Monday, July 14, 2008

The politics of spanking, and other serious matters

Ignoring, for a while, the tiresome ephemera of foreign policy, European politics and the like, let us turn our attention to serious matters, namely Max Mosely's bottom. In case there are any readers who haven't yet seen said posterior, or at least read about it in salacious detail from any one of a hundred news reports, blogs and so on, there's not much of a story about it. Upper class Englishman enjoys being spanked, and also enjoys spanking girls' bottoms. It's not up there among the most surprising news stories of all time is it?
Spanking, and associated activities are indelibly linked to the English - the French know it as la vice Anglais. Victorian erotica is stuffed full of spankings and birchings and so on (apparently). You can try and psycho-analyse it if you like (locked away in boarding schools, the repressed English aristocracy came to associate punishment with pleasure as the only source of intimacy available and so on). Or you can say that sex is both fun and ridiculous, and frankly there are worse things you can do that get your bottom smacked.
Either way, it's neither peculiar or particularly unusual. However, it does make a great news story. The era of the smutty postcard and the Carry On films is not really gone, and one newpaper in particular embodies the puerile and salacious attitude towards sex and 'naughtiness' more than any other: the News of the World, or as Private Eye always calls it, the News of the Screws. It reports, with a generous mixture of fact and fiction, the sex lives of the rich and famous (and Big Brother contestants). It does so by bribing girls with loose morals and looser knicker elastic to snare footballers and TV presenters; it does so with hidden cameras and secret microphones; it does so with telephoto lenses: and it does so because the British love to read about bonking vicars and kinky childrens' television stars over Sunday breakfast.
It's a lovely story of breach of privacy, prurience and hypocrisy - all in pursuit of a story. And Mosley is suing, for breach of privacy. Now, it's hard to argue that this isn't a breach of privacy - it's not as if Mosley was bending over in the High Street - but the News of the World are arguing that this was a genuine story.
The newspaper's case was that the events were "truly grotesque and depraved", he added.
There is something marvellous about how hypocritical newspapers can be. The gleeful exposes of 'Tory sleaze', the outrage over MPs fiddling their expenses - all this was so hypocritical it made the eyes water. I rather doubt that the sex lives of Screws reporters are so puritanically spotless that none of them would qualify for the "grotesque and depraved" description.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Letters From A Tory said...

After I saw the title, I thought your post was going to be about Lembit Opik.

10:25 am  
Blogger Tim J said...

Now there's an image I really didn't need in my head.

4:26 pm  

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