This morning I paid a visit to the corner shop to get some milk, bread and Marlboro Lights. As usual, I made a beeline for the fish ‘n’ chip paper rack and scanned the headlines. The one on the Daily Mail jumped out at me:
Holy shit, I thought, it must be Election Day in the US. Had I really overslept by a week? Of course, it wasn’t and I hadn’t. The Daily Mail headline – in fact, the front page story on every tabloid, broadsheet and freesheet this morning – wasn’t about the US elections, the violence in Congo or anything really important. It was about two famous blokes who get paid a lot of money to be rude, obnoxious and controversial getting into a lot of trouble for being rude, obnoxious and controversial.
I quite like Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, but on this occasion I think they acted like a pair of thoughtless and sadistic eejits. Broadcasting a series of lewd messages left on a 78 year-old veteran comedy actor’s answermachine is not what you might call best foot forward behaviour. Of course, the production team didn’t help matters. They might have been trying to repackage Derek and Clive for the iPod generation, but I’m sure the producers of Ad Nauseam and Come Again were savvy enough to keep Pete and Dud away from the telephones.
I hate to think that I agree with anything the Daily Mail has to say, but I do think its right and proper to treat older people with a modicum of respect. I suspect, however, that the relentless media shitstorm they’ve kicked off has less to do with respect for our elders than it has to do with feeding our atavistic resentment towards highly successful people. I guess that means that I can carry on respecting old people, then.
In any case, the next time high profile iconoclasts feel compelled to piss off the Daily Mail by verbally abusing a senior citizen might I suggest they pick on a target that’s a bit more deserving than Manuel from Fawlty Towers? Perhaps, say, a ruthless military dictator, a power hungry press baron or maybe even a former prime minister.
There’s plenty of names that spring to mind.