those doing the bullying were convicted of themselves, but I’m willing to bet that at best a minority are in for shoplifting or public nudity. In general, we’re talking GBH convicts, armed robbers and, without question, murderers. So what has brought about the conversion that miraculously changes them into saints where a high-profile case involving children is concerned? Everyone has the right to an opinion, of course, and it’s one of a few rights that is (and should remain) unaffected by a criminal conviction. But would these people’s rushes to moral judgement not, perhaps, have been better employed before they smashed a glass in someone’s face or stabbed a complete stranger?

There’s an old joke, the telling of which I will make a complete mess of now, for your delectation.

A man driving down the road is arrested by police who suspect that the vehicle he is driving has been stolen. He is charged with the offence and is told he can face trial by jury or by magistrates. He asks for clarification of the difference between the two. “Well,” he is told, “the magistrates are court-appointed legal experts who will listen to the evidence and judge your case on its merits. A jury would consist of twelve of your peers who will do the same”. “Peers?” says the man, “what does that mean?” “Well, twelve ordinary people, just like you.” replies his counsel.

“In that case,” says the man, “I think I’ll take my chances with the magistrates. I’m fucked if I want to be judged by twelve car thieves!”

Not, I will grant you, very funny. But it raises a point which I can’t help thinking is often ignored – that the very worst people to judge a moral quandary are those who have been proven morally suspect. Most people in jail, whatever you may think about the vagaries of the legal system, are there for a reason. They’re not nice people, and their morals are not what you might call … how to put this … remotely intact. So instead of yelling death threats after lights out or planning to smuggle a Stanley knife into the shower block, could they not just try and sort out the motes in their own eyes first? Put some thought into why they are behind bars, maybe consider some remorse for their victims, look at changing their ways?

The “justification” that is often given (and swallowed by many who should know better) is that people who harm children – or allow them to come to harm – are in a special class all by themselves. The scum of the earth. As though there is some kind of league table. Now, I’m not saying that my own moral judgement is without its flaws, but if your one claim to the moral high ground is that the person whose life you took, whose body or safety you violated was born before Bros released their debut single “I Owe You Nothing”, then you’re desperately ill-equipped to judge anyone. More fool anyone for trumpeting your entitlement to do so – you may be a different sort of bastard, but you’re still a bastard.

The legal system will have its say on Karen Matthews, as it has and will do in the future with other suspects. And it is far, far better equipped so to do than a bunch of criminals.

Tabloids handling Madeleine investigation with usual reasoned detachment.

Posted in Children, Fury Home, Media, The Written Word with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

Another day, another stunningly tangential “lead” in the Madeleine McCann case. Now we hear that a British couple saw a 2×3″ “bundle” being carried out to sea by a man on a jetski, who then apparently deposited it on an “official-looking” boat – just nine hours after Madeleine apparently went missing. After reporting said sighting to the staff at the Ocean Club – with all the investigative powers that a hotel has at its disposal – the couple’s family then did what anyone would do and kept quiet for ten months before going to the tabloids about it. Armed with such a cast-iron lead, the PJ shamefully did absolutely nothing about it – yet more proof that the Portuguese police are a bunch of slackers.

Between them, the Sun and the Mail don’t seem sure when this sighting actually took place, and have differing information on the couple who witnessed this highly suspicious activity, but both are certain, without speaking to the PJ, that the lead was not followed up. The Sun in particular state in their headline that it was a “Maddie Bundle” on the jetski, which shows a remarkable level of certainty on the matter. Indeed, with all the evidence-gathering Team Wade has carried out, one is now forced to wonder whether it woudn’t be an idea to hand the entire investigation over to them. This latest development comes, after all, hot on the heels of a Portuguese taxi driver coming forward with the information that he ferried Madeleine, Robert Murat and three other adults, one who looked a bit like Kate McCann, to a nearby hotel.

