Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tory Maguire, Alison Stephenson, and Chairman Murdoch's minions busy confecting moral panic on the intertubes

(Above: Isadora Duncan, whose form of dancing and outrageous dress still poses a threat to young people everywhere).

Moral panics are now a staple part of the diet of the intertubes, especially in that area which once nostalgically used to be called the mainstream media.

If