A BOWL OF CORNFLAKES: 3 reasons to defend the Daily Mail reader from the Tedious Intellectual Show-Off #TISO

Introducing; a bowl of cornflakesfrontEasy targets, safe starters, fall back options, ever-reliables! Everybody has them; subjects we can always rely on as a constant source of laughter from our peers. Noel Gallagher had Phil Collins, Hunter S Thompson had Nixon and my mates Landlord has anybody who studied an ‘ology other than from the University of Life.

Alternative comedians have the Daily Mail and it’s readership, a scene that’s subsequently now as alternative as a bowl of cornflakes.

When will everybody be sick of the uncreative bandwagon that is DM-bashing? It’s the pedophile priest of the atheist comedy set, the “your Mum” of the playground dig, the “run forest, run” of the jogger taunt, the “we need to stop meeting like this” of the small talk retaliation, the ‘kill all hippies’ of the novelty T-shirt range, the funky dance/weed smoking scene of a Jonah Hill film. Like the vast bulk of a Stewart Lee comedic set, being brought onstage as an intellectual replacement for the pie in the face gag.

But it’s not just the uncreative element that irks me so, but the moral high horsing, the snobbery and simple hypocrisy that goes with the majority of DM-bashing. And so through this piece, I will look to outline a case for why it’s time for us to make way for the next easy target, and like taxi drivers before them, Daily Mail readers have had their day in the comedic spotlight (although of course unlikely to be heeded by Stewart Lee who still has a special place for the exhausted ignorant Taxi Driver gag).

From the left-wing bourgeoisie to the former Big Brother contestant I recently met on a night bus, I’ve yet to meet anybody who disagrees with me on the points I want to outline. So instead of parodying my thoughts via a submission to thedailymash.com (i.e. “Mail Online Overtakes The New York Times With New Readership Of Comedians Searching For Material” as one working title), I set about on a mission to establish why the jokes about the Daily Mail and its readership are now the sole property of the Tedious Intellectual Show-Off (TISO).

TISO_Definition

My case for consideration will be spread over the below chapters.

2.1   The UNORIGINALITY of it all

2.2   The SNOBBERY of it all

2.3   The INTOLERANCE of it all

And, if you’re an America reading this, simply substitute the word Daily Mail with Fox News and you’ve got yourself a relatable piece of journalism. That’s the level of ubiquity we’re at.

The unoriginality of it all

Volume of tweets aimed solely at Daily Mail readers between Oct 2012 - Oct 2013

Kilburn, 2013

The compare rattled my name, and gave the cue. The audience applause was half-hearted yet stank of expectation. Fair enough, why clap an unknown onto a stage? I didn’t have to wait long for the noise to die down, before firing up my opening gambit;

“Hello Comedy fans, I must confess I’m not actually a comedy fan. Well as much as I don’t watch much on TV or go to many gigs myself. So to avoid repetition or infringement on other Comedians, I’ll skip jokes about Ryanair luggage charges, catholic church priests, Daily Mail readers and the ginger one from Girls Aloud”

After making sure it’s okay with everybody else, they unleash their laughter with communal acknowledgement that I am the one they’d been waiting for; somebody who’s not afraid to acknowledge we need more jokes about Daily Mail readership as much as we need another special edition of Q Magazine on Nirvana’s Nevermind album.

Of course, I did no such thing; don’t have the bottle to get onstage myself. So instead sat in silence but for my half-asked applause to the comedian ambling up on stage.

So for a bit of context, a few nights back I saw the self-deprecating virtual double act, Dan & Dan, at the Good Ship comedy club. With the physical Dan on stage with guitar, and the other (same guy) on a projector screen, they conducted a seamlessly flawless duet of song and gag, the material and timing impeccable.

The Dan(s) rounded off their set with a montage of mockery at the Daily Mail; while physical Dan did the music, his onscreen presence held the headlines – photo shopped for maximum bigotry.

I automatically lost faith in the show in the same way I do when a cockney accent discloses they support Manchester United in a football-centric conversation. It was all too easy.

It was very similar to Russell Howard’s Daily Mail Cancer Song – though given the plumper and fresher faced Dan on screen in comparison to his real-time self, a Dan who perhaps had a consistent standard of living before a life of full-time comedy, clarifies the length of time he’s been rolling this act out. No lawsuits there.

