The Daily Mail may just be one of the most hated institutions in Britain, if not the world.
People seem to detest it with every fibre of their being. I know I did. That is, until I realised there’s no way you’re meant to take it seriously as a source of information or take the articles seriously as products of actual journalism. Of course not. That would be ridiculous. I have come to the realisation that it is, in fact, entirely satirical.
After years of The Mail driving me to anger and frustration I’ve finally found that the only reasonable explanation is that it is actually a parody of right-wing media. This explains why it’s full of great comic characters such as Richard Littlejohn and Melanie Phillips. Once you understand the jokes, it’s really quite funny. The ridiculous stance on immigration, once you get the satire is pretty hilarious. The same goes for the hypocrisy of how it complains about the Muslim community not integrating whilst it prints page after page of Islamophobia which could only put someone off wanting to integrate.
Having a section of the website named ‘Femail’ which is devoted to news for women as if their pretty little heads wouldn’t be able to cope with the real news is clearly a great parody of 19th Century attitudes. Since coming to the conclusion that The Daily Mail is a brilliant satirical publication parodying the right I’ve found it far easier to stomach.
Take the recent scandal involving The Mail running an article on the late Ralph Miliband with the headline, ‘The Man Who Hated Britain’. A newspaper that, as Medhi Hasan and Nick Clegg pointed out, spends the vast majority of its pages spewing hatred for almost every aspect of modern Britain berating a now deceased Belgian refugee who fought for the Royal Navy during WWII for hating Britain is quite obviously ridiculous. Surely there is no possible way that such a story could be published without some sort of awareness of the hypocrisy of it. But of course the writers and editors at The Mail knew all too well that it was absolutely absurd, hence why it was published. A scything piece of satire on right-wing hypocrisy.
This also explains why in the middle of the following fairly large media shit-storm the editor of The Mail, Paul Dacre, was nowhere to be seen. This is because addressing the issue in a rational manner would be to act like a reasonable human being, which for Dacre would mean breaking from his carefully crafted comic character of a hate churning, cold-blooded, soulless piece of work who we all love to hate. You’ve got to admire his commitment really.
Although Dacre isn’t the only one with a well constructed comic character. There is of course the old fan favourite, the ever ignorant Richard Littlejohn, or at least he plays ignorant. Some time after the gay marriage bill was passed Littlejohn wrote a piece insinuating that Cameron was gay for wanting to promote gay marriage. Imagine a real professional journalist trying to make that argument. Hilarious. Or Littlejohn pretending to be oblivious to The Mail’s agenda of intolerance by writing a piece complaining about the politics of hate amongst left-wingers. A riotous bit of satire.
These comic characters aren’t only the preserve of the writers for The Daily Mail though. The comments section allows readers to get involved in the jokes too. ‘Ghost’ from London came out with a great one-liner the other day, ‘Yeahhhhh, congratulations, DM. Never hesitate to show all left wing people how stupids they’re’ [sic]. Gwenneth from Dartford also got involved with this punchy gag on an article about gay marriage, ‘Big error! Forcing our dear Queen to agree when she probably does not’ apparently valuing the Queen’s assumed personal bigotry over democracy. Good one Gwen.
What’s even more impressive is how these parodies have spilled over to the real world in the form of a satirical performance art troupe known as UKIP. Their leader, Nigel Farrage, has made for himself a character apparently based on ‘Only Fools and Horses’’ Del-boy. He goes around professing to be a man of the people even though he can’t go to a pub in Scotland without being locked in by a group of protestors, and here’s the punch line, he then accused them of being xenophobic. Outrageous, Nigel.
Then there’s his sidekick, Godfrey Bloom, the Rodney to his Del-boy, the Laurel to his Hardy, the Paul Chuckle to his Barry Chuckle. Bloom was made famous for his ‘Bongo-bongo land’ catchphrase but was recently kicked out by Farage, presumably for upstaging him with his recent antics at the party conference. After calling a room full of women sluts he then proceeded to call a news reporter racist for pointing out there was not one non-white face in the UKIP party pamphlet. The old switcheroo gag there. He then proceeded to hit the reporter around the head with said pamphlet in a cheeky bit of slapstick. Perhaps Farage thought that the comedy was getting a bit too farcical at that point, although he’s not normally one to keep the satire subtle.
Regrettably, this isn’t really the case. The writings in The Mail and the ramblings of UKIP aren’t just for laughs. They’re all unfortunately real people, saying what I suspect they might actually believe. It certainly would be nice if it did all turn out to be one of the most committed pranks of all time. The world would be saved a lot of frustration and anger. That which is experienced by readers and directed towards The Mail’s victims and that which is experienced by people like me who struggle to cope with the fact that people believe what is written in The Mail and live their lives based upon its rhetoric of hate and intolerance.