Tag Archives: Gypsies

Know your enemy – Part 4 surely the end

Gah

Gah Gah Gah GAH.

Over a month. Over one fucking month. That’s how long it’s taking me to read one single copy of the Daily Mail.

Why? I mean the DM has been in the press for all sorts of titillating trolling reasons lately. First of all there was that whole Samantha Brick episode. You know the one? The one where the Daily Mail ran a piece by a women who moaned about how good-looking she woz when she wasn’t all that good-looking and the internet replied by saying she wasn’t that good-looking and she replied saying yes she was don’t be jealous and then she became all famous an’ stuff an’ she went on the telly an’ all the telly people laffed at her, an’ everyone felt a bit awkward cos’ it looked a bit like she wos bein’ used by the Daily Mail as a hate figure to send people like me to look at their website… so then the hole media got divided an’ Charlie Brooker got some sex toys out to make a laff on the telly an’ I made a laff at the telly an’ then Samantha Brick disappeared an’ mummy read me a story. It was the Hobbit. I like theHobbit.

SHE'S UGLY! No she's beautiful... NO she's irrelevant. Now go back to fucking sleep!

Yeah. Samantha Brick. Internet superstar. Someone no-one had ever heard of before was catapulted into every press orifice that she could be crammed into in the name of shameless self publicity. Hers and the Daily Mail’s. Good? Bad? Who cares! If it drives people to your website it wins. And the Daily Mail got that in spades didn’t they. They milked the whole affair dryer than a cow in a desert and bled Brick to death in the process.  Six stories later (that’s right the DM online dragged 6 stories out of her) I’d be surprised if she had anything left of her legendary beauty now. She’s probably just a flap of skin lying on a typewriter. Each new chapter in the saga brought in hundreds of thousands of unique page views, thousands of comments and left a bad taste in the mouths of millions.

But Brick’s not the only thing the Daily Mail’s been throwing out is she? I mean take this headline that I stumbled on a few days ago.

OMG the DM just made me LMFAO

It’s like the Daily Mail mother lode. There are internet Daily Mail headline generators that could not do justice to this. There’s no point in the Daily Mail even continuing as an entity now. They’ve done it. They’ve achieved their image of perfection. They’ve managed to get thieving Gypsies living in palaces into a stopry. Actually – the Daily Mail did even better than this. Because when it first came out I took a screenshot. It seems they’ve even had to tone down the headline.

THAT’S RIGHT – THE ABOVE IS TONED DOWN VERSION OF WHAT THEY REALLY WANTED TO SAY which was.

OMG I can't LOL at this because erm... it's actually really rather unpleasant.

With all this excitement spewing forth like black bile from the DM online you would think that the paper itself, you know: the one people usually pay for (not me ha ha I gets all my papers out of bins!) would be a real page turner. You would seriously think that with Brick, and Gypsies and twitterstorms and all that jazz, that the Daily Mail would be like a rollercoaster ride. Vomit inducing. terrifying, but ultimately quite thrilling and vaguely addictive.

Nope. I’ve struggled every day to pick it up. I’ve read classics in less time than it’s taken me to read one day of the Daily Mail.

Page 53 and we have recipes. What recipe would the Daily Mail throw up all over its loving audience do you think? The latest creation from Jamie? A bit of sexed up Nigella? Certainly not Blumenthal.. or potty mouthed Ramsay. Hold it. What’s this?

The Daily Mail - with recipes from the 80s to make you feel like the world never changed

A Tuna Pasta Bake? A TUNA FUCKING PASTA BAKE? I have NOT EVEN SEEN a tuna pasta bake in over 20 years. But here we are – in a paper caught in a time warp. They have recipes for dishes that died in the 80s. I’m surprised they don’t advice you to serve with SMASH and throw in angel delight for pudding!

And this is the point isn’t it. DM online is happy to titillate and troll the internet. Putting up pictures of children in bikinis and models wearing even less alongside fame-stalking pap shots and vile editorials to cajole and tease and insult the left while racking up the site visits and creating a vast web auddience bigger than the population of the UK. But when it comes down to it the paper itself is the media equivalent of weak tea. The pisswater you get when you use one bag for two cups and then spill a slosh too much of milk to boot. It’s tepid, watery, insipid and sits on the roof of your mouth til you find some thing else to wash it out with. That’s precisely why it has taken me over a month to consume 50 pages of one issue. Not because it’s shocking but mainly because it’s boring… and a bit soul destroying.