It’s not that I disagree with the frequent artistic attacks on Britain’s biggest newspaper that compelled me to write this, but because it highlights the one-dimensional lack of originality of an act, and pongs of desperation for a fist-pumping audience  – The DM-reader gag being the bell to Pavlov’s comedy-hungry students.

It’s contagious. In Tesco recently I was handed a coupon for the Daily Mail by a non-English speaking worker to which I automatically thought “and in the frozen aisle section, the turkeys are campaigning for Christmas”. If I could’ve been bothered I might have submitted that to Russell Howard’s Good News. It really is that easy. Whilst briefing an American colleague about my ideas for writing this, I was saved the effort of providing context as she was fully aware of the Daily Mail’s reputation. She’s only been here 2 months, still living in corporate accommodation and struggles to pronounce ‘Marylebone’ correctly, yet already has the zeitgeist covered. Though she’s not the only yank with one foot on the bandwagon as demonstrated by Amanda Palmer’s song to the Daily Mail about her tits

Just as the jokes are contagious, so is the disapproval. Returning from a recent jaunt to Amsterdam, I picked a copy up at the airport (they’re free if you sneak into the British Airways lounge). Passing a few copies round to my group, the aspiring comedian of our mates squirmed in avoidance as if I’d handed him an abandoned syringe from a Kings Cross public toilet. He couldn’t be seen with it. His stand-up used to focus on Eddie Stobart spotters, counterfeit photo-frames and his Grandad’s stag-do. Now he just sounds like every other “alternative” comedian who’s auditioning for a residency at the SOAS Student Union.

It’s arguably not a new phenomenon this (people have been attacking the paper for right-wing credential since its backing of Oswald Mosley’s 1950’s fascist ideals). But there is no doubt a renaissance of sorts. You only need to look at Vice Magazine’s All Grown Up: Sexing Up The Internet With The Daily Mail authored by “Jimmy Saville”, Youtube’s flurry of Daily Mail songs, The Guardian’s Daily Mail Website DIY Kit, Radiohead’s setlist and Poke’s Daily Mail Tube Map to see this movement have some of the best minds on the case.

The majority of the above are in fact pretty humorous – and considering they target the source responsible for such rotten reports concerning Lucy Meadows and Ed Milliband’s Dad, it’s very hard for me to abstain from pointing and laughing along with everybody else. And by absolutely no means is this a stand for the paper, it’s just I feel the same way about the majority of attacks as I do jokes about the Royal Family and Christian values; they’re ammo for stupid people to sound clever, by targeting stupid people. And quite frankly, I’m bored shitless by them.

It’s not just those with a bit of wit, as even Joe Public has got on the bandwagon of making jokes about a paper for notoriously jumping on a bandwagon. Think you’ve got an amazingly disparaging tweet to make about the DM readership that will break ground? Get the constant retweets that can both improve your social reach and follower list? Don’t bother unless you can’t think for yourself, for it’s quite a saturated market. In the past year, over 38,871 tweets have taken aim at the Daily Mail reader and in many cases from people much wittier and original than you or I (Bob Mortimer has twice stirred up the RTs using the DM-reader as his muse). But invariably they’re all as one-dimensional as each other.

With Facebook everybody can now have a Hello-wedding. With Wikipedia everybody can be a genius. With Skype anybody can call Australia. With Twitter everybody can be a journalist. With the Daily Mail everybody can be a comedian.

Almost non-surprisingly, this corner of the market isn’t just corned by have-been and would-be comedians, but also taken residency with commercial house music, a crowd-pleaser with Calvin Harris, Fake Blood, James Hadouken and Example.

Electro musicians have a particular penchant for Daily Mail reader bashing
Electro musicians have a particular penchant for Daily Mail reader bashing

It’s not just the tedious repetition that irks me so, but the affect it’s having on other arenas of creative output. It may go someway of explaining why the UK is arguably at it’s most innovative yet why my social media feed is dominated by pictures of #selfie and burgers.

It’s quite hard to accurately pinpoint the progenitor of this movement. On one episode of Russell Howard’s Good News the protagonist addressed some story from that week’s current affairs, before turning to the camera and sardonically announcing “and news just in, the Daily Mail have secured a big enough bandwagon for everybody to jump on”.  Ironically enough, hoarding his student-laced audience onto the biggest bandwagon of them all; Daily Mail bashing – still, a bandwagon is better than a high horse I suppose.

