The Daily Mail and I enter the Ricky Gervais ‘mong’ ‘debate’

I like most of the work of Ricky Gervais. The Office was a brilliant comedy in many ways – subtle, inventive, intelligent and above all it had an underlying tragic sensitivity that elevated it above your average comedy. The Office was an examination of how TV searches for people that will provide perfect rubber-necking TV. David Brent was the archetypal reality TV star – someone so ignorant of his own limitations that they could be easily edited into a bumbling, embarrassing incompetent by amoral TV executives. The point of The Office was that the documentary makers were inviting audiences not to laugh with David Brent, but to laugh at him and the show is frequently infamously cringe-worthy because of this. Essentially, the Office was actually a dark series about how TV executives could happily film a man teetering on the edge of a mental breakdown who gradually loses his job and dignity as the ‘documentary’ goes on because it makes ‘good’ TV. The series played on the fact that most people would still tune in and not even realise this – instead they happily mocked Brent just as the fake producers of the documentary show inside The Office knew they would.

One consequence of this is that now Gervais faces a lifetime of being asked to ‘do the dance’ by people who completely missed the point.

Most people don’t really think too much about TV, it seems. Most people might miss the subtle editing that reminds the audience that you’re not seeing David Brent the human being, you’re seeing David Brent the edited-for-good-TV version. One scene – for example – in the second series starts – very briefly – with the employees laughing along with Brent with real warmth and it is obvious that we have missed a moment when Brent was connecting with his staff. Brent’s new boss (or equal in the eyes of Brent) then makes a humorous introduction to the staff and Brent follows up with a floundering mess culminating in him doing a John Cleese goosestep whilst imitating Hitler. The Office is a comedy that requires the viewer to be aware that we are not viewing the whole scene, but rather the snapshots that are designed to set up Brent for a TV audience to poke fun at.

It is a theme that Gervais memorably returns to in Extras when during a powerful penultimate scene his character (Andy Millman) comments on the nature of celebrity and pseudo-celebrity TV shows when he has entered Big Brother and suddenly realises what he – and a significant part of TV has become:

fuck you, the makers of this show as well. You can’t wash your hands of this. You can’t keep going, “Oh, it’s exploitation, but it’s what the public want.” No, the Victorian freak show never went away. Now it’s called “Big Brother” or “American Idol,” where in the preliminary rounds we wheel out the bewildered to be sniggered at by multimillionaires. And fuck you for watching this at home. Shame on you.

The Office was the Victorian freakshow, where documentary makers wheeled out the bewildered David Brent so the audience could laugh at him as his life fell apart. The point of the Office was that David Brent wasn’t an evil man, he was simply a man unaware of his own limitations who desperately wanted to be significant (hence his belief that he was some kind of amazing comedian / philosopher who was having a positive impact on the world). He wanted to be liked and respected but his weakness (his lack of self-awareness) instead meant that he was vulnerable to be filmed, edited and put on display for the entertainment of millions who could mock him from the comfort of their own sofas.

The Victorian freakshow never went away.

And then we get to Science – screened recently on Channel 4 – which was weak, really weak. Gervais’ projects that have had a real heart and an intelligent subtlety have almost always – it seems to me – involved a significant role for Stephen Merchant, when Gervais is alone on a stage he just seems to revert to lowest-common-denominator comedy. It’s unfunnily ironic, considering that in Extras Gervais warns us about what good comedy can become when it is butchered for the mass-market – When the Whistle Blows (Millman’s sit-com in Extras) is an imagination of what The Office might have become had the BBC insisted on dramatic changes in order to make it appeal to a mainstream audience – people who Gervais and Merchant mock as knowing nothing about good comedy.

Science was tired stuff – I mean the amount of time spent basically mocking the fact that Noah couldn’t possibly fit two of every animal on the Ark through the use of a child’s book was amazingly lazy and weak – it has been done a million times before. It’s the kind of comedy sketch that has been done not by just comedians but pretty much anyone who has ever discussed the story of Noah with even the faintest whiff of worldy cynicism.