It’s boring because it knows its audience better than any other paper. They’re boring too. They’re boring, banal, selfish, fearful and probably old. No paper in the world can mirror its print audience better than the Mail can, in this respect, it deserves some actual credit for pandering exactly to the opinions and needs of its print readership. Don’t believe me? Well on pages 54 and 55 we get a view into the minds of the readers through the letters pages… and they’re even more disturbing than the editorials. I’ve made a point of reading all the letters. Twice. They’re absolutely batshit. They range from the gentle but pointless humour of the elderly to the evil troll fuelled hate of a rampant nazi. Have this to ease in gently…

ahh bless. Hold it. Someone writes this on a piece of paper and the Daily Mail published it? MENTAL

There’s even a poem.

A poem
About being
a fucking
Chameleon.

And there’s a limerick

A limerick about horses.

And someone sent in a picture of a monster munch crisp. They really did. A crisp that’s supposed to look like a dog. BUT IT REALLY LOOKS LIKE A CRISP NOT A FUCKING DOG.

There’s a letter entitled “knife crime” that is a genuinely angry rant about how young people don’t hold their cutlery properly these days. Seriously. It’s really angry. It starts off like this

“Has no-one else noticed the increasing number of people who are choosing to eat holding their knife and fork in an incredibly clumsy and ugly manner?”

There’s a letter complaining about the AWFUL AWFUL people at Fortnum and Mason and their poor hamper delivery service.

Oh and then you read something like this and just want to switch all your internal organs off simultaneously and let a small part of your soul shrivel up and die

If we spent the £20,000 per illegal immigrant with the aids virus on our border security they wouldn’t be here in the first place

After the letters there’s 4 pages of telly. Not sure why. I bet most of the people who read the Daily Mail still rake the Radio Times every week – although It’s interesting that the first “recommended pick” is a channel 5 documentary called “The Nazis and the Titanic” – what did I say earlier? Playing to their audience.

After that it’s all ads for a bit. Lots of stairlift ads. Lots and lots of stairlift ads. Oh and an amazing advert allowing people who did national service to buy a special national service medal. Seriously. You can buy a medal to commemorate that time you spend marching up and down the square – only in the Daily Mail would we see such a celebration of faux militarism.

After the ads we’re into the business and sport and that’s all I can take. Ever.

The lesson I’ve learned here is big and pretty important though. The Daily Mail won newspaper of the year because of one campaign. The Stephen Lawrence campaign. That’s it. Fair enough. But there is nothing else there to redeem it. In fact there’s not really much else there at all to be honest.

The Mail Online is a walking talking trolling, celeb pap snapping, hotbed of titillation and opinion that draws in the web in a mixture of disgust and fascination with all the gravital pull of a supermassive black hole. But the paper itself is as dull as dishwater. When you scratch the surface of the sensationalist front pages, draw the poison out of the vitriolic  opinion pieces and stop laughing, crying or scratching your eyes out at the letters pages you’re left with nothing but fluff and adverts. If the Daily Mail were a drink it would be a mainstream brand of sherry like Harveys Bristol Cream. It’s sweet sticky and cloying and it has the middle class pretensions that branded sherry had 30 years ago. But at the end of the day it’s still a dangerous fortified wine and if you consume too much of it you’ll it will poison your soul.

Travel(ler) News

OK so.

I’m a cynic.

I admit it.

Well.

Actually I’m not. I straddle that see-saw fence where I rock from extreme cynicism to this naive wide-eyed puppy-like state. Today I’m feeling cynical.

Many years ago adult comic Viz ran a controversial strip called “Thieving Gypsy Bastards” in it a family of travellers did everything that the negative stereotypes would suggest, fly tipping, scamming, petty crime etc. All with authorities turning a blind eye. Even as an impressionable teenager I thought it was more than a bit close to the bone. But Viz sought to redeem themselves in the same issue by running a short strip about a nice honest gypsy woman. In one way you could say Viz were parodying the views of society in their strips. More likely, they wanted to get away with an appallingly racist cartoon by throwing a tiny morsel of contriteness back at an inflammatory situation. Either way it was years ago. I still feel uncomfortable about that particular strip but Viz made me laugh for over a decade so I guess I swang on my see-saw with wild abandon there.

Pleasantness does not make unpleasantness pleasant

So what does this have to do with the news then?

Well it seems that the press have taken a leaf out of Viz’s book of late. If not the press then maybe the police or the government or whoever decides how to time criminal and legal investigations.