However, forgetting about the recent fury over the DM’s criticism of Ralph Milliband, and Alastair Campbell and Mehdi Hasan going head-to-head for the DM-bashing soundbite and subsequent Youtube views, you’d have to cast your mind back to Question Time (9/2/2012) for the seminal moment of Daily Mail bashing, the movement’s Spike Island. Fittingly this was during the peak of the Leversen enquiry.

Not only did this provide fertile ground for DM-bashing, but also highlighted that even comedic heavyweights feel the need to toe the knackered party line of the arts and the Tedious Intellectual Show-Offs.

But Steve Coogan, one of Britain’s greatest comedy actors? I was surprised. His hate of the paper, that’s quite understandable (they exposed him of getting Owen Wilson addicted to smack and banging prostitutes in LA), but his readiness to oblige to the script of denouncing it publicly wasn’t so.

On the subject of Abu Qatada’s impending extradition, Coogan acknowledged he may be “full of vitriol and hateful odious views, in which case he could go and write for the Daily Mail”.

Of course he got the laughs and while I agreed with the majority of Coogan’s stance (we’re better monitoring Qatada here at the Daily Mail’s reported cost of £10,000-a-week), I still felt let down he exploited his comedic superiority to manipulate the sound effects of the crowd with evidently pre-drafted material. Steve, I love you man, but please leave the easy stuff to the other lads.

When fellow guest, former Daily Mail contributor and Saxondale fanatic, Ann Leslie reminded Coogan and Alistair Campbell of the damaging effects of encouraging heavier regulation on press freedoms, it was the latter’s chance to go for glory with  “40 years on the Daily Mail and you talk about damaging the country”. Campbell went on further to lambast media’s “Big Three”. Now I quite like Campbell, mainly as the only other Burnley fan I know aside from my Dad, but was skeptical of his position to ridicule the press he so heavily relied on in during his career. Leslie’s retort she’d “object to taking moral lessons from Alistair Campbell; the author of the dodgy dossier” was sufficient.

The audience even got stuck in, with one chap suggesting “it would be wrong to restrict freedom of the press in a free society, but surely the best way to control it, is for ordinary people like us to stop buying rubbish like the Daily Mail” – arguably the most sensible bashing I’ve ever heard, but that’s the problem, people do buy it and considering the vast majority of the newspaper purchasing public do, surely the content is a largely shared view of the nation. But that’s a separate democratic issue. And besides the point, the Daily Mail wasn’t even a paper accused of phone hacking but why reinvent the wheel, eh?

Also present was Baroness Williams, a Liberal Democrat representative in the House of Lords, who was in my mind the most impressive amongst the guests (though I’m a believer comedians don’t belong on Question Time) who stood close to her principles, but not too close as to be childishly stubborn. Yet when the ball was played in she didn’t mess about, dismissing Leslie’s view as being “expectant of somebody who works at the Daily Mail”. Either nobody heard it, or the audience was spent for the evening, but she didn’t get the laughs society and the BBC owed her.

Great minds think alike, but fools never differ.

the snobbery of it all

Owen Jones enjoying himself on a march against the Daily Mail
Now there’s no reason why people shouldn’t voice their concerns of the Daily Mail in large numbers. We’ve all seen the good that can stem from a mass movement against life’s unpleasantries, and a publication that’s been overly unkind to transsexual teachers, cast shadows on the life of a gay man and launched a scathing attack on the dead dad of a Politician, is as good a target as any. Let’s do it. But before you go for their readers, consider this…
Whether the Tedious Intellect Show-Off (TISO) likes it or not, the Daily Mail does trumpet a number of concerns for the struggling. And in the cases they do, they are the only ones doing so.

Amongst the targeted and stereotypical Daily Mail reader (i.e. suburban curtain twitchers), there are also people who are generally affected by the things that the DM tends to cover. Take my mate Jamie in the building trade who’s genuinely concerned with how the influx of cheaper labour from the EU will affect his standard of living. If he voices his concerns, should we all scoff and snigger at the ignorant racist Daily Mail reader? The same people who claim to champion fair living wages, are the most likely to scoff. Believe me.

