Guardian Linked To Racist Journalism

The phrase “linked to” is a favourite among the architects of moral panics. Marijuana was linked (back in the day) to black men raping white women. In more recent times, Ecstasy and various other safe drugs have been linked to (mostly invented) deaths. It is a favourite tool of tabloid journalism – claim ice cream is linked to gang violence and – Lo And Behold – it is! Because you just linked it.

In its endless descent into the journalistic gutter, the Guardian has adopted such tools too, such as its recent article Online trolling of women is linked to domestic violence, say campaigners. The Graun is, at least, smart enough to add “say campaigners” to the headline, so that when one points out that the claim is utterly baseless, the editor can respond: “we were just reporting what they said”.

This isn’t just sloppy journalism. The Guardian has long been militating for increased censorship of the Internet, and since it still maintains the pretence of supporting free speech, it must find online harm at every turn.

The Guardian itself appears to be becoming increasingly censored, especially on anything related to sex. What had originally seemed like the work of a few puritan journalists now seems to be official editorial policy. A series of good journalists have published ludicrously flimsy anti-sex articles. Not being privy to the internal workings of the organisation, I wonder what has been going on at Graun HQ. Does Julie Bindel stand over every journalist’s desk with a gun until she or he has produced yet another denunciation of “sexualisation” or “pornification”?

This feeling of a pro-censorship conspiracy is not just speculation: in her book The Sex Myth the sex worker/blogger/author/researcher Brooke Magnanti reveals that, after she won the Guardian’s 2003 blogger of the year award, a group of female Guardian journalists jointly threatened to resign if she was offered a column in the newspaper. Her crime was to present her sex work as a choice, and to refuse to label herself a victim, in strict contravention of Guardian editorial policy on sex work.

The Guardian’s hatred of any sexual expression is becoming so strong that the normally-PC paper is prepared to stray into the realm of racism where necessary. I’ve blogged previously about the jaw-dropping 2009 “white man’s porn is making black men into rapists” article by Tim Samuels.

Not to be outdone, Hadley Freeman (another once-sane journo who appears to have succumbed to the Curse of Guardian Towers) was enraged by Miley Cyrus’s recent twerking episode at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Her rage (of course) is primarily about open displays of sexuality: “she copied the dance moves of strippers” (but I know strippers who dance very well – what’s the problem?) and “female celebrities will one day feel that they don’t need to imitate porn actors” (all sexual expression is porn, and porn is bad, m’kay?)

Freeman tries to dress up her anti-sex rage as concern about racism, and digs herself a deep hole in the process. She casually drops in the fact that she has lived in the Notting Hill Carnival area for 12 years, which is kind-of like saying “I have black friends, you know”. I grew up a couple of miles north of Notting Hill, and while it was once a heavily Caribbean area, it had gentrified long before Freeman moved in.

She appears to be outraged that Cyrus had black backing singers: “a young wealthy woman from the south doing a garish imitation of black music and reducing black dancers to background fodder”. They are “fodder” in Freeman’s eyes anyway: to me, they are dancing beautifully, as only women of African origin can, and helping distract from the fact that Cyrus can’t dance. She refers to the event as a “minstrel show”. Other than banning black backing dancers from shows with white lead performers, it’s unclear what remedy Freeman would like to see.

She has fallen into the trap awaiting “progressive” middle-class puritans: dance and music originating in sub-Saharan Africa have always been far more overtly sexual than those originating in Europe. The overtness of African sexual expression offends the sensibility of European prudes, just as it offended (and titillated) European colonialists in Africa, who insisted that shameful African nudity was covered up.

Black music now dominates Western popular music forms. Not because (as Freeman suggests) whites are guilty of “cultural appropriation”, but simply because it is better, and it has come to dominate the meme-pool. It is hard to imagine what Western music and dance would be like today without African influences.

Freeman, of middle-class Jewish-American roots, educated in English boarding school and then Oxford, did not grow up around black culture. Like many privileged whites who grew up surrounded by privileged whites, she is discomfited by it, and all the Oxford education in the world cannot help her formulate linguistic tricks that adequately hide that fact.

The icing on the cake is that Freeman wraps up her bizarre articulation of dislike for black sexual expression in Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. King dreamed of a racially mixed world, but Freeman dreams of a world without strippers, porn and black backing dancers. What a sad, decaf, Euro-centric, Guardian-approved world that would be.

17 thoughts on “Guardian Linked To Racist Journalism”

  1. While Cyrus will never have the impact that Elvis had the attack by parts of the media about the blackness of the performance and the sexuality of it is similar. Ask the press now how they would report Elvis and you would never hear them admit to cultural appropriation. Yet sections of the media in the 1950s’ wrote along those lines without the long name tag. Do the Graun believe that White middle class media in the 1950s had it right?

    Judith Lynne Hanna an expert on dance has long backed the sexualisation of dance and I am a great fan of her work The fact she examines the links between dance and society and shows that to dance is human. Still the graun has to please its’ senior journos and they all have their agendas.

  2. The comparison with rock & roll is a good one. This from the Wikipedia page: “The coming together of white youth audiences and black music in rock and roll inevitably provoked strong white racist reactions within the US, with many whites condemning its breaking down of barriers based on color.”

    Which fits the “OMG white girls are twerking!!!” attitude.

