We are all the Daily Mail

Oct 16th, 2013 | By | Category: Uncategorized

It took the unfair discrediting of a dead Marxist to finally show people of Britain that the Daily Mail newspaper’s harmful and ill-conceived journalism covered up a deep loathing of the nation it claims to characterize. The article in question was a profile of Ralph Miliband, a Polish refugee to Britain, and a man who served Britain during the Second World War, and went on to become a highly distinguished  professor of political theory, author of numerous Marxist texts, and father of current Labour Party leader Edward Miliband. The article content ran under the headline ‘The Man who Hated Britain’ – its only source of that particular information being a journal entry, written at the age of seventeen, describing the Englishman as “...a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world . . . you sometimes want them almost to lose (the war) to show them how things are. They have the greatest contempt for the Continent . . . To lose their empire would be the worst possible humiliation”. Although it could be argued that there is a somewhat venomous tone to Miliband’s statement, the reality is that Miliband’s refugee perspective sheds a shameful light on the suspicions and fears of the English when foreigners are within their midst. The Daily Mail has peddled this suspicion for decades, and shown contempt for demographics it views as corroding the vision of decorum it holds so dear, a vision that is steeped in imperialism and upper-class virtues. In modern times the Daily Mail has declared war on the citizenship of the UK, they have consistently targeted the working classes, single mothers, the unemployed, benefit claimers, the homeless, travellers, unionists, students, feminists, muslins, leftist politicians, immigrants (legal or illegal), the list continues into the most obscure sub-categories of the above. But what the Daily Mail has done, alongside many other media forms, is caused the working class demographic to turn on itself, to construct a culture of mistrust that no matter how low on the social ladder you happen to be, there is always a demographic to despise.

In many ways the Daily Mail is the newspaper that the culture of the United Kingdom has shaped.  Our consumer-based society has bred a deeply ingrained sense of entitlement and competiveness, an ugly cancer from within. This competitiveness has outgrown the seemly innocent ‘look at my brand new car’ pettiness of neighbourly squabbles that seemed persistent in the 1980’s. We have now shifted to wanting our meagre/immense talents to be recognised by people who see us as inferior and as short-term moneymakers to be prostituted to the masses, then dropped at the first sign of waning interest. Television shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent predominantly carry working-class people to the foreground (the first series winner Steve Brookstein and the series nine winner James Arthur both came from working class backgrounds). The series format sees the main contestants go toe to toe against each other. Their back story is depicted as arduous and demeaning, the slow motion editing and poignant music that accompany scenes from their journey only intensifies the drama of their lives.  The chance to escape their current situation is presented as something positive, a way out of this shameful existence. During the primary stages of the competition, contestants are ridiculed and humiliated in front of a live audience of thousands and a television audience of millions. In the later stages, even the most talented are still dangled in front of the nation, who hold the power to permit or destroy their dreams in a single text vote.  It doesn’t end with talent shows like The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, reality shows, starting with Big Brother and moving towards shows such as The Only Way is Essex, Geordie Shore and The Valleys portray young working class individuals in constant rivalry with each other. They strive to maintain the most outwardly affluent status, whilst continually backstabbing and mudslinging each other in the name of ambition. Tabloid talk shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show model themselves on controversial spectacles like The Jerry Springer Show, and endeavour to provide the most confrontational situations for viewing pleasure. Often it involves a DNA test for an unknown father of a child, fanning the flames of those who would believe that woman of the underclass are slappers, scrounging for more benefits. It pits working class against working class, bringing out the most hostile characteristics in each, before eventually offering the counselling and advice programs they so desperately need, but not before the public spectacle has made it seem worthwhile for the viewing public. These television shows expose a so-called Chav culture, a tabloid wet dream of an underclass who are nasty, uneducated and dangerous.

The Daily Mail relies heavily on the knowledge that the country is a deeply divided nation, yet it wishes to divide us even further.  It’s no longer good enough to be from the upper, middle, or working classes, there has to be more separation in order for us to despise people even from our own stock. The Daily Mail website has cleverly snared a working class audience with features such as ‘FEMAIL TODAY’, commonly known as the ‘Sidebar of Shame’ a vulgar and grossly demeaning reportage of exposed female flash, supposedly fat celebrities, and inane titbits of story that bring to mind scandalous feature stories from Heat magazine, the News of the World or the Daily Star. By sensationalizing, ultimately, non-sensational celebrity gossip the website has pulled in an audience unfamiliar with the papers vitriolic tone.  The Daily Mail wishes even the most working class reader, to believe that a neighbour is a dole scrounger, a layabout with too many kids scattered around the estate; to accuse a young mother of being a slapper, whose desire to get pregnant and have more children is a simply a pretext to receive more benefits from the state. It wants to ignite hatred towards a Somali family who moves in across the street, to spark fury at the construction of a mosque. It wants its middle class readership to loathe, yet also fear, the working and under classes, because it wants increasing friction and mistrust between them. It wants you to suspect left-leaning academics and politicians because their beliefs in a unified and equal citizenry means acceptance of a democratic, multi-cultural, multi-faith country, in which the embers of empire have long burnt out, and where once our humiliation at losing empire has turned to humility and dignity.

 

Stephen Lee Naish is the author of U.ESS.AY: Politics and Humanity in American Film, which will be published by Zer0 in January 2014. Follow him on Twitter: @steleenaish.

 U.ESS.AY cover

 

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