Anyway, that is of course not what the Daily Mail is complaining about and not, ultimately, the point of this blog post. Ricky Gervais pursued the ‘outraged response’ crowd by using the word ‘mong’ and then inviting people to not complain because that would be stupid because the word isn’t offensive anymore. Language evolves, seemed to be his point, and in isolation it is a fair one.

Language clearly evolves. There are tens, hundreds, thousands and possibly tens of thousands of examples of this that he could have picked to demonstrate his point. But he picked ‘mong’ simply because he knew this would get him the most attention. And it did. He has a standard faux-outrage (their outrage is false because they happily and frequently publish far more offensive things) article from the Daily Mail to hang on his wall of achievements – after all, anyone on the end of a Daily Mail attack can normally smugly know that they are not only right, but moral as well.

But I don’t think that is the case here. I don’t want to get into the whole argument about the word ‘mong’ because I think it is fairly clear to see that it is still used in a broad context to mock people with disabilities and others have already made this argument. What I want to point out is that Gervais’ Science show was obviously trying to portray itself as being intelligent comedy and Gervais’ response to the ‘mong’ debate on Twitter has been mocking – i.e. only stupid people are upset because they are not clever enough to understand what Gervais is doing.

But it wasn’t clever, it was just shit. We live in a period where language is being distorted and abused all of the time by our corporate and political overlords (see Unspeak by Steven Poole for example) and we’re currently staring into the abyss of the complete collapse of the capitalist system. If Gervais wanted to do intelligent comedy he doesn’t have a shortage of material. Instead he decided to treat us to his view of the recession – is it real? I’m rich so I don’t know – a bit where he uses mong to try to claim that it isn’t offensive at all, and that anyone who is offended by his use of it is just a stupid person because language evolves – as if he was making some deeply philisophical observation- and finishes with a lazy skit about how the story of Noah’s ark is a bit silly (as if we didn’t already realise that).

Basically, my point is this: Ricky Gervais is free to make lazy, unchallenging, unintelligent and tired lowest-common-denominator-comedy which he can sell to packed-out audiences, but what I object to is his attempt to package it as something more than that.

Science was not clever, nor was his point about the word ‘mong’ accurate or philisophical or remotely clever or even challenging comedy. It was just lazy and shit – as has his defence of it been (linking to one blogger who even claimed that those criticising him were just as bad as Hitler). Ricky Gervais can do clever comedy, what he cannot do is try to package shit comedy as intelligent comedy simply by being purposefully controversial.

UK Riots: the troubled search for meaning

Last night’s guest post has led to a few questions being asked on Twitter and on here as to why I published it.

Well, it was to make a point about the riots that continue to sporadically occur around the UK and our reaction to them. There has been much said on TV and radio, written in newspapers, on blogs and Twitter about why the riots are happening and the kind of person who might be taking part in them. I haven’t managed to form any opinion, because I really don’t know why this is happening (and I don’t wish to speculate).

One argument I hadn’t seen until a friend wrote the guest post last night was that the police were being purposefully ineffective in order to prepare for much stronger policing powers to respond to future protests. It is not a viewpoint I share, but the point is that people will take away from these riots a confirmation of their worldview or will interpret the riots to fit into the narratives that they hold dear.

Those who believe that we live in Broken Britain will see this as just more evidence, those who believe we have a feral youth will use this as proof, those who are racist (see Nick Griffin’s tweets) will blame black people directly or multi-culturalism as being responsible – indeed, several commenters on the Mail website have posted comments that this is the inevitable result of immigration and multi-culturalism.

What the guest post demonstrated is that you can mix convincing points with conspiracy-type theories quite easily which is why it is dangerous to read too much organisation or ideology as being behind these riots. Certainly the guest post makes valid arguments about the outcome of the riots – people do seem to be increasingly calling for tougher law and order, more wide-ranging police powers and the arrival of the army. It doesn’t follow that this was a purposeful tactic of the police or the state, the government might take advantage of it to increase our ‘security’ in the same way that New Labour used the fear of terrorism to curb the right to protest and reduce our civil liberties, but it doesn’t mean they actively let the rioting occur.

