Monday, October 27, 2008 

Scum-watch: Katy Perry condones spoon crime!

Katy Perry (or at least her publicists) has provided a master class in how to take on the tabloids and win: don't apologise, and do it with humour. Perry has posted the above picture on her blog along with:

…But I DO condone eating ice cream with a very large spoon.

Dear Sun:

You deserve a time out. Your “journalistic” approach has half the soul of the National Enquirer. Shame on you.

Naturally, the Sun itself doesn't know when to give up. While failing to reproduce Perry's wounding second sentence, it has instead got straight on the phone to all the recent relatives of murder victims, which is getting really tiresome:

Furious Richard Taylor, 59, whose son Damilola, ten, was murdered, raged: “She has lost all integrity by this."

Ah yes, a young woman singing a song about kissing girls and liking it, while mocking "metrosexual" young men on another, whilst formerly being a gospel singer; she had and has integrity by the bucketload.

“It would have been better for her to have apologised. Youngsters would have seen that and taken it as something positive. Instead she has decided to challenge us.”

Yes, quite: how dare someone challenge the apparently perpetually grieving, those who can never let go, those who have apparently sold their own integrity in order to be available a provide an outraged quote whenever a newspaper invents a scandal. That's the real outrage here, not Perry's posing with a knife, but her refusal to take it lying down.

Paul Bowman, 45, dad of murdered model Sally Anne Bowman, 18, said: “MTV should pull this woman off air. She shouldn’t be rewarded with an appearance before billions of youngsters. She’s a bad role model.”

Indeed, they should probably get Snoop Dogg to do it again, like he did last year. He's never done anything bad.

Sylvia Lancaster, 52, whose daughter Sophie, 20, was killed in Bacup, Lancs, for being a Goth said: “It’s tasteless. She shouldn’t be allowed to perform in Liverpool considering that poor lad was stabbed to death only a few days ago.”

The idea that the Sun or its pages will ever have any influence in any case on what goes on in Liverpool again is laughable in the extreme, but hey, it's got to keep up appearances.

Note to Russell Brand: this is how you're meant to do it.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008 

Scum-watch: Perry knifes Sun.

Katy Perry's publicist has replied to yesterday's Scum super-splash:

Katy Perry is against all violence. The photo in question was taken in 2005 and is in no way related to the current events in the UK.

Not just two years old then, but three years. This also rather undermines the Sun's "sources" claims that the shots were for her debut album or her website; back in 2005 Perry was working on an entirely different album, according to Wikipedia.

The Sun meanwhile has contacted another relative of a victim of crime:

Ex-EastEnders star Brooke Kinsella, 25, whose brother Ben, 16, was stabbed to death, said: “Celebrities should be role models.”

Quite right. Miss Kinsella's thoughts that "[I]f these evil people want to fight so badly, let them fight for their country" are exactly the sort of thing we should be encouraging.

The Sun incidentally does mention the publicist's comments, but strangely cuts them off mid-flow:

Katy’s publicist said last night: “She is against all violence.”

A case study then for aspiring tabloid journalists: when you need to spice up an otherwise boring report on someone dying, just go to the latest star's MySpace page, grab a photograph of them doing something that makes them seem oblivious or indifferent to someone else's pain, completely invent a "source" to attempt to back the story up, and get a quote from someone guaranteed to be outraged, and you have a front page splash. That you'll be promoting that person at the same time, whilst belittling the victim for sales purposes is neither here nor there.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008 

Scum-watch: I knifed a girl and I liked it.

The invented scandal is undoubtedly one of the very lowest forms of journalism. Alongside the hatchet job on those who can't defend themselves, the trick of getting someone to condemn what someone else has either done or said is not just lazy, dishonest and contemptible, it's also cheap, the first and most important rule of production which now silently governs the press.

Five Chinese Crackers never said it better when he wrote that the tabloids aren't there to report the news; they exist to tell the same stories over and over again in a slightly different way, regardless of the actual facts of the matter, all the time promoting their own viewpoint on just why these things are either happening or what needs to be done to stop them from happening.

