“Ghost of Jacko bummed my monkey”, “Is THIS the most dangerous chicken in Britain?” and “The EU wants to ban our kettles”. These are ridiculous headlines that I’ve made up, but they could have been genuine tabloid headlines. Actually, one of them is real, but the other two could have been real. Well, in the interest of coming clean: I’ve made none of them up; they’re ALL real.
Before I moved to the UK, I somewhat knew that the British tabloids were far removed from real journalism, but nothing could have prepared me for their unrelenting torrent of vitriol. Of course, every newspaper has some political leaning or other, but I was appalled by the fact that tabloids are not interested in reporting the news. They pick a side, start fires, report how high the flames are and call it ‘journalism’.
If you are not familiar with the various different tabloids (or if you like to be entertained by an outsider’s point of view), I have given some descriptions of some of the most important British tabloids below:
The Sun: With The Sun, every day is Opposite Day. On page 1, The Sun might decry the lack of morals among the British populace only to feature a woman with a pair of large naked breasts on page 3. The Sun prints its headlines in a ludicrously large font, whereas when it has been forced to print a rectification, you may need a magnifying glass to be able to read it.
Daily Mail: Also known as the ‘Daily Fail’, the Daily Mail is fervently Tory and really only tends to write about a very limited number of topics, primarily ‘migrants ruin everything’ and ‘everything causes cancer’; we are currently awaiting a ‘migrants cause cancer’ headline. A newspaper very close to the Daily Mail is the Daily Telegraph, which by and large prints the same content, only with longer sentences and more difficult words. Also fun to note is that Wikipedia has banned its users from using the Mail as a source as it’s ‘unreliable’.
Daily Express: According to the Express, absolutely everything causes ‘fury’ or ‘outrage’, and everything it deems to be wrong is ‘sickening’. The fact that Richard Desmond, its former owner, made his fortune in the porn industry only serves to make that laughably hypocritical. The Express is also famous for peddling Schrödinger’s migrant. You know, the foreigner who lazes about claiming benefits whilst simultaneously stealing your job. Another remarkable fact about the Express is that it STILL features the late Princess Diana on its front page at least once a fortnight.
Daily Star: Very much the tabloid equivalent of The Very Hungry Caterpillar: lots of pictures, few words (none of which are difficult) and about as much depth to it as an undug hole in the ground. To keep it interesting, a few pictures of boobs are thrown in for good measure.
I suppose what astonishes me mostly about the tabloids is that, in their bid to be ‘impartial’, the BBC treats more reputable newspapers such as The Times, The Guardian and the Financial Times exactly the same as the tabloids. It is on par with attaching the same value to the opinion of a professor on International Relations and that of Fat Terry down the pub, whose knowledge of all things international stems from his Benidorm holiday in ’05.
I have heard many people over the years refer to the tabloids as ‘toilet paper’. That is all well and good, but the comparison doesn’t hold water; because, would you really wipe your bottom with something that is already full of shit?