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The Sun Took ClickBait to an Absurd, Morbid New Level

You won’t BELIEVE what this tabloid did to chip away at the legitimacy of the press!

by Bertie Brandes
20 July 2017, 11:45am

h/t The Sun Apologies (@SunApology)

Ten weird items this woman was FORCED to eat by her captor. How to identify a sufferer of childhood trauma from these 5 TELLTALE physical ticks. You won't BELIEVE what this guy used to beat his elderly wife to death! [emoji here, the FIRST emoji of the set, the dead-eyed wide smiling one]

So yesterday this happened, taking clickbait to an extraordinary new level:

The relationship print media has to social media is like the relationship a (diagnosed) psychopath I used to date had with a cat he once kicked across the road. They see it, all soft and mewing and different to them, and they want to love it. They carefully move closer with no sudden movements, bending down to its level, peering into its eyes. They whisper, hi sweet thing, hello new audience data, hello CTIs. They rub their fingers together in anticipation for the little wet nose, the raspy tongue, the new advertising revenue. But as they approach and they really see it, so innately different to themselves, so repulsively unpredictable, so maddeningly unfamiliar, their leg almost unconsciously swings out behind them, high in to the air. With the force of years of bitter, public school resentment it flies forward and boots the cat hard in the stomach, out of sight. They laugh but they don't know why they're laughing. No one else is laughing. Goal.

Ridiculous nonsense is absolutely what we expect from the tabloids. But this hybrid of totally gratuitous gore-porn mixed in with the kind of penis-enlargement-pills-clickbait tone of voice that no legitimate media platform or even brand would be caught dead using manages to be shockingly monstrous. As we delicately try to explain fake news to our parents, chipping gently away at the megalith of trusted media sources tactfully and with considered arguments, the sources in question are violently fucking themselves before our eyes, unearthing great chasms in their stone foundations. They're running miles ahead, hysterically laughing at murders, stretching their mouths into bizarre Twitter emoji expressions as they go. It's horrible to watch because it's so unsettlingly familiar, so infuriatingly human.

That this has happened during the maturing of a generation who have found relatively safe outlets online where they can organise and challenge bigotry is absolutely not a coincidence. This is no longer a culture in which politicians can escape condemnation for using 19th century phrases about hidden black bodies in piles of wood. This is not a culture where, as fully entrenched and established as inequality is, it continues without challenge.


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What's happened as this has developed is that the great palaces of Comment, the ones who chose to ignore these stories for decades, have suddenly found themselves emptied of value. Where once their spluttering and braying was acknowledged with gratitude and understanding, they now stand stripped of purpose. We all knew that guy at school, that @prisonplanet-in-training – particularly as women – who spent the first three years of middle school wanking over the sound of his own smug, opinionated voice. Then, as blocks, mocks and (lol) oral exams approached and the rest of the class were forced to google what parliament was and what a mayor does and how to tell someone in French that you've broken both your arms and legs, he started to be challenged. Suddenly, his apparent intelligence was called in to question. Suddenly he's shouting, not smirking. Suddenly the limited-edition politician Top Trumps he got for his 11th birthday is not enough to justify this condescending free-market liberalism. Suddenly I'm fucking winning the argument.

It's almost surreal, seeing something so enormous crumble to ashes and blow in to oblivion. Like watching the sun rapidly cool and blacken, pulled from the sky, emphatically gone, though you never really paid it much attention when it was there.

Except it isn't, is it? It's just The Sun. A shit newspaper failing to adapt. You won't BELIEVE what this newspaper used to beat itself to death. And you won't miss it. None of us will.

@bertiebrandes

More on The Sun:

How Tabloids Get Away With Islamophobic Front Pages

Liverpool Vs The Sun: How the City Rid Itself of the UK's Biggest Paper

How 'British Values' Have Been Weaponised