It is natural for us to what to make sense of any events, particularly when they are violent and chip away at the thin veneer of civilisation, but it does not follow that we can make any worthwhile conclusions or indeed see past our own established worldviews when analysing the riots. I don’t know the work of Alex Jones, but I see a lot of people have suggested even linking to him in a post has damaged the credibility of this blog because he is an ‘conspiracy theorist’. Which, again, is kind of proving my point. By all means dismiss the blog post because you have valid arguments against the case being put to you, but it isn’t enough just to dismiss it because it links to someone who you might think is a bit nuts.

I’m no fan of the faux-democracy that exists in Western countries, and I’m not a believer in the majority of narratives sold to us by a media that by-and-large has to put profit before truth but neither am I a fan of those who unthinkingly believe in conspiracy theories and have to take big leaps of faith in fitting events into their own system of beliefs.

But the point is: whatever analysis we apply to the riots will be severely tainted by our own worldview, expectations and narratives. It is unlikely, for most of us, that our interpretations or conclusions will be of any value – whether you believe the riots were the ultimate destiny of multi-culturalism or the machinations of a fascist state.

Mad as hell

We should be tearing down the current system; the world is a deeply unfair place in which a rich minority rule billions of people’s lives. But the system will not be destroyed with random looting or violence – which plays perfectly into the hands of those in power, who can simply enforce more powers to control ‘us’, and can say once more that we cannot be trusted with any freedom or input into how they run the world. No, we need to get angry and stop buying the shit that they are selling, to put down our TV remotes and spend some time using our brains to work out how we can make it a better world for everyone.

We need to sit down in front of our TV sets and use them for a while, instead of letting them use us. We can start by watching the 1976 film The Network:

What the world needs are millions of activists who do the one thing the system fears the most: think. This requires us to reject the endless stream of drivel we sit through on TV, the mindless websites we visit for inane stories about celebrities or the endless pursuit of more consumerist shit that we are led to believe is the answer to all of our problems.

We need to get mad as hell, but not like this.

Paul Dacre, Abuse and Defamation

As some of you might already be aware if you follow me on Twitter I received a rather dire warning from my webhosts today informing me that I had breached their terms and conditions. I immediately logged into my account to discover whether I had accidentally hosted any hardcore pornography or broken any superinjunctions. But no. It turns out some big and powerful lawyers working for Associated Newspapers had threatened my webhost and myself with legal action over an article I posted on my old blog way back in November 2009. You see, as much I try to write considered, thoughtful and sometimes philosophical posts occasionally I reveal the side of me that best represents the anger and frustration of constantly wading through the fetid mire of tabloid journalism, and the post that so upset the Daily Mail – part of Associated Newspapers – was one of these occasions.

You see I’m one of those lilly-livered liberal-lefties who kind of gets a bit annoyed when newspapers make stuff up about people with different colour skin just to appeal to the basest, most ignorant desires of their readership and this particular Mail article really pissed me off. So, naturally I wrote some unpleasant things about Paul Dacre because I assumed he’s the kind of tough-talking, thick-skinned adult that probably expects – editing the torrent of hatred that is the Daily Mail – to get a lot of stick. Indeed, this is the man who – according to Nick Davies in Flat Earth News – calls so many of his colleagues ‘cunts’ that his morning daily editorial meetings were given the name ‘The Vagina Monologues’.

But sadly, currently using Google to search for ‘Paul Dacre’ reveals my lowly little blog post as the second result:

Paul Dacre must die

And the lawyers for Associated Newspapers decided that the above blog post was ‘material which is seriously abusive and defamatory of Mr Dacre’. Hence they felt the need to rush off an email to my webhost giving them 3 working days to remove the offending article or face being taken to court – an event they kindly illustrate with a case ‘which ultimately resulted in a six-figure settlement’. I un-published the post immediately to placate my Webhost and Tweeted about it. Thanks to a lot of advice both on and off the record I slowly began to realise – along with a little bit of reading up on what constitutes defamation – that their threat was utterly hollow and that abuse in itself is not libellous (hence the continued ‘writing’ career of Richard Littlejohn who abuses the living and libels only the dead). It was the idle threat of a bully that knows it is too rich and too powerful to be challenged by an individual like myself who will choose to remove the article rather than invite them to sue and see where we all end up.