You really couldn't get a better example of this than today's front page Sun super-splash, featuring singer Katy Perry holding a flick knife. Juxtaposed with the shot of Perry, apparently taken during a photo-shoot to go with either her album or onto her website, is the fact that in Liverpool another teenager was stabbed to death. The two obviously go together: Perry, by foolishly posing with a knife is glamorising the culture which leads to teenagers carrying knives and then to the inevitable conclusion, the knife being used to injure someone. Ergo, Perry is partially responsible for what has happened, and hence she, along with everyone who has ever held a knife while being photographed, is little less reprehensible than the murderers themselves. The Sun though can't just leave to chance that this is what will run through their readers' heads; they're far too stupid to be left to think for themselves, after all:

POP star Katy Perry poses with a knife — an image which sparked fury last night after another teen was killed by a blade in Broken Britain.

Angry critics said 23-year-old Katy, who sold five million copies of her No1 hit I Kissed A Girl, was “out of her mind” for glamorising knives.

The snap of the singer was taken to make her look “edgy”.

The grieving families of Broken Britain’s young victims could not be faced with a greater — or more baffling — contrast.

This is nothing less than emotional blackmail. How dare someone consider holding a knife in view of a camera while families out there are grieving because other people have used them to stab someone with? Don't you have a conscience?

There is however an obvious contradiction here. If an image of someone holding a knife is so intensely dangerous, so alluring to the average teenager that by just looking at an image of someone fairly famous holding one is likely to lead to them also carrying one, why is the Sun bringing it to such wider audience? After all, in the words of the one person the Sun bothered to contact, or the only one that gave them a suitable quote, Damilola Taylor's father, Richard:

“Any youngsters seeing her will think it is OK to carry a blade.”

Really? Are teenagers so shallow and feeble-minded that seeing one of the most manufactured singers of recent years in the company of a blade that they'll be instantly informed that if she does it in a staged photograph that they can do it in their everyday life? Or is this actually a truly warped view of human nature? As Anorak puts it, if we apply such logic to the Sun's wider oeuvre, we're shortly to be plagued by teenager girls walking around topless, alternately kissing each other whilst plunging a sharp edge into each other's chests.

Such level-headedness though is alien to the Sun's very concept. It treats its readers as infants, therefore they must be infants, therefore they will act like infants when presented with glamour shots of weapons. Any evidence will do to show just how Broken Britain is; it doesn't matter that Perry is American, that the shoot probably took place in America and that the shot in any event was rejected, this is a wider symptom of just how smashed and atomised our society is, as their accompanying "discussion" has it. Anyone would think that the Sun and its owner's other commercial concerns had never glamorised violence, or provided space for similar images.

For a newspaper that so crusades against political correctness, this is an very oddly politically correct line to take. Without wanting to give credence to the idea, it's long been evident that there is either a reverse or a right-wing political correctness, very closely tied to censorship as a whole. This decrees that something must be restricted as a whole because it might be bad to a certain section of society; that adults can make their own choices is irrelevant if children are potentially at risk of harm.

Even the demand for what Perry must do to make amends for her crime is familiar: she must, of course, apologise. Whether she should do it while kissing a girl, or while down on her knees begging for forgiveness from all those throughout the ages that have been the victims of crimes involving knives is unclear, but express sorrow she must:

SCORES of teenagers are stabbed to death each year in Britain.

The latest tragic victim was a 16-year-old Liverpool lad, knifed to death incredibly on his first visit to a church youth club.

So how does publicity-hungry pop babe Katy Perry respond to this massacre on our streets?

By posing for a publicity shot waving a flick-knife.

We need to hear an apology. Fast.

Never mind then that being American, Perry probably isn't aware of this "massacre on our streets", and so isn't responding to it unless you're a Scum leader writer making a story out of nothing, she must apologise and fast. The nation's biggest selling newspaper demands it. The shed blood of our children necessitates it. Nothing less will do.

According to the Katy Perry forum the photograph is years old, so the "source" the Sun is quoting is probably completely made up. It's also quite possible that they might have found the image on Perry's.... MySpace, from where it has since been deleted.

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