Owen Jones, ironically enough the author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, is always quick to ridicule this segment of society (he recently went on a protest against the paper). Now I’m not entirely sure how he defines ‘working class’; somebody who has too much ketchup on their chips? Who’s reduced to substituting “fuck” in place of an adverb in common parlance? Essentially to scoff and sneer at a hugely successful newspaper (2 million in circulation and 9 million website visitors daily) that goes someway of examining issues that affect Jones’ playthings the most, shouldn’t go unreported.

I often imagine left-wing Guardian readers being the main conspirators against the DM, and they mainly do make the most impressive TISOs. But all ends of the spectrum can be guilty of looking down their noses at somebody for the paper they read. But on day of writing this, The Guardian’s job listing page is filled with local council roles with attractive salaries of between £65k-100k a year. Intended for an audience who tend to be outside the sphere of problems that the DM covers, but are often at the heart of their polemic. Think prospectives of frugal councils and those who walk away from the BBC on big payoffs.

Below are a few tweets from those who evidently think they’re better than DM-readers.

Hysteria

I’m often taken back to the school playground when I hear and see the above points of view expressed in word or tweet. I’m back overhearing the resident Goths sneering from the sidelines at everybody else for being “shallow”, “commercial” and “judgmental”.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I’ve tried to keep this relatively light-hearted while trying to address some serious issues here. Things are going to get a bit hairy in the next paragraph, where I’m about to have a ganders at the nation’s most desirable dinner-party guest and the panal host show we love to love; Stephen Fry.

In a recent rebuttal to a reply of his open letter to boycott Sochi 2014 from Conservative academic Adrian Hilton, Mr. Fry fails to attack a single question posed to him (i.e. why we shouldn’t boycott the Russian arts he has a hand in) but instead attacks the paper personally for it’s support of the Nazis. Here’s a dare, make a joke about the role the Germans played in supporting Hitler and see if you can escape the wrath of being labeled “another Jeremy Clarkson” or even worse, an outdated jingoist.

But back to Fry, and it was his comment “The only good thing to be said about his [Paul Dacre, editor] Mail is that no one decent or educated believes in it” that startled me. Unless you’re troubled about breaking LadBible Rule #207, you’ve got to ask yourself if this is consistent with his fair, tolerant and liberal values.

It’s the intellectual equivalent of criticizing somebody’s spelling rather than their content. Or going in with a two-footed challenge after your opponent has nutmegged you, getting just enough of the ball for your own fans to applaud. Thankfully however, he’ll remain our national treasure and the one our Children will dream of writing their GCSE essays.

Along with the snobbery and the hypocrisy of it all, I’m also slightly irked about the sense of righteousness that comes with bashing the DM. People who are most frequent attackers of the paper aren’t anymore likely to give up their seat on a crowded bus, nor are they any less likely to dance on the streets to commemorate the death of a dementia-suffering former Prime Minister.

Below is a tweet from @janeypica, who in the last year has targeted Daily Mail readers several times via Twitter (she’s 5th in this league table).
Noose

She no doubt believes she’s a force for good. But in this reality, attacking a national newspaper of it’s readers for their views will not make you resemble a “Goodie” from a Disney animation anymore than Hitchens or Littlejohn.

2.3 The Intolerance of it all

Image

If I was of a paranoid background, I’d pin the DM-bashing renaissance on a ploy by Left-wing media to stigmatise the Daily Mail to such a degree, that people feel as uncomfortable purchasing it as I do buying breakfast cereal after 2pm. The DM is one of the few profitable success stories in an industry that is struggling to turn a profit, and so their rivals must be green with envy. To stigmatize the paper too would also deter potential advertisers. Though with the growth of the internet (and MailOnline’s success in overtaking the New York Times as the most visited news website), this is unlikely going to pose much issue.

Image

Next I’d look at the Labour supporting mob who are fed up of being reminded by the DM of their shambolic government. By tarring anybody who bemoans their widely-perceived failures (i.e. the erosion of British sovereignty, immigration, inflated school grades) as being a scaremonger or a racist, they can go someway of devaluing the opinion of those who share the DM’s critique and to some extent temporarily re-write history.

In a similar vein, I’d even push the idea that the barrage from the celebrity elite is an attempt to undermine the paper that is forever exposing their lies and cheating (Ricky Gervais actually used a negative review from the DM in his favour, placing the verbatim as a strapline on one his promotional posters for his Science Tour).