In the end, thanks to choosing a UK webhost, the decision is not really mine to take, the webhost has nothing to gain by defending me and everything to lose, they will simply point to their Terms and Conditions which cover no defamation / libel and will suspend your account if needs be. I understand their position, they are effectively hamstrung by a legal system that favours the powerful.

Anyway, putting that aside, let’s just take a few seconds to consider what I actually wrote. Firstly, you can read the post here because it has been cached by Google and logged by others on Twitter (thanks to therealsim_o for this). Secondly, you can read this post by Unity over at Ministry of Truth who goes through the post bit-by-bit and concludes that:

In short, there seems to be next to fuck all in Kevin’s article to warrant a claim of defamation – abuse, of itself, is not defamatory – if it were, then Dacre would, based on his reputation, spend half his life defending actions for slander from his own employees.

Having put what I wrote into context, I can now give you some clues on what is and isn’t defamation by looking at some of the stuff that the Daily Mail prints and can provide you with some simple tips to avoid receiving such scary emails in future:

  1. Be a well-paid columnist for the Daily Mail. Take Richard Littlejohn for example. He can call Gordon Brown a ‘sociopath’ and provide a list of ‘evidence’ including that he displays ‘Glibness and superficial charm; manipulative and cunning… Grandiose sense of self and entitlement… Pathological lying; absence of remorse, shame or guilt; callousness and lack of empathy… Authoritarian; secretive; paranoid; narcissism; grandiosity; an over-inflated belief in their own powers and abilities… Prone to rage and abuse; outraged by insignificant matters.’ and so on. If you are well-paid columnist this is not abuse or defamation; it is ‘opinion’. Indeed it is the kind of stuff we should all cherish as a wonderful example of a free press.
  2. Don’t mention individuals stupid! If you want to do a good ol’ bit of defaming pick a big group of people that you can just slag off in its entirety. Say like gypsies or immigrants, then it’s fair game. Go on, check with the Press Complaints Commission, they’ll tell you that yes: being hateful towards one named immigrant and you’ll get a slapped wrist (sort of, the PCC doesn’t really have enough power to do even that) but just slag off every single immigrant in one go and the PCC will give you a big thumbs up and possibly a badge.
  3. Don’t pick on on the kind of hypocrite that – for example – runs a national newspaper bemoaning the sexualisation of society whilst at the same time arguing against privacy laws that prevent him from reporting on ‘acts of unimaginable sexual depravity’ (which is, by the way,  bit of an oxymoron. How can they be ‘unimaginable’ if you are certain they actually took place?). Or who fights for the right for the press to be free of fines (i.e. stick with the powerless PCC exactly as it is now) and scrap no-win, no-fee libel cases because they don’t like being sued for honest mistakes or what in most cases is simply being caught making stuff up. Don’t pick on him because it seems to me that this sort of person would have no hesitation using the libel laws he finds so restrictive when they are aimed at his newspaper.

I think the main lesson is: don’t criticise the critics because they only like to dish it out. Dacre’s argument for invading the privacy of Max Mosley was that he was kind of in the public eye and had been up to no good, therefore invading his privacy to break the story was justifiable. Well, surely Mr Dacre is just as much in the public eye as Mr Mosley and certainly Mr Dacre holds substantially more influence and power. So why does he not expect – when he edits a newspaper recently described by John Bercow as a ‘sexist, racist, bigoted, comic cartoon strip’ (I wonder if Mr Bercow received a nice letter from the Associated News lawyers?) – to receive public scrutiny for what he does and the kind of insults that I aimed at him way back in 2009?

Whatever insults I could write here now aimed at Paul Dacre would always pale into utter insignificance when compared to the carefully constructed and energetically maintained media narratives about immigrants, single mothers, the public sector, asylum seekers, gypsies, gays and the disenfranchised in general that the Daily Mail has printed under his stewardship. My feeble words – which were only really a demonstration of how little recourse we have against institutions like the Daily Mail, so all we are left with is to wish those in charge of this offensive mess an early death – result in a threatening letter. Whilst Mr Dacre continues to exist as a highly-paid editor.

