Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Sun: 40 years of goo

UPDATE: Check out the "Page 3 Propaganda" video.

A celebration of the rag's glorious contribution to British culture.

"We're celebrating our 40th birthday in style", announces the Sun today.

A series of self-congratulatory quotes (i.e. from people like Simon Cowell), is the way Britain's own bible belters are kickstarting a series of "sparkling birthday features".

It's undisputed that the Sun managed to push its way to the forefront of Britain's contemporary culture. From shifting the nation's attention towards mammary glands, through their contribution to harmony and cohesion, and all the way to reasoned and fact-based news reporting, the Sun has indeed become the epitome of British phlegm, "a national institution" (according to the Sun itself).

But to spare the Sun the risk of sliding into self-important back-slapping mode, which would be soooo unlike them, we've decided to help them celebrate the rag's history with a short roll of honour of some of its most memorable moments.

It's May 1982 and, in the midst of the Falklands' war, it is announced that the British troops have sunk an Argentine ship called General Belgrano, killing 300 people. The Sun's own contribution comes in the guise of a sombre, level-headed headline: "GOTCHA".

In 1987 the Sun completely made up allegations about singer Elton John and rent boys. They ended up paying £1m in libel damages.

The incident looked positively tame compared to what happened two years later. The Hillsborough tragedy became one of Britain's most dramatic moments. The Sun decided to lend a helping hand by publishing the headline "THE TRUTH", falsely claiming that Liverpool supporters urinated on rescue workers and picked the pockets of crushed victims.

Nothing, of course, like the stalking of Clare Short in 2003. The Birmingham Ladywood MP dared to speak out against Page 3- effectively attempting to deprive Britain's lads of their right to access basic masturbating tools. The Sun's response? As they don't do hysteria, they opted for a subtle, discreet and persuasive ploy.

As Clare Short recounts:
"[t]his led to busloads of Page 3 girls parked outside my house all day in the hope of setting up embarrassing photos, and mock-up pictures of me as a very fat Page 3 girl. They even sent half-dressed people to the house I share with my 84-year-old mother in Birmingham and had people hiding in cars and chasing me down the street in an effort to get embarrassing photographs".
And if the word 'bullying' springs to mind, then get a life. The Sun were only messing about. Like when they unleashed a hate campaign against Swiss referee Uri Meier in the follow-up of the controversial Euro 2004 exit of England against Portugal. After urging readers to "let rip" and send him emails, the tabloid stalked the referee's home in northern Switzerland and published his address. Fed up of death threats and afraid for his family, Mr Meier was soon forced to move.

But if that was just a question of sport, no-one can deny the Sun's contribution to community relations.

Like last year's completely fabricated "Muslim terror hit list" story, or the other about a Muslim bus driver who allegedly "kicked passengers off the bus" so that he could pray. In July 2003, the rag's front page sported the headline "SWAN BAKE: Asylum seekers steal the Queen's birds for barbecues". At least on that occasion the Sun apologised. Five months later. On page 41.

[Click here for "40 years of crap" PART TWO]


Chris Baldwin said...

It was founded in 1964, so what the hell?

socialist sam said...

Exactly Chris. I was thinking that. 1969 is when Rupert Murdoch took over. So the excitement can be explained by their desperate need to find a coverup to quickly brush aside the Janes/Brown spelling fiasco. Any excuse would do and this looked like the nearest one available.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

HAve you seen Tim Ireland's excellent piece at bloggerheads on Page 3 propaganda?

Check it out Cluade.

Anonymous said...

the Sun has indeed become the epitome of British phlegm

Yes - exactly like something green and stringy you might cough up and spit in a gutter if you were suffering from a really unpleasant chest infection.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

One could actually say it was founded in 1912, albeit as the Daily Herald. Failing sales meant it was relaunched in 1964 under "The Sun" title but it continued the decline until Murdoch took it over.

The Sun appears to have celebrated 40 years in 2004 and will probably celebrate 100 years in 2012. Consistency will be ignored.

Gordon Brown said...

Who says I don't have a sense of humour??

BBC News:
David Cameron has said that he needs a strong mandate.
Well Julian Clary's a big lad. I'm sure he'd be available for a few shandies and a spot of dominant fisting.