I’m not entirely sure about the above, but they all still hold more water than any 9/11 conspiracy theory I’ve been privy to. I’ve often wondered why Channel 4, often promoting Seven Dwarves and The Undatebales as riveting exploration, isn’t as much of a target for their suspected exploitation of the “comical minority”. Though makes sense when they’re one of the biggest investors of today’s comedy. To be fair, for all his over-indulgence in DM-bashing, Stewart Lee doesn’t toe the line here.

In the past chapters, I’ve tried to illustrate my disgust at much of the paper’s editorial. And believe me, I’m genuine in doing so. However, this house is of the opinion that we need this paper just as much as we do the noble Guardian or Telegraph. For governments to remain moderate you need equal pressure on both sides of the political spectrum.

Amidst their attacks on public services and border control, the DM does in fact do an excellent job of holding our Government to account. And, although slightly more subjective, they make a case for diminished values that most would agree on preserving, and not just those who lived through rationing. Before his crowd rousing attack on the Daily Mail on Question Time, Mehdi Hassan called these out in a letter to Daily Mail Editor Paul Dacre some years earlier – a letter which effectively cut short his time as poster boy for the DM-bashing movement.

I really didn't want to have to rely on Daily Mail content, but as this is verbatim I don't think this serves as an endorsement
I really didn’t want to have to rely on Daily Mail content, but as this is verbatim I don’t think this serves as an endorsement

Incidentally when the letter was presented he bemoaned the fact that the Daily Mail had dragged up a 3-year old letter. Despite relying on history that spanned a much further reach than 3 years in his QT attack. To beggars belief, the guy can still be found on Twitter boasting about the views the video on Youtube is getting.

Most genuine vocal skeptics of the Daily Mail have the right heart in the right place, and I like to think the snobbish ignorant elite reside in the minority. However, this does not always make the majority anymore enlightened than the DM-readers they ambush.

Not too long ago, a very good friend of mine shared a graph on Facebook that indicated that benefit cheats sucked up a much smaller percentage of welfare spend than what is commonly perceived. He wasn’t the only one, as over 13,000 people had also shared the image within hours of its posting – it also contained instructions on disbelieving what the Daily Mail spouted. I enjoyed the sentiment, but couldn’t help notice that this was about people knowing the facts, and here were a significant number of people sharing an unsourced pie chart presumably put together on somebody’s lunch break. Despite the kind sentiment of the post, it was saddening to see not one person questioned its validity. Yet they were far more concerned about quoting George Carlin’s “Don’t just teach your children to read, teach them to question everything”, which ironically accompanied further info-graphics of unsourced and unfounded data with links to various other national newspapers.

People think they’re attacking the paper for its hate-mongering but really they’re attacking it for its point of view. Or even worse, they’re speaking on behalf of their favourite comedian, political commentator or other media institution. I suppose the latter is more likely, as if they’re not avid readers of the paper, they must be getting an update of its editorial from somewhere.

Take Twitter user Lee’s World, who according to his bio “likes country walks, cares about the vulnerable, hates bullies and right-wing media propaganda. I present fact”. He seems like my kind of guy. But his below tweet is all too popular a view held by those who see their choice of paper as a sign of universal enlightenment.

Image

In the last year he’s secured 6th place in the league table of the most common DM-reader bashing tweeters. But even influential speakers Owen Jones and Tom Watson MP (and co-author of Dial M For Murdoch) are happy to source smutty tabloids as long as they obey their standpoint.

Endorsing  other tabloids, but tabloids nonetheless
Endorsing other tabloids, but tabloids nonetheless

Could you honestly imagine a respected right-winger trying to make people take them seriously by addressing the crowds with “yeah, but according to The Sun…”

There’s an over reliance on newspaper content from both of the political spectrum and hysteria comes in equal measure. Like my current home feed, I’m sure yours is littered with links to certain news websites. Stephen Fry will tell you he doesn’t “read British newspapers of any kind”, but his Twitter feed is never too far away from a Guardian link.

