2. Page Three as Empire Propaganda

The Sun’s very odd attempt to dignify the women it presents on page 3 has been to quote them saying something vaguely intellectual. I’m not sure when they started that. There is so much that could said about this absurd gesture; how it creates such a ridiculous and almost comical juxtaposition, and how it paints such a moronic picture of the models, the “readers” and the newspaper itself. Can you imagine the board meeting where they thought of it? Did they really think that it would settle people’s concerns, this disingenuous bit of false justification to point at when under fire?

Today I’m thinking more about what they (allegedly) say… in particular about what Hattie from Cambelwell said some weeks back, because it’s a brilliantly typical piece of empire speak. She says something about her relief that the recession isn’t as bad as we’d thought, and then she quotes the philosopher William James saying: “pessimism leads to weakness and optimist leads to power.”

So, out of the mouth of the day’s pornographic image we are told, everything is fine… all is well in the empire… please just carry on as normal… The empire can’t bare discontent or unrest among the people – because unrest brings change and the empire needs things to stay the same. Forever, if possible. It can’t bare the contemplation of its own decline.

Hattie works like a societal MOT. She makes sure all the parts continue to work as before, so that tomorrow things will continue as they are today. And so we’re told there is no need for us to think historically, critically, socially, generationally or economically. In fact there’s no need to think at all – Hattie has it down. We’re told to look only to the next moment of self-gratification.

As the prophet Jeremiah puts it:

They dress the wounds of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

Of course, it is a critical approach to the present that brings about a changed future, and the powers don’t appreciate that. Murdoch is the present, he is the status quo, and he wants it to carry on indefinitely. So, it’s the ironic effect of that nugget of pigeon philosophy that the people are taught not to think, but to carry on as ever, haplessly obedient to the phallic gaze.

As I say, I think this is only one (particularly absurd) example of what is really just generic empire speak – a mindset and a discourse which is everywhere. A look around the average message board regarding the no more page three campaign will often reveal just the same sentiment from a school of men who claim to have nothing but disdain for page three, but show an even greater disdain for any campaign against it. They never give an argument against the campaign (just jibes and sophistry) – but their general sentiment is just that it’s distasteful, or naïve, or somehow wrong for grass roots people to presume to question the normal ordering of things, to make themselves heard, or to move in any way for change. They uphold the empire’s numbing sentiment that change of any kind is probably bad, that the idealism of the juvenile utopianists will be the death of us all and that we should all mind our business and not trouble ourselves with issues larger than our own selves. Peace peace! they say. Stop messing with the powers… Theodor W Adorno notes the tendency we have to see through the lies of mass culture, but to obey them anyway.

We should note that there is different treatment for those who question the powers of mass culture than for those who question the powers of party politics. The latter are thought more acceptable, but the token journalist on the Question Time panel always has a certain immunity. There is a sense that they form a non-political party that really represent the people (and some try quite honourably to do that). But the idea that mass culture isn’t a political kind of power, or that those who hold the greatest power over public opinion should never be subject to public scrutiny is very troubling. The idea that they should never feel the force of public disdain is to grant them not only political power but also immunity.

On the note of political power, another troubling example was what’s-her-face from wherever saying how sad she was that a teenage girl got rudely heckled at the nasty Labour party conference. On the opposite page was an article saying that many people are losing faith in what David Cameron stands for. And so, Rupert Murdoch, dressed up as semi-naked teenage girl holds the political parties, one in each hand. He knows he can make or break either, and they know it too. Do we really want the politics of our nation to be tied up with these peddlers of soft porn? Some shout us down because they underestimate the issue (which makes me wonder why they bother themselves…). Others shout us down even louder because they are well aware of what is at stake.

If any of this bothers you please begin by signing the no more page three petition


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