Amid all the mud that has been fired at the PJ by these same papers, there is a nigh-on comical lack of objectivity, particularly from the Sun. In the “taxi driver” story, they wait for four paragraphs to state that at the time of the journey, Madeleine was not yet missing. Well worth splashing a headline that states (quotation marks mine) “Maddie and Murat were in my taxi”, then. A completely uncritical report of a parish councillor’s supposed sighting, which unaccountably fails to pose the questions of why the “Portuguese couple” were out in broad daylight with Europe’s most recognisable toddler, why the man didn’t go straight to the police, and why a Portuguese couple would bring to England a toddler that the entire British tabloid media have barely moved from their front pages since last spring. Not to mention the Dutch student who reports that “Maddie” looked startled when addressed by her name in a French service station (top tip: address any stranger you see as “Maddie”, or indeed any name, and see them be startled).

The old defence of “public interest” – as in “if the public are interested, it’s in the public interest”, is generally spouted by tabloid editors when asked why they jump all over sensitive stories. If some of them actually stopped to think that sometimes investigations will be negatively affected by their idiotic speculation, would it actually make a difference to the tone and detail of their reports? Of course it wouldn’t, but they will continue to launch brickbats at the PJ without bothering to look any deeper than the surface of the increasingly fatuous “sightings” that they stick on their front pages. Madeleine McCann deserves better than to be the new Elvis, with each new sighting more ridiculous than the last. When these “Exclusives” are taken in hand with the hectoring taking place over a potential “Sarah’s Law”, – taken to new lows here:
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– it’s hard not to conclude that the Sun’s main motivation in these stories has less to do with finding missing children and ensuring the same thing happens again, and more to do with flogging more copies of their vile rag. As Shannon Matthews’ own mother has said, the suspicion in this case is within her circle of friends and family, and thus “Sarah’s Law” would be of no help here. But that’s the Sun for you – if they can crowbar in their pet project, they will do – and relevance be damned.

Jon Gaunt on capital punishment: “Waaaaaaaay-hey!”

Posted in fuckwits, Fury Home, Media, Politics, The Modern World with tags , , , , , , , on February 29, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

Jon Gaunt is mean and tough. He’s not a namby-pamby, and don’t you dare say otherwise. Jon Gaunt’s not into the idea of his taxes being used to keep mass murderers in Playstations and swan korma, and he’ll not thank you for implying that he is. It may be controversial, but Jon Gaunt is anti-murder, and he doesn’t care who knows it.  Jon Gaunt’s not one of those liberal sandal-hugging yoghurt-weavers  who won’t be happy until there’s a one-legged lesbian black heroin addict in Number 10.  When John Gaunt does a push up, he’s not pushing himself up, he’s pushing the earth down.

Actually, that last one’s Chuck Norris, but the rest is spot-on.  Today, Gaunt has regaled us with his views on capital punishment – again.  Having been one of two Sun writers to work himself up into a nigh-on orgasmic euphoria over the idea of its return just a few days ago, Gaunt’s own column today was devoted to his fantasies over what would be a suitable punishment for multiple murderer Levi Bellfield.  Despite the evidence, Gaunt still feels that the death penalty is a suitable deterrent to murderers, and throws up his arms in despair at the luxury in which Bellfield will spend the rest of his life.  A luxury that, I grant, would be entirely unmerited, which makes it a relief that it is also complete fiction.

In support of his argument, Gaunt puts forth the result of the in-no-way biased Sun poll that saw a startling 99% in favour of the death penalty.  A cynical person might suggest that the kind of person who votes in these polls is exactly the type of person who gets all their opinions from … well, Jon Gaunt.  Furthermore, at the time of writing, there has not been a law passed to give legislative powers to Sun pollsters, unless I’ve been in a very clean and very subtle coma.  Nonetheless, Gaunt tells it like it is:  “The politicians must listen”.  Gaunt calls for a free vote on the issue.  Gaunt forgets that as a representative democracy, the UK public votes for a government to enact legislation, and that deciding everything by referendum would slow things down to the point where Commons motions would eventually be passed thirty years after the issue was first raised.