Whatever side of the print media spectrum you are, you’d do a lot worse than ignore the words of a quick-witted Father and his tech-savvy Son

Image

However, just so we’re clear, I do confess to having personal reasons to be thankful for the Daily Mail that stems from an episode that almost financially ruined my family in the summer of 1993. Blur had just released the catalyst for Britpop in Modern Life is Rubbish, cinema audiences were being wowed by Schindler’s List and our household was facing bankruptcy to satisfy the demands of one of Britain’s most unscrupulous legal loop holes.

To cut a very long and bureaucratic story down, my parents used to run a shop selling childrens clothes and toys. Today it’d be nothing more than a pound-shop. After years of loss, they sold the lease onto a man who turned it into an Irish shop selling all things green, white and gold. Some months into the contract he disappeared off the face of the earth. Small print indicated that the last leaseholder was now obliged to fulfill the payments of the current MIA leaseholder. After a grueling court process, with things not looking good for our house and home, the Daily Mail got wind of it and ran our story complete with a sullen family portrait. The case was thrown out along with our family’s budding entrepreneurial spirit, and a new precedent was set. This may not have been possible without the Daily Mail spotlight.

As much of a great newspaper it is, The Guardian will busy themselves with life’s grander problems such as the Human Rights Act and Israel-Palestine, but I’ll always remember the helping hand the Daily Mail was prepared to lend to an ordinary, stuffy and unfashionable case such as an unscrupulous tenancy law. On this case study alone, I’d have to disagree to some extent that the paper “shows contempt for the weak” (Steve Coogan going further back to Newsnight, 13/10/2011).

We’re not the only ones to acknowledge the formidable role the paper can have in changing hearts and minds. For one, local newsagent Mr. Shah (b. 1957 Kolkata, India) believes that Steve Coogans argument that the “DM creates a vision of Little England…where corner shops are run by white people” is absurd; the Daily Mail sponsor his shop front. And although I too once joked that it was to stop skinheads from bricking his windows (another one there for Stuart Lee/Russell Howard), I will look to him over Tedious Intellectual Show-Offs for insight. His daughters addiction to the daily activities of the Kardashians is perhaps the reason MailOnline has overtaken the New York Times as the world’s most popular new site. She too doesn’t get the hysteria.

Perhaps the most tangible case for the paper’s right to exist was its edition printed on 14th February 1997, when they accused the suspects in the Stephen Lawrence case of guilt, thus challenging them to sue the paper if they were wrong. Following the recent conviction of Gary Dobson and David Norris, Mr. Lawrence spoke of the paper being the “biggest supporter for us over this story”. It was later named Campaign of the Year 2012 at the British Press Awards, following praise from journalists and Ed Milliband.

Again, really didn't want to use content direct from the DM...
Again, really didn’t want to use content direct from the DM…

Of course this is not to say this was an act of pure humanity and that selling newspapers was nothing to do with it, it does however serve as an example of how the paper can be a force for good. Stephen Fry accused them of jumping on the bandwagon as they only intervened “once the seeds of their decades of anti-immigration racism (read a 1960s or 1970s Daily Mail) have been sown”. Despite his Qi credentials, he evidently fails to understand there’s no mutual exclusivity between immigration concern and disgust at the racist murder of an innocent teenager.

Apart from the odd waiting room flick-through, lunchtime perv and research for this piece, I’ve never been much of a content advocate. But to some degree an advocate for its right to exist. Despite how some headlines are plain irresponsible, I still struggle to reiterate Alastair Campbell’s rhetoric that it’s the “most putrid product on our streets day after day”.

3. The Conclusion: A Bowl of Conflakes

"A Typical Daily Mail-Reader" - Image from The Guardian showbiz blogpost "Most Priceless Daily Mail Comment: have we a winner?"
“A Typical Daily Mail-Reader” – Image from The Guardian showbiz blogpost “Most Priceless Daily Mail Comment: have we a winner?”

There’ve been a number of events that have drove me to put a project together examining the stigma and comedic attacks that Daily Mail readers face everyday, and how such attacks are not only unoriginal but exhibit intolerance and snobbery of high order. But these events also demonstrated that people might be calling bullshit on all strands of media and their loyal readers, and not just the ones dictated by panel shows and guest-writers of the New Statesmen. The Future is bright.

