Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Sun? Hypocritical? Perish the thought...

Not that I particularly want to give Simon Cowell praise for anything (even when it's due) but I'm very pleasantly surprised to see that X Factor contestant Chloe Mafia will not be axed from the show simply because of allegations that she worked as a "£160-an-hour escort" (is our knowledge of the exact price supposed to make it worse somehow?). I read the original article on The Sun website a couple of days ago, and it was utterly breathtaking to see that publication - of all publications - taking an implied judgemental stance on matters of sexual morality. I shouldn't have been surprised of course, because it's hardly the first time - tabloid journalists have a remarkable knack of seamlessly switching back and forth between 'laddish' mode and 'outraged evangelical preacher' mode. The most nauseating part of the article was the account of an undercover reporter who was "repeatedly invited" onto a double bed by Ms. Mafia, but instead "made his excuses and left". Well, how terribly noble of him. But does anyone doubt for a moment that The Sun would have been perfectly content for their reporter to go ahead and do the deed (on expenses, naturally) if they had calculated it would sell more papers? Of course, the main reason that couldn't happen was that it would have been incongruent with the pious subtext of the piece - namely that if the story could be substantiated, it was a complete no-brainer that Mafia's involvement in X Factor was untenable.

Now I may be missing something here, but as far as I'm aware what Mafia allegedly does for a living is perfectly legal in the UK (there may be some grey areas over the advertising of escort services on the internet, but as things stand the work itself is legal). So why should her participation in the show ever have been thought to be in jeopardy? Yes, she's done something that a certain portion of the population finds morally objectionable, but the same would apply to anyone who has ever had an abortion, eaten meat or had an affair - all also legal activities. Why is it taken as read that certain types of intolerance will always be pandered to, but not others? Regardless of personal moral values, it's always a good start to view every individual as first and foremost a human being, rather than as some kind of walking embodiment of one particular choice they've made in their life.

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