Well, by now I suppose most people will have heard that Jade Goody, former Big Brother star, slash racist monster, slash cancer saint has died. To those who haven’t I can only say that they have no idea how jealous I am of their non-Jaded life and that’s all I’m going to say about the whole sorry subject.
Which is more than I’d planned to do but, a bit earlier today, I was reading a newspaper article that seriously annoyed me - which led me to think about the many things that do irritate me, these days, about the media.
One of the things that immediately springs to mind is the way that the so-called mainstream or (God help us) ’serious’ media have embraced the vacuous world of celebrity news & gossip. It used to be only the tabloids that dealt with the likes of Jade Goody, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, or with stories about UFOs, Jetis and the (adopted) children and/or religions of various movie and pop stars. Nowadays, you’re as likely to read about Madonna’s Kabbalah crap or some starlet’s new tattoo in the London Times as in the National Enquirer.
Which is extremely aggravating but not the most irritating part of today’s dumbed down newspaper industry.
No, what’s truly annoying is the way our papers have become the proud propagators of any damn new life style fad that’s doing the rounds. Page after page after page will be wasted on ever new spas and diets – and if it’s not diets, then it’s a never ending stream of articles about other food fads, or cosmetic uses of certain food products.
Then, there are endless columns about dating, about sex, about children, about schools, about family holidays and single weekends – and all of them asserting that the problems (or, God forgive me: ‘challenges’) that we face now are truly different from anything mankind ever had to deal with.
The Bubonic plague; the first and second world war; Stalin’s gulags or Mao’s reeducation camps; all the Jewish pogroms throughout history…?
Psah! That’s nothing compared with today’s work stress, or weight problems, or sexual unfulfillment.
Still, even these moronic life style sections in today’s newspapers are not the true ham sandwich at a Bar Mitzvah. No, the worst of the worst are articles like the following:
“Some people would hate Knoydart. No shops, no cinemas, just 85 square miles of Highland heather, mountains and midges, where deer outnumber locals 10:1. There is a pub, but it’s an 18-mile hillwalk from the nearest road. There is a ferry from Mallaig, but it’s closed at weekends. See why some people might not bother?
Well, Knoydart is just about my favourite place on earth. It’s a land of rare, desolate beauty, a real wilderness. If that sounds good to you, read on: we’ve found 11 more wild, magical, abandoned Knoydarts around the globe.”
Yes, the travel section.
It’s not just the fact that almost all of these travel pieces are written by the kind of people you would hate to sit next to on any airplane: The hopeless hobbyist, the trendy Jet Set wannabe, the cheap skate weekend escapist, the cruise and four star elitist, the wildlife anorak and the pathetic beach bore.
In other words, the neighbours/colleague/uncle from Hell – the ones who will bore your head off with stories about their holiday and who will show you their photos and home movies until you manage to saw their heads off with the nearest more or less sharp instrument within easy reach.
Worse than these travel stories though are the kinds of articles that inform the millions of eager readers about some unspoilt, unknown destination. A tropical island with its coral reef as of yet untouched; a city that, so far, has avoided to become a stag weekend destination; a hiking trail or river that has been overlooked for centuries; an indigenous tribe that, till this day, had not heard of Big Macs or Big Brother…
Yes, the kind of article that serves as a map that points the rapacious tourist crowd towards the last few unspoilt places on Earth.
In a way, the people who write these travel pieces are far worse than those who make their money with their disgusting Jade Goody obituaries. No matter what you may have thought about her when she was alive, she’s gone now and well out of it. Whatever the tabloids (and mainstream newspapers) choose to do to her corpse doesn’t matter all that much. The dead don’t mind a bit of necrophilia.
These travel writers though are making their sad wages with the rape, and the encouragement of rape, of the last few virgin bits of our long-suffering planet.
Compared to that, fucking the famous corpse of a cancer victim is a more harmless and attractive life style choice.