Take a recent commute on the Metropolitan Line, somewhere between Finchley Road and Wembley Park, in a carriage full of pissed up Scots on route for a friendly with England. Typically not the place I’d expect to find some alternative free-thinking and certainly not from the lairy Scottish lady from East Fife leading the chorus. While chanting, swigging and ambushing anybody who didn’t join her in song, she lent special consideration for one middle-aged white Lady who sat defiantly reading her paperback.

“Oh look here, you enjoying your book Missy?” She asked [I’m not doing her accent] leering in “I bet you’re a very well to do Lady? And I bet you’re a good upstanding Guardian reader?” – this got a much louder cheer from her fellow fans than any rendition of I Would Walk 500 Miles.

The aged-Yuppie shrugged it off with nervous laughter and a seat further up the train. But I was more taken back by the term “Guardian Reader” being used with negative connotations, insinuating that anybody who isn’t up for drunkenly abusing commuters on public transport at 5.30pm on a Wednesday evening must be too prim and proper to understand real people, and therefore probably reads the Guardian. In chapter 2.1 of this project, “The Unoriginality of it all”, I suggested any comedian who uses Daily Mail readers as a polemic was as characterless as a Southerner who supports Man United. But a Guardian Reader getting abuse from somebody other than from Louise Mensch? I was intrigued by this person. Who is her influence? Who is Scottish Lady’s muse?

For the record, I don’t have a single newspaper of choice (in the days of the internet nobody should commit to one news source). However, disgusted at the news that Southbank skate park is earmarked for development into another Boris Building (you heard the term here first; tall, glass, hazardous to skyline and/or local heritage), I felt it appropriate to share a story from The Guardian on Facebook that emphasized the case against this happening. Though to add gravitas to the sincerity of my act, I did so with the caveat “I know every man and his dog feels the need to post links to The Guardian nowadays, but this is a good piece about a very sorry state of affairs”. Few days later I was congratulated by several free-thinkers for this approach, who too had felt somebody should say something. They also felt the same way about the Southbank proposals.

Are the tables turning? Will all the people who incessantly litter my Facebook feed with links to the left-wing press (contributing to the feudal system by enlightening the ignorant proletariat) soon be demonized and ridiculed for their over-reliance on one form of media, just as the Daily Mail readers have been before them? If this is the case, I wanted to be at the forefront of it. Will the gambit “well, according to The Guardian…” be met with the same set of rolling eyes?

Given comedians know their audience are predominantly young and receptive to multimillionaire comedic revolutionaries, it’ll take a while for this to filter through to the comedy stage, but as the inebriated Scottish Lady demonstrated the common football fan is quicker on the uptake.

It’ll be unlikely that all fractions of society will stop attacking the DM, and the above paragraphs only suggest that people are increasingly questioning all newspapers and readership personas. The attacks will unlikely dissipate, but using them as vehicle for alternative comedy will eventually wear out– given, some years too late.

But when it all kicked off during Daily Mail v Ed Miliband, the vast bulk of hysteric uproar was aimed at the paper and its editor Paul Dacre and not the readers, who I was pleased to see, were spared the majority of the onslaught.

Gordon Brown's former advisor Damien McBride
Gordon Brown’s former advisor Damien McBride

I think people, including Gordon Brown’s former advisor Damien McBride (though he appreciated the papers coverage of his infamous book), have realized how daft/damaging it is to smear a group of people for the paper they buy.

Another key milestone event that drove me to play devils advocate in defending the paper of Dacre took place during a conversation I had on New Years Eve 2013 atop the roof of an Islington houseparty. What was being billed as the first free-thinking conversation of the year (albeit just amongst the four us), one guy cracked a joke about the much-scoffed Daily Mail reader. Nobody laughed, which allowed me to fill the void with a monologue that described the unoriginality, snobbery and intolerance of his remark. Not a single person disagreed with me nor did anybody see fit to give this guy his comedic moment. I was surprised but inspired for this was New Labour heartlands, with an intellectually-rich audience on the side of my critique. The future is bright. Except maybe for the Tedious Intellectual Show-Off (TISO).

If we stop tweeting, retweeting and instinctively nodding with the inner circle posing as the proprietors of #donttrustmedia and the Second Enlightenment, and pay more attention to the grassroots champions of thought, we may just find the latter are on to something more applicable to the wider and greater good. Bash a news vendor for sure, but bash em’ all.

Right, now, where’s that remote control?

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