Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Well You've Got to Really, Haven't You

It is virtually impossible at the moment not to have formed some view on the Murdoch press scandal, even if it's only that you wish it would go away.

Mr R Murdoch, Mr J Murdoch and several other Murdoch name bearers almost certainly are adherents of the 'please go away' view of things and, to begin with, I was too. I thought at first that the story was just one of those storms in a tea cup, where journalists get terribly excited about issues that are just about other journalists and not of much concern to people outside the journalist tribe.

Of course, my view has changed now - fuelled by various recent revelations, but also by the performance of Paul McMullan, the News of the World's former features editor, on this clip on You Tube:

"What better source of getting to the truth is there than listening to someone's messages?" I mean really. McMullan's pathetic defence of the carryings on at his paper rests on a grasping, envious argument about it being legitimate to expose every detail of the lives of people, if they are rich or have more than one house or sometimes 'parade' down red carpets.

As I listened to McMullan spout his  pernicious nonsense, I was reminded of the aspects of public life in Britain that seemed to me to be new and horrid, when I returned there for a few years in 2006 - a collective meanness, a tendency to jeering and sneering and a fondness for witnessing humiliation were among those.

I had thought that one of the causes of those changes might have been the British public's profound disappointment when, after being whipped into a frenzy of romantic excitement, they discovered that the 1982 wedding between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer had not been the fairytale they'd been told it was but, largely, a fraud. Now I began to see that, even if fertile ground was provided by the public disillusion that resulted from that event, it was only because certain (Murdochean) forces decided to exploit that disillusion for their own ends that attitudes in Britain had descended as far as they had. Now those forces were being exposed at last, I realised. And that began to give me hope.

For it does seem to me that a great deal of the tawdry vulgarisation of British life - where lack of talent and skill is worshipped so much that it is rewarded by wealth and fame (why do those weird little characters, Ant and Dec, whose role I've never quite fathomed, spring automatically to mind at this point, along with the woman who wears pink, loves horses and has enormous breasts, [actually a gargoyle parade of others is now making its way through my head, but I won't name all the grotesques who have been thrust into my consciousness by Murdoch and his gang {and they are lodged there, even though I've never bought one of their filthy papers}]) - arose originally from News Corporation's ferocious obsession with feeding the public appetite for gossip and spectacle and disgrace.

If therefore News Corporation is exposed as having been engaged in foul behaviour in order to do that, perhaps the public, recoiling in horror and disgust at the means by which their swill has been fetched for them, will lose its appetite for this kind of distraction at last.The former readers of the News of the World may glance at themselves for a moment after this and ask themselves why they actually want this stuff - and, indeed, this way of life. Then, hurray, we may return to the England of duty and honour and restraint that I remember from childhood. But possibly I'm being a little too optimistic.

(And tomorrow, if you're interested, I'll tell you why I've felt sorry for Mr Rupert Murdoch for the last 20 years - and I still do.)


  1. You can hardly think worse of the Murdochs than I do, but I question whether the press has grown that much worse than it was.I also wonder whether you remember an England of duty and honor and restraint because your parents didn't take News of the World and rationed your time in front of the television.

  2. Perhaps it was the rose-coloured glasses they always made me wear.

  3. Tabloid journalists truly are scum. I also hope that the public will "lose its appetite for this kind of distraction", but I'm not holding my breath.

  4. Is there anything to feed that appetite in your local press, Gadjo, or has it not reached there? I don't know what they have in that line in Hungary. I wonder if Hello and OK magazines are translated into Hungarian or whether the market's too small

  5. Thanks for clip of Coogan, Mr McD et al in GB.
    I enjoyed Coogan's performance as Alan Wilson, a broadcaster and entrepreneur of Manchester rocknroll in the 70s in 24 Hour Party People. Theme song maybe "Laa-ve, only laa-ve will tear us apart."
    And I must admit that one chinese New Year we entertained the kids of the district with he and Jackie Chan in Around the world in Eighty days. Thought interesting your reflection on the meanness, jeering and sneering over in the Old Dart and media's possible influence on this. Miserableness and Mean spiritedness are despicable in this yard.

  6. Hello Geoff - I liked the film Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden made that was based on Tristram Shandy, which I haven't read (and I can't remember the name of the film offhand - something complicated as I recall [as the younger daughter has just arrived at Manchester airport to fly to Paris, only to discover I booked her from Heathrow, I'm in a bit of a panic about my memory and general mental acuity this morning, but still the name of the film won't come]). There's another film out with both of them in it at the moment, made from a TV series - funny, but very bleak in the end (also can't remember its name, oh dear [at least I can still remember you - I think.])