The politicians DO listen, Jon, and a number of Westminster MPs agree with you on the death penalty.  However, a government was elected that opposes its return, so tough titty.  The families of the murder victims are justifiably angry and want revenge for their lost ones – as I imagine I might in such a situation.  The government, however, cannot allow emotion to dictate penalty where lives are at stake.  An awful lot depends on the government’s handling of issues, and any decent government cannot afford to be cheaply populist.  That is a privilege afforded to columnists like Gaunt – and bloggers, too – so for him to refer to MPs as “self-serving jokes” is like James Blunt criticising Frank Sinatra for his lack of  talent, and would be stupefyingly hypocritical if we expected any better from idiotic right-wing shock-jocks like him.

Tabloid legislation – why do we bother having a government?

Posted in Fury Home, Politics, The Modern World, The Written Word with tags , , , , , , , on February 25, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

So, it appears that 99% of some nebulous “YOU” favour a return to the death penalty. This according to the front page of the Sun anyway, which fails to make it clear what exactly this 99% pertains to. 99% of everyone? 99% of Sun readers? 99% of people called Gary? Actually, as it turns out, it’s 99% of the 95,000 respondents to a special “You The Jury” poll – therefore roughly 85,500 people. If by law the paper were forced to edit the headline to “85,500 people want the death penalty back” the impact might be lessened somewhat, particularly once it turned out that these were 85,500 people who view voting in a newspaper’s poll as a reasonable way of registering their point of view. Granted, all of that may be tricky to fit in a headline, but they can do wonderful things with computers nowadays.

From judicious further reading it turns out that the Sun’s leader column and all but two of the writers questioned (those two being, perhaps unsurprisingly, the shock-jocks Jon Gaunt and Fergus Shanahan) come out against a return to the death penalty, but nothing makes the same impact as a booming headline and a picture of a gallows. As though, even if the death penalty were brought back in the UK, the chosen method would be hanging…

But then, my point here isn’t actually the validity of the hypothetical (and so it will remain) return of the death penalty. The arguments for and against are all so well-known by now. Suffice it to say that I am anti, and have yet to hear an argument that convinces me to change my mind – the same goes, I dare say, for those in favour, whose points are often quite reasonable. No, my point is to do with the scourge of tabloid legislation. Already we have the shadow Home Secretary backing calls for a return to executions, and Ann Widdecombe agrees. The Sun wants to usher in a “debate” on the issue, despite the fact that all the arguments for and against have been made, and anyone would think that they just wanted to horn in on the recent high-profile convictions handed down to Steve Wright and Mark Dixie to sell some extra copies.

The families of Wright’s and Dixie’s victims have in some cases made it known that they would support legislation to see the killers put to death, and one can only sympathise – it’s impossible for me to put myself in their place, as I am fortunate enough to have never lost a loved one in such a way. But without seeking to sound callous, it is not for the victim’s family to say how the perpetrator should be punished. Nor is it a matter for tabloid-based polls. We live in a representative democracy, and we elect a government every five or so years to legislate for us. Given their accountability to the electors it is their place to decide on such issues, and given that the present government – avowedly anti-death penalty for their many other faults – is currently on its third term, we should consider the decision made. On the Internet, in pubs, in everyday life the debate already exists, and to elevate it above this runs the risk of turning a serious, potent issue into a political football.

Another case of tabloid legislation arises with the continuing argument over “Sarah’s Law”. From the inception of this movement, driven by the News of the World under the tenure of Rebekah Wade, envious eyes have been cast across the Atlantic at the supposedly revolutionary “Megan’s Law”. Why, demanded the press commentators, don’t we have an equivalent law here? The swift response – “because it hasn’t worked there” – was broadly ignored amid all the placard-waving. Also ignored was the huge pile of arguments against it happening – that the vast majority of child sex abuse victims know their attackers already, that it had led to vigilantism in the US (as the NotW’s naming-and-shaming campaign did here), and that it led to a steep drop in compliance with the sex-offenders’ register, causing paedophiles to go untracked.

A very watered-down version of the law is now to be piloted in the UK, though the concerns about vigilantism and compliance are not adequately addressed, but already it’s not enough for some people.  Expressing opposition to a so-called “Sarah’s Law” can lead to great hostility, not least because the press have succeeded in making the name stick.  If you are against “Sarah’s Law”, it logically follows that you don’t share the widespread revulsion at what happened to Sarah Payne.  In terms of loaded terminology, it’s right up there with the neocons in the US naming some extremely draconian legislation “the Patriot Act” – thus making a “traitor” out of everyone who opposed it.

See, in the end, for all of the faults of our lawmakers, they at least carry out studies before acting.  If the Sun had to think before wading in on a major issue, they’d only put a paper out twice a month.

Tired “rehab” puns may force Amy back to crack.

Posted in Music, People, The Written Word with tags , , , on February 13, 2008 by bootlegmarkchapman

Look at this. And this. How about this? This? And another….

Just a few headlines for stories about Amy Winehouse’s latest effort to get clean from the hard drugs that have turned her from voluptuous jazz-tinged sex bomb to emaciated bra-clad scarecrow. Now, before I deal at greater length with the content of stories that we know only too well, I first wish to have a word about the headlines. Perhaps she was asking for it by writing the line that spawned a million plays on words (or, more accurately, about three different plays on words repeated again and again and again, until I found myself quite keen to smoke a whole bunch of crack just to escape the pain). But shitting hell, surely it’s time for an Amy Winehouse Rehab Pun Headline Amnesty. Given the fact that her latest album has a title containing two words that rhyme with slang terms for drugs to which she has proved partial, why not push the envelope?

“Amy goes Back to Crack”, “Crack to Smack for Troubled Amy”, ” ‘You Know She’s No Good’ : Blake Warned By Worried Parents”, “FUCK ME! Amy Pumps Dose of Killer Drug”, “Pete Advises Sad Chum Amy ‘You Should Be Stronger Than Me’ ” “Back to Brown”. Perhaps they could even advise her to talk to Frank. Anything, just for a bit of variety. It’s not as if anyone’s having to work very hard to find new photos, or “concerned friends” willing to speak to the press. The stories pretty much write themselves, with the aid of a thesaurus which handily falls open at the pages for “sad”, “thin” and “singer”. Affect a tone of pained, paternal concern, break out the Big Book of Drug Cliches, insert a picture of Blake Fielder-Civil looking like a prick in a hat and Bob’s your shady drug buddy.

The tone of concern is another predictable and generally fraudulent element to these stories. Barely able to go more than a few sentences without a doe-eyed exhortation for Amy to stop throwing her talent away, The Sun is the chief offender in this respect. While their biggest worry plays in the background (“For how long exactly can we have stories about poor, troubled junkie Amy before she either dies, or worse, gets clean once and for all?”), Wapping’s finest take an editorial line based on the not entirely convincing premise that they really just want her to get better. They could at least show some gratitude to Winehouse for giving them a bit of a change-up from stories about “Junkie Waster Pete”. They even get to change the personal pronoun in their copy-and-paste op-ed pieces. On a side issue, why is it “Junkie Waster Pete”, but “Troubled Chanteuse Amy”? How long has she got left on the goodwill list before the stories start containing thinly veiled wishes for her death?

“Come on, you old cynic”, I hear you cry (“you” being in this case an imaginary crowd that I have made up for the purpose of advancing my article), “These journos are just ordinary people, they may have friends who have been through the trials and tribulations of addiction! It’s not fair to launch a scathing attack leavened with very nearly amusing asides! Play fair!”.

And perhaps, in different circumstances, I would concede that Imaginary You had a point. But when the latest “Shock Video” of Amy on the internet comes complete with a big ol’ banner “The Sun” logo in the bottom corner, swallowing any protestation of good-heartedness becomes harder than listening to an entire Maroon 5 album without slaughtering the next four people you clap eyes on. Virtually impossible, in other words.

Perhaps, though, the final words should be left to “a friend of the waif-like chart-topper”, quoted in the good ol’ Currant Bun: “Her family and her few real friends have begged her to pull herself from the brink many times. But here is proof she has pressed the self-destruct button … Her fans would scarcely recognise the drug-addled wreck in the video as the talented performer they love”. The friend remains anonymous, which is rather a shame – not many people have learned to speak English by reading cliche-ridden newspaper articles, and it would be nice to put a name and a face to that phenomenon. Either that or the quote is entirely invented, but surely that’s not possible?