I think what bothers me most about Paul Dacre – and this applies to a lot of the Mail writers as well – is just what a coward he is. It’s that expectation that the Daily Mail can print the most horrific, made-up shit just to sell a few copies and stoke the fires of Middle-England rage and if anyone doesn’t like it they’ll just send out threatening letters. It’s Paul Dacre’s insistence that the PCC really works and that any criticism comes from people who are too stupid to understand how it works. Paul Dacre, chairman of the PCC’s Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, edits the newspaper that consistantly breaches the code more than any other newspaper, yet he still insists that the PCC works.

If freedom of the press exists then it should extend to all writers. As the Daily Mail – and most of the mainstream press – have demonstrated over-and-over again the informal code of ethics followed by most bloggers is incomparably superior to the moral vacuum in which most journalists exist, yet somehow the official label of being a ‘journalist’ somehow gives you the freedom without any of the responsibility.

Anyway, that was a disorganised ramble, so let’s try and wrap things up. I guess what I’m trying to say is that a lot of people think Paul Dacre is a piece of shit, not everyone wishes him an early death and a few people probably think I was stupid or going too far by even writing it. However, let’s not pretend it was libellious. It was just a frustrated insult aimed at someone who I see as being at the heart of a very evil newspaper, but someone whom the general populace is powerless to challenge because he will not engage with us.

A slight return

OK. So its been a while. I seem to sit thinking about writing quite a lot, but then the reality hits me that I have millions of things I want to get straight in my mind and onto this blog in a way that makes sense both to myself and to whomever might stumble across this blog on their Internet travels. Right now I just don’t have the energy to manage that, hence I have not actually managed to post even a simple blog post, until now.

Basically, I have read a lot of stuff lately and looked into quite a few things and I have come to the conclusion – and this is written in absolute seriousness – that humanity is on the brink of absolute catastrophe. Sadly, I have also come to the conclusion that very few people are either aware of this fact or care about it. Instead the vast majority of mankind (I exclude the billions starving in absolute poverty here – they are victims of this culture) are just happy to pretend that it’s business as usual as they scrabble with selfish abandon for a few of the last scraps that a depleted planet can cough up.

Peak oil, peak soil, global warming, mass deforestation, the almost global depletion of fresh water supplies and the almost complete annihilation of fish stocks and marine life in general is all driven by the only supposed solution to our current economic problems (which are all self-inflicted inventions because money isn’t real) is increased consumption (growth) – which simply means using more of the stuff that we are quickly running out of. It’s absolute madness, but few seem to care or even be aware of any of the massive problems that we are facing without solutions, without political will (or even a vague understanding), popular support or global collaboration.

So when I sit here and look at what the vast bulk of our media is churning out day-after-day I find it hard to put into words how angry it makes me. I just try to imagine what our children or grandchildren – if they manage to survive in the world that we are creating, and in some ways have already created – will think of us when they look back at what we did as humanity stood on the brink of collapse.

What will we tell them?

Will we tell them that we didn’t know, or that we knew but thought that somehow everything would be OK? Would we tell them it wasn’t our fault and that if TV hadn’t melted our minds with endless forensic crime dramas, celebrity-based drivel (‘Watch as we give 5 celebrities the chance to be traffic wardens for the day!’ ‘Tonight: 5 celebrities cook an egg – LIVE ON TV!’ etc), talent shows that are part freak show, part private record company auditions and all the other vacuous drivel that people sit through, hour-after-hour, day-after-day, year-after-year. Would we tell them that it wasn’t our fault because the media kept us in the dark? They said climate change wasn’t real. They said the oil wasn’t running out, they said all this world-being-destroyed stuff was just made up by a evil liberal elite that just wanted to tax you more. Oh how ignorant we will seem with our endless campaigns to bring back the weekly bin collection and scrap those nasty wheelie bins.

Why did we ignore the scientists, who tried to warn us?

Will we have to explain that back in our day scientists had become one of two things:

  1. evil, atheist liberals who were merely toeing a particular line in the pursuit of more funding or
  2. laughable ‘boffins’ who were regularly in the media for all the wacky and pointless things they got up to like inventing things that could boil the perfect egg or investigating the female orgasm.

