Remember the Magaluf Girl scandal? When the tabloid’s mined drunken holiday experiences for cheap titulation to serve up as voyeuristic erotica. Paul Doyle nails tabloid journalism to its own shit-stained walls for it’s depressing and hypocritical treatment of young people doing what young people do.
Make no mistake, if an 18 year old male from a forgotten working class area were to commit a crime, newspapers would have no hesitation in referring to him as ‘the 18 year old man’. He’s old enough to vote, to join the army, and go to prison, yet, when he jets off for a sun holiday with his friends after completing his final exams, he is transmogrified from an adult male to an innocent, delicate and virginal flower for whom we must all be concerned, and for whom metres of column space must be dedicated, lest he be led astray.
This summer, redtop newspapers ‘exposé’ stories regarding places like Magaluf have – to borrow their rhetoric – ‘reached a new low’. Newspapers, most of which make a concerted and consistent effort to sexualise teens, are now turning around and cynically selling to concerned parents the image of their sexy child.
Niamh Horan, in a video report for the Irish Independent said with a straight face,
“Welcome to Magaluf, where your teenagers are living out your worst nightmares on their summer holidays. From masturbatory games every night in the local pubs, to knock off Viagra on sale in the local sweet stores; if ever there was a place that epitomised the fact that sex sells: this is it.”
The Irish Independent and Horan obviously did not realize the irony of graphically describing post-leaving cert pansexual antics to your audience in masturbatory detail, while simultaneously complaining about the use of sex as a cynical marketing ploy.
Indeed, paradoxically, while complaining that young people are being sexualized from too young an age, Irish papers having been quite deliberately using language that makes the subjects of these contrived scandals seem as childlike as possible – ‘Viagra in the sweet shop’, ‘guzzling drink like a chocolate milkshake’ – in other words, using rhetoric that unnecessary associates the erotic with the childlike…to complain about our culture’s association of the childlike with the erotic. Sort of like kicking a dog to death in an attempt highlighting the inherent immorality of animal cruelty.
Dr. Samuel Johnson, after producing his first dictionary, was approached by a group of women, who congratulated him on having omitted a large amount of obscenity from his work. Johnson then expressed his gratitude to them for having revealed that they had been looking in the first place.
Like Johnson’s female admirers quest for curse words, readers and writers of red tops alike have been desperately searching for something, anything, to be outraged by. There’s something unashamedly voyeuristic about the recent coverage of teen-holidays: readers are getting the cathartic thrill of shaming young men and women (particularly young women), while at the same time gorging on the erotic language and video – having their cake while lecherously stuffing their face. Prepare to shocked and appalled by this sexy, sexy footage!
The Irish Sun, when describing the antics of a young girl ‘caught’ performing a sex act wrote,
“Her nightclub sex shame was filmed on a mobile phone. The footage was posted on Facebook by bodybuilder Reece Martini and has since been shared more than 15,000 times. Reece, 26, wrote: “A friend just sent me this from Spain, what a disgrace. Girl in Maga dishes out 24 **** ***s for a free drink. No wonder they get a bad name.”
This is a textbook tabloid tactic: abdicating responsibility by emphasising that they did not upload the video, while at the same revelling in shaming the young woman concerned – control yourself, slut! So objectionable was the coverage that even Geordie Shore’s Jay Gardner, when interviewed, was quick to point out the obvious hypocrisy involved – virtually no mention was made of the males involved, while the young woman in question’s face was the centre of attention. ‘Hon the lads.
The Mirror ran a story titled ‘Magaluf: show reel of shame’ which allowed readers – who, being online, were likely to be looking up erotica for personal consumption already – to revisit the Summer’s sex scandals. One of these stories was concerned with a promoter who refused to take responsibility for the harm he had apparently done to the young lady who was involved in the previously mentioned public sex act in his nightclub. Again, the issue of the damage done by her face being on the cover of every red-top newspaper in Britain and Ireland was not only not addressed, but judging by the language used, not even considered.
Both the Daily Mail and The Mirror reassured readers that the young woman who had allegedly felated 24 men had been ‘forgiven’ by her hyper-religious parents. Again, this is problematic for reasons it is almost embarrassing to explain.
The young woman in question does not require forgiveness from anyone, particularly the kind of person who shares the same values as the Daily Mail or The Mirror.
While some might say that parents would be ‘insane’ to let their children go on a holiday in which ‘their worst nightmares are being lived out’, it would be more apposite to suggest that parents would be misguided in preventing their child (who is old enough to vote, join the army, and go to prison) going on a holiday because of the recent lazy, idiotic and sensationalist journalism regarding teen holidays.
Photos by Dellboyy Art.