Friday, 18 January 2013

Daily Mail: Context Is All

The above shot of a headline in today's Daily Mail is being much tweeted on Twitter right now.
Boo hiss! etc.
Fair enough, it does looks pretty shitty and anti-gay.
And it's in the Daily Mail - historically no friend of ours.
But as ever, context is all.
Reading the article - not just the headline (which journalists rarely write) - I don't think Tom Utley meant it to be read that way.
He makes a passing reference to how his wife gave him a new jumper for Christmas;

A smart grey V-necked job, which she told me I could wear under my suit to make my cigarette breaks on the pavement outside the office more bearable.
I was touched — until I read this week that the Teachers Foundation of Malaysia has issued guidance to parents, telling them that if their son wears a V-neck sweater, this is a sure sign he may be gay.
Perhaps my wife is trying to tell me something...

It was a joke surely, based on a story the Mail ran on Wednesday. 

'If your son likes wearing v-neck jumpers it's a sign he's gay': Bizarre advice given to parents by Malaysian government

Mr Utley was presumably mocking the silliness of the supposed Malaysian edict - and of stereotyping in general. *
It might have gone down well at a north London dinner party attended by similar social "sophisticates", but just looks pretty off in the pages of the Daily Mail, surrounded by Richard Littlejohn, Melanie Phillips, Andrew Pierce et al.
If you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas and that.

* Don't think this is as reported, the article even says in the small print it's not something that's come from the Malaysian government.
Fits the usual Orientalist/racist "funny backward foreigners" box, though.
And anyway, if you want to read anti-gay stereotype-based balls, just buy the Daily Mail.

PS The below cutting via Equality Network today. Though oddly it appears to only be in the Mail's Scottish edition, and they haven't put it online.
For shame?


  1. Bit of news recycling going on at the Mail. The story has been around at least since last September.