Roughly fifty percent of the billions of people on this planet have female bodies and you want to keep it a SECRET? - Alf Hayward
A few days ago we commented on the case of Morien Jones who took his neighbour to court for parading around her (and his, it turned out) garden without any clothes on. We were not alone - search for his name on Google and you'll find any number of slanted news reports and columns of opinion about him.
The general perception is that (a) there's nothing wrong with the human body, and (b) he shouldn't have been offended by it.
Now we are witnessing a media feeding frenzy about Heather Mills, Paul McCartney's soon-to-be ex-wife. Apparently she appeared in scenes with a male model in a mildly pornographic German book of photos in 1988, so we are seeing screaming headlines about "Heather the Hooker".
The newspapers, principally the detestable Daily Mail, are cashing in on the great popularity Paul McCartney enjoys in the hearts of the British public - he has been around for years, he was the leading member (imho) of probably the greatest and most innovative pop group of all time (also imho), he's obscenely rich yet comes across as a really decent bloke, he's never before been involved in any unsanitary scandal - and we love him for it. The Daily Mail knows that anything that threatens him will be of interest and concern to its readers, and it's making the most of it.
Although Macca was certainly a great musician, he doesn't always seem to be the sharpest knife in the box. You don't have to be a great brain to be a talented musician, any more than to be captain of England. Conversely, there are plenty of highly intelligent people who can neither compose music nor score from a free kick outside the penalty area.
Although I'm sure he does now regret marrying Heather, I'm equally sure that it's not because she once took her clothes off for the camera. But that's the most important thing according to the Daily Mail.
So what are our press saying here? That it was all right for Morien Jones' neighbour to take her clothes off, but not Heather Mills? But isn't that what models do? Don't they all show off their bodies in one sense or another? And if so, what's wrong with that? We've all got bodies - it's not as if they're showing us anything we haven't seen before or won't see again. Frankly, the GOS doesn't see nearly enough of them.
Are we really that hypocritical? Well, no. As a nation and a society I don't think we are. But our newspapers are, and this is very worrying. Whether we like it or not, they shape our thinking. They select the facts we think we know and on which we base our judgements. And sadly, we can't do without them - for every disgusting bit of prurient double-think they plaster across the front page, there's also a political or business scandal that would never have come to light if some dirty-minded little rodent of a reporter hadn't gone snouting through the dustbins of Westminster or the City.
They say that every nation gets the government it deserves. I fancy the same is true of the press. Doesn't say much for us, does it?
The GOS says: an update - Morien Jones has been campaigning against the biased and inaccurate reporting of his case, and writes to tell us that he has actually received an apology from the BBC. Only 999 newspapers and websites to go.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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