Our dominant collective media is a sick joke that is reflected in the anti-science, anti-evidence agenda that is increasingly being pursued in parliament – embodied by MPs like Nadine Dorries who seem to believe that their own prejudices and ignorance are a perfectly sound base for government legislation. Instead, such ignorance – built up in the echo-chamber of media moral panic – leads to idiots like Reg Bailey being thought qualified to do something other than stand in the street handing out leaflets about Jesus and telling passers-by how they should repent before it’s too late. Our political agenda is dominated by morons and helped by an equally moronic press.

The truth is, if we carry on the way we are as a species things are not going to be OK. It is that simple.

We cannot blame the media for everything. Sure, they feed us a diet of lies, distortions and celebrity-based drivel. OK, they only ever editorialise about insignificant shit like how it was very nasty of Mr Giggs to try and stop them raking over his love life and how it’s about time we threw all the wheelie bins off a huge cliff and replaced them with our own personal dustman who we just threw our rubbish at.

But we’re the ones who lap it up. If we didn’t buy this shit, they wouldn’t print it. If we try and absolve ourselves of blame when our grand children start asking some searching questions about just what the hell you were doing when humanity was finishing the complete destruction of the planet by claiming we were too busy, how is that going to look? We were too busy to read up on the problems facing us and how we could take action to make a change, but we did have time to buy a newspaper detailing the lives of people we don’t even know? We were too busy to lift ourselves out of ignorance, but we did have time to watch those lovely celebrities on Strictly Come Dancing every week?

And yes, to any readers who happen to think that the planet is just fine and that we should all just carry on regardless la-la-la: yes, I agree, the planet will be just fine – whatever we do to it – but that doesn’t mean it will we still be around to enjoy it. There is a big difference between ‘destroying the planet’ and simply making it uninhabitable for 9 billion people.

Anyway. That is why I haven’t been posting lately. I’m too depressed. Too tired of wading through reams of insignificant bullshit printed by a media – a world in fact – that can only see as far as the bottom line.

In memory of Bill Hicks

The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly coloured and it’s very loud and it’s fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question: “Is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, “Hey, don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we kill those people.

Ha ha “Shut him up.” “We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut him up. Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and my family. This just has to be real.” Just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. Jesus mudered; Martin Luther King mudered; Malcolm X murdered; Gandhi murdered; John Lennon murdered; Reagan…. wounded. But it doesn’t matter because: It’s just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love.

The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defences each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.

Bill Hicks, December 16, 1961 – February 26, 1994. Gone, but never forgotten.

Would you like to work for the Daily Mail?

I have been aware that the Daily Mail were about to recruit some new journalists via Twitter and the advert amused me, but I couldn’t quite decide what to do with it. Then The enemies of reason applied for the job in a wonderfully mocking manner and I now see that this is the way forward. We all need to apply for this job in the same style, explaining just how we understand what they are looking for and how we are willing to hand over our souls on a platter for the pay cheque on offer. Here is the advert – printed in the Guardian no less, this must be one of the ‘non-jobs’ that the Mail constantly complains about in the Guardian:

Daily Mail

  • Britain’s most successful newspaper group is offering would-be reporters and writers an exciting and challenging yearlong training course, plus the chance to work at the Daily Mail and Mail Online
  • We are looking for bright, sharp, intelligent writers who believe they can be fast-tracked to the very top
  • You’ll be on the best journalism course in the business – and be paid a competitive salary while you train
  • Successful applicants will probably have completed post-graduate journalism training or had experience working in newspapers

Apply by February 21, with your CV, 200 words on why you think you could be a Mail journalist, a 200-word news story and a selection of up to six cuttings and send to Sue Ryan, Trainee Reporters’ Scheme, Daily Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry St, London W8 5TT. Please send queries to sue.ryan@dailymail.co.uk

So, let’s all send Sue Ryan 200 words to try and convince her that we can be the next moral vacuum hiding behind The Daily Mail Reporter as we explain that the ink in newspapers gives you cancer and that the man next door is probably going to rape and kill your children. Let me be so bold as to post my 200 words here, which I will email to Sue just as soon as this blog is posted.