You see a couple of weeks ago the media view of travellers appeared to be getting more and more benign and inclusive as time went by. I’m not naive enough to think that communities were welcoming caravans into their green spaces up and down the country, but shows (albeit in a voyeuristic way) like “My big fat Gypsy wedding” appeared to have given some insight into the travellers ways of life. Last month a traveller, Paddy Doherty, won the 2011 series of celebrity big brother. Even with viewers hemorrhaging since the move to channel 5 this is surely something of a landmark where popular culture is treating the travelling community as more than the stereotypical “Pikey/Gyppo” playground taunts you still hear in shameful common usage among adults. You could say that travellers were beginning to find themselves more integrated into society than ever before. Alternatively you could say that they’d gone from being figures of hate to figures of fun. Posing in their garish dresses for us all to gawp at like we used to at Victorian freak shows. Modern day clowns put in front of a camera purely to entertain the rest of society with their backward ways. There I go again, swinging from one side to the other!

An ambassador or the clown prince of fools to satisfy our societal smugness

The problem though, is that if you humanise these travel folk then you have to start respecting their rights. Their way of life. You know – all that stuff which we brush under the table when it comes to travellers. Now I’m not gonna launch into a big holier than thou defense of travellers here. The fact is that their lifestyles are problematic to the rest of society. They do tend to leave a lot of rubbish to clear up on their travels. They do cause friction with local communities. There are a lot of scams that are run by travellers which are pretty unpleasant (although there are many more run by our banks which appear to deserve billions in taxpayers support so it’s all relative isn’t it?).

So what do we do. Well the Dale Farm eviction has been set in the calendar for some time now. Everyone involved knew about it. But dammit! all these positive vibes that travellers are getting? There’s a chance that the public might be sympathetic to a community that’s living in a scrapyard and not bothering the rest of the world. People might start asking why are we wasting £18m to evict people and cause homelessness when our economy should have other things to worry about? People might start asking about their basic human rights – and why it is that we’re evicting people who have lived somewhere for years specifically to cause misery and hardship in a very unpleasant period of cutbacks and unemployment.

How do you take steps to undermine that sympathy?

Well, like I say, I’ve heard very little in the news about travellers, until a week or so before the eviction – when suddenly travellers were transformed overnight from simple folk who had big flash weddings into slave-trading scum! In the 8 days before the Dale Farm evictions were due we were suddenly bombarded with news about how they’d been chaining people up and feeding them a slice of bread a day.

Compare....

It doesn’t matter that in the aftermath of the raid which liberated these slaves, some of them claimed they had not been ill-treated. Perhaps it’s a case of Stockholm syndrome. What mattered is that suddenly, these weren’t people deserving of sympathy but they were evil peddlers in human misery.

...and contrast

It wasn’t just the Bedfordshire raid that caught the imagination of the press. Suddenly there were slave traders everywhere in the travel community. A few days ago The Mirror was running stories about how travellers sold a slave for £10,000. The Daily Mail was running pieces about slaves kept in kennels by travellers.  There were hundreds of articles pumping out fresh allegations, fresh raids, more evidence of slavery. Now I’m not gonna dispute all these allegations. The fact is that there probably were people kept, as slaves, in squalid conditions by organised criminals who live on the edge of the law. These gangs were exploiting the isolation of traveller communities to act with impunity. This is a nasty fact. Same as any community on the edge of the law, such as the trafficking of sex slaves as prostitutes.

Which brings us to the Dale Farm evictions.

Now this is hardly an open and shut case. It seems the plight of the resident travellers at Dale Farm have been attracting international interest. the UN commission of Human Rights has offered to step in an negotiate. A LOT OF PEOPLE think that Basildon council are acting rashly. The Previous government refused to sanction actions here precisely because of the backlash that it might cause.  This isn’t some “do-gooders” or politically correct campaign. There are international bodies with serious reservations about this fuckwittery.

Lots of support for travellers

So why is it going ahead? I don’t know. But I’d imagine it would have been a lot harder if the police and press hadn’t waited until a week before the proposed eviction before suddenly throwing themselves headlong into a slavery campaign that must have been rumbling on for the last few years… decades if some of the accounts are to be believed. While the wide-eyed naive boy who I’d prefer to be thinks this is just coincidence I have a cynical itch at how staged the timing of all this press hysteria has come to be. It seems that the media are doing a reverse Viz. Demonising a community just as one of the community’s most high-profile and widely supported legal battles reaches its peak!