Poking fun at the supposedly logically-challenged Daily Mail reader is an endless source of amusement for lefties, so let’s see what happens when Charlie Brooker, a well-respected Guardian columnist known for his canny wit and merciless takedowns, takes a pop at the right-wing rag.
In an article entitled “When the Daily Mail calls rightwingers stupid, the result is dumbogeddon“ Brooker reports that The Daily Mail has quoted some research claiming that right-wingers are stupid. A strange move for a right-wing paper, to be sure, when you take into account that the usual topic under discussion is that well-known scourge of society, that blight in our midst destroying civilization as we know it: those single mothers. So when the DM takes a break from bashing single mothers (and foreigners) for long enough to print an article about the stupidity of its readers it is worth paying attention.
The Mail’s report went on to detail the results of a study carried out by a group of Canadian academics, which appears to show some correlation between low childhood intelligence and rightwing politics. It also claimed that stupid people hold rightwing views in order to feel “safe”. Other items they hold in order to feel safe include clubs, rocks and dustbin lids. But those are easy to let go of. Political beliefs get stuck to your hands. And the only way to remove them is to hold your brain under the hot tap and scrub vigorously for several decades.
All well and good. But Brooker is right to then ask the question “what sort of right wing paper is the Daily Mail anyway?” , pointing out that it’s chock full of pics of scantily clad young women out on the town enjoying themselves. How do endless articles about sexually available libertine celebrities square up with right-wing politics? He can’t understand. He puts the phenomenon down to some obscure marketing fluke and concludes that despite not trying to appeal to its core readership, the Daily Mail has somehow managed to pull in the conservatives on a wing and a prayer, or because of its readers stupidity….
The print edition of the paper is edited by Paul Dacre, who is regularly praised by media types for knowing what his customers want, and then selling it to them. This is an extraordinary skill that puts him on the same rarefied level as, say, anyone who works in a shoe shop. Or a bike shop. Or any kind of shop. Or in any absolutely any kind of business whatsoever. Whatever you think about Dacre’s politics, you can’t deny he’s got a job to do, and he does it. Like a peg. Or a ladle. Or even a knee. Dacre is perhaps Britain’s foremost knee.
Curiously, the online version of the Mail has become a hit by doing the reverse of what Dacre is commended for doing. It succeeds by remorselessly delivering industrial quantities of precisely the opposite of what a traditional Mail reader would presumably want to read: frothy stories about carefree young women enjoying themselves. Kim Kardashian or Kelly Brook “pour their curves” into a selection of tight dresses and waddle before the lens and absolutely nobody on the planet gives a toss apart from Mail Online, which is doomed to host the images, and Mail Online’s readers, who flock in their thousands to leave messages claiming to be not in the slightest bit interested in the story they’re reading and commenting on.
He gets as far as understanding that the men are turning up at the Daily Mail Online to ogle the women, but falls short in getting why they would need to do it at that particular paper. I suppose the real question is, why would a right-wing conservative reader not want to save face and protect his self-image by going elsewhere to ogle semi-naked women? They have the internet, hell they’ve even got porn sites (are we really to believe right-wing men don’t watch porn in secret?) so why do these images need to be in their paper when it’s against what they’re supposed to stand for?
One ends up with the feeling that the paper is purposely making a statement about women, and is therefore in a roundabout way aligning itself with men, all men: left wing men, apolitical men, communists, whoever. There’s the common denominator. Putting women in their place objectifying them is first in the list of priorities of any paper. When that is established and understood by all, only then is it worth making space for the nitty gritty finer details of left or right, which may in fact be irrelevant to the DM. Brooker misses the point that the core readership (of both papers) regard women’s subjugation as absolutely vital, necessary and possibly natural. All other content is window dressing.
To prove his point (that Daily Mail writers and readers are stupid) he sardonically quote a few commenters. I don’t know whether or not the majority of DM readers are male (though I suspect they are), but he decides to quote a few “stupid females”:
“Stupidest study of them all,” raged a reader called Beth. “So were the testers conservative for being so thick or were they left and using a non study to make themselves look better?” Hmmm. There’s no easy answer to that. Because it doesn’t make sense.”
“If there is one person I can not stand and that is a snob who thinks they are intelligent because if they were intelligent and educated they wouldn’t be snobs,” argued Liz from London. Once you’ve clambered over the broken grammar, deliberately placed at the start of the sentence like a rudimentary barricade of piled-up chairs, there’s a tragic conundrum at work here. She claims intellectual snootiness is ugly, which it is, but unfortunately she says it in such a stupid way it’s impossible for anyone smarter than a steak-and-ale pie not to look down on her. Thus, for Liz, the crushing cycle of snobbery continues.
I’m going to be nitpicky here by stating that considering women have been traditionally regarded as intellectually inferior, and still are to a large extent, I don’t think it’s Brooker’s place to quote “stupid women” for laughs. But he does quote some stupid men as well, which I guess makes it equal and all that.