    1. The other aspect of this is Cyrus’ Disneyfied past (maybe the Graun should start a campaign against Disneyfication?), which means some of the people are campaigning against an imagined change of personality. Disney ain’t real, folks (and Walt was by all accounts a singularly unpleasant individual).

      It’s also fair to point out that virtually every “new” musical genre (and plenty of other “new” things) has in its time been criticised for “encouraging drug taking/sexuality/cross dressing/homophobia/eating rabbits/refusing apple pie (OK, I made the last 2 up). Not much new under the sun there.

      It seems odd that a paper which has published, and (rightly in my view) given great prominence to the Snowden and Wikileaks revelations should be trying to censor the internet in this way: the internal contradictions are glaring.

      I do think the increased pressure for 24 news has lead to a lowering of journalistic standards generally (too many press releases are published as news, for example), and the Grauniad is not immune. The worst offender is probably the BBC (although that also has much to do with Gilligan/Hutton). The link below is to a book called Flat Earth News (excerpts only: they want you to pay for the whole book!), which goes into some detail on how news gathering works. Looks interesting.

      http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=U2E79Pq0ZDwC&pg=PA413&lpg=PA413&dq=observer+coverage+of+queen+mothers+death+flat+earth&source=bl&ots=wqkA9YaiQb&sig=YstvTvJGW8jB4yTtEmEw3y1t0HU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=i8diUYaKBsOQ0AWFz4D4BQ&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=observer%20coverage%20of%20queen%20mothers%20death%20flat%20earth&f=false

      1. Good comment. Amusingly, it’s not just her Disneyfied past that seems to upset people, but the fact she was a child star. “She was a child and now she’s sexual”!! Shock horror.

        Yeah, new music is always the portent of the downfall of society – especially if it involves non-whites. Hip hop, of course, has been threatening to destroy civilisation for decades. Here in the UK, we had our own mini-scare about the garage scene, because (supposedly) once, a gun was fired at a garage rave.

        Flat Earth News is an excellent (but depressing) book. Worth the price.

        1. Don’t you mean if it’s “linked to” non whites?!? Surely, most popular “white” music (I don’t like this term, but can’t think of a better shorthand) derives from some music of black origin (as the awards have it)? Whether it be blues (ask the Rolling Stones how much they owe to Muddy Waters, and I’m just about old enough to remember the outrage the Stones caused), soul, hip hop, reggae.

          And the hippies caused plenty of outrage too (listen to Neil Young’s Ohio for an account of the Kent State University police shootings, for example). Here’s a link to the lyrics if it’s not your thing

          http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/neilyoung/ohio.html

          And yes, people do die from taking illegal drugs. The numbers are dwarfed by those who die from legal drugs, though.

          And there have always been people at music festivals with guns: I’ve seen one pulled in a toilet at a rock festival by a Hell’s Angel who thought it was funny.

          I agree about Flat Earth News, but (at least in terms of body count) it’s not nearly as depressing as Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation.

  3. The worst part of this isn’t uptight, white “Left” (but really American-style “love me, love me, I’m a Lib-er-al” journalists) being racist. At this point we expect uptight, roundhead type puritanism from those types. No. The worst part was reading denunciations of Miley’s “cultural appropriation” from black writers who should know better.

    There is a certain amount of understandable resentment among blacks that their forms of cultural expression don’t seem to become culturally mainstream until they are picked up by whites. I remember Arsenio Hall’s rant against “Vanilla Ice” for “stealing” rap from black people. (If that was Vanilla Ice’s intention, it was a failure… rap is still culturally considered black.)

    So, what happened is these black writers fell into the trap. “I’m opposed to Miley’s twerking, because cultural appropriation.”

    “Me too,” says ‘liberal feminist’ writer, “twerking is disgraceful, disgusting and degrading.”

    Black writer, “Hey… wait a minute.”

    ‘Liberal feminist’ writer, “They’ve been drinking bootleg hooch and listening to the Jazz…”

    Black writer, “Ok, I’m out of here…”

    1. Yeah – the reactionary middle-class left couldn’t make their ludicrous comments about race without some support from Afrocentric commentators. Together they create a perfect blend of bullshit.

  4. This article in itself is one of the most self-deluding moronic pieces I have ever read. There is not one sing being identified that isn’t committed here. Seems to be a case of middle-class ‘differentiation angst’ which comes of not being sure what your friends don’t want you to be. Erm…or something.

    The Guardian has been so long an alias of ‘Whitey Suckfest’ that pointing it out (IN ITS OWN TERMS) just moves you into a sub-class called ‘Wannabe Whitey Suckfester’. Erm…or something. Enjoy!

  5. Did you ever read Freeman’s piece on how BeyoncĂ© wasn’t A Proper Feminist because she wasn’t wearing a lot of clothes for a photoshoot (or whatever)? Didn’t anybody ever tell her about Madonna?

    1. I missed that gem. Obviously, women in burqas are the true feminists. And that sounds like a bad joke, except that “feminists” and conservative Muslims worked hand in hand to campaign against strip clubs in Tower Hamlets.

  6. You’ve featured the “Daily Bale” today. One of the articles is called “Could Billy Bragg be a Paedophile?”. The reporter, I kid you not, is “Steven Sodholmy”.

    Are we sure this is for real?

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