Dear Sue,

I am writing about the prospect of a year’s training with the Daily Mail and the chance to become a star within the Mail group.

Obviously, you would like to know my credentials. Well, for my sins I read the Daily Mail and I visit Mail Online so I am more than aware of the kind of skills needed to be a big hit:

  1. Being related to a current member of staff. Granted, I am not related to a current member of staff, but I did once tweet Georgina Littlejohn on Twitter – does this count?
  2. I have eyes, I can see whether a celebrity has lost or gained weight.
  3. I have hands, I can relay above information to your reader via the medium of the written word – should the accompanying 14 photos not illustrate the point forcefully enough.
  4. Being an avid reader I know that the Mail group really hates immigrants, foreigners in general, gays, women, science. Hell, let’s face it, I know that in order to write for the Mail I must hate everything post 1950 apart from Mail Online. I don’t of course, but then I imagine I wouldn’t be the only writer in your organisation crying themselves to sleep every night over what they have done with their lives.
  5. I used to live in Devon, amongst country folk. I have no stories of interest relating to this, but I understand that Liz Jones earns a fair whack and neither does she?
  6. My local council have given me two wheelie bins, as well as recycling bags and a kitchen waste bin which has to be kept in the kitchen. I think this qualifies me to write about 1/3 of your daily output – and it certainly makes me more qualified that a certain Mr Richard Littlejohn who – living in Florida – can only scratch the surface of the angst faced by the real, everyday, all-year-round wheelie bin sufferers.

Obviously before I can accept your offer I would want to clarify one thing; in your advert you state that ‘bright, sharp, intelligent writers who believe they can be fast-tracked to the very top’ and this really worries me. You see, having read the output of your highest-paid, most ‘succesful’ writers, I can only conclude that such a fast-track scheme is only interesting in promoting the most delusional, inane, dishonest, repetitive and frankly appalling writers (I mean, seriously, have you ever read a Melanie Philips column and thought: ‘My, hasn’t she a got a firm grasp of reality.’ Or: ‘You know what, Peter Hitchens is right, women are entirely to blame for absolutely everything. EVERYTHING.’ Or: ‘Isn’t Richard Littlejohn brave, attacking all of those disenfranchised minorities using Dad’s Army as a clever comic vehicle. Again.’?)

Hopefully you can clarify this point before making me a formal offer.

Yours Faithfully,

Kevin

PS. I know this is more than 200 words, but come on, it’s not like you’ve got any standards for your published journalists, is it?


I invite you to write your own application. Feel free to add it to the comments here, or post it on your own blog and then link from the comments. Share this via Twitter. See if we can give the Mail more applicants than they expected. Who knows, one of us might get a job out of this. Good luck – you could be the next Richard Littlejohn (the money is certainly good).

The 10 O’Clock show

A new live show starring a ‘supergroup‘ of talent – David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Jimmy Carr and Lauren Laverne – is being launched tonight on Channel 4 at 10pm (obviously). It is supposed to be a serious satirical news / politics show and is live to encourage people to get involved via Twitter – you can follow the show here – and amusing / intelligent tweets may get featured on the show.

I just thought this show might appeal to you, so thought I would point it out in case you had missed it. I shall be watching it and tweeting the odd thing, you can follow me on Twitter here.

Plugging

From the excellent Football365’s Mediawatch today:

Mediawatch was slightly confused about an interview with Tony Mowbray in The Daily Mirror this morning.

Interviews don’t usually start with a discussion of the subject’s literary habits, but this particular article kicks off thusly:

‘Tony Mowbray patted the book on his desk and said: “I used to have a dog called Shankly for 13 years, beautiful golden lab.” Boro’s manager is seeking inspiration, while warning hard times at Middlesbrough could get worse before they get better.

‘”I’m reading about Bill Shankly and Alex Ferguson,” he says. “Heroes of mine. Working class roots, dug from the same coal pit, those two. Managers for the people.”

‘The title of the tome is: “If You’re Second, You are Nothing,” but Mowbray would probably love to contemplate such a lofty position.’

Odd that a book is given such a prominent plug in a national newspaper.

Not so odd, however, when you learn the author of said book is one Oliver Holt, chief sports writer for The Daily Mirror.