Monday, October 8, 2007

More reasons to be depressed ...

Malcolm was about to suggest the most depressing aspect of the weekend was the non-election. Not because it didn't happen, but because of the reaction thereto. Then he came across something far worse...

The Fourth Estate has had an easy couple of weeks fanning the flames. All the "news" they could be bothered with was within drooling distance of their first-string of journos. Column inches -- nay, yards -- came cheap and ready to hand. Commentators didn't even need to get brains into second gear. Now they will have to work a bit harder for their thousands a week.

No, that wasn't it: Malcolm has gone on record several times to say it wouldn't happen. He preened with a smidgen of smugness when all was revealed. What grated was something both more trivial and more serious:
  • Mr Osborne accused the Prime Minister of lying when he claims to be entirely focused on running the country and says he will have “bottled” it if he doesn’t ... [The Times]
  • Why Brown bottled it: Six point Tory lead in the marginals ... [The Spectator]
  • "... if he [Brown] calls an election in October he will have given us more advanced warning than any recent opposition, and if he doesn't, he has completely bottled it." [Telegraph].
All of those originate from the fertile and inventive mind of one George Osborne, public schoolboy and Magdalen, Oxford, scholarship winner. No dimbo, he. Heir to a baronetcy, too. A bulwark of respectability. With the mouth of a street-corner yobbo at closing time.

Does this enlighten us about the nature of the Notting Hill boys? Indeed, more than they would wish. Is it of a kind with the recent publicity of their Black-and-White Ball? Does it raise the standard of political debate?


No, that's not Malcolm's main grief. He turns instead to the Sunday Times. News section:
  • Page 9: "the model Caprice", in backless dress with full cleavage;
  • Page 14: royal girlfriend in bikini, a leg-shot;
  • Page 15: illustrated item discussing a "breast re-augmentation"
Right, that sets the pace. Malcolm moves on to the News Review:
  • Page 2: head-to knee half-page illustration of "Carla Bruni, the model who had an affair with Mick Jagger" with low-cut neckline, and high-cut skirt.
  • Page 3: half-page colour illustration of lady losing her knickers while skirt is blown up, helpfully captioned "The sexual stereotypes typified by this picture are only reinforced by the plethora of books on the Mars and Venus theme."
  • Page 10: quarter-page photograph of lady in strapless gown, astide shoulders of male, lifting up her skirt beyond the thighs.
It's in the In Gear ["Cars: Gadgets: Adventure"] supplement, that is to say "toys-for-the-boys", supplement that the full horror is developed:
  • Page 3:"Cameron Diaz in the notorious hair gel scene from There's Something About Mary";
  • Page 10: Full page, hands-on-hips, of "the female Ironman world champion";
  • Page 16 and 17: "Swish those PC cobwebs away", illustrated, inevitably, by the ultimate cliché of the full-length , bending-over, saucy French maid.
And so on, ad nauseam and reductio ad absurdum.

All this, Malcolm recalls, is the "serious" end of the newspaper market, although it clearly is where the Sun's best get their overtime (Malcolm's schoolgirl daughter obtained work-experience at Wapping: she spent a day or two Photoshop-ing the glamour).

And let's not forget Billie Piper in her slinky scanties on many of the bus-shelters of Britain.

Malcolm is no prude: he does have a sense of propriety. The kind of material, sexist but barely [sic] salacious, assiduously peddled by the Sunday Times, is nothing more or less than Tom Lehrer's

Smut! (I love it)
Ah, the adventures of a slut,
Oh I'm a market they can't glut
I don't know what
Compares with smut.

And, Malcolm proposes, any product which needs cheesecake to sell it is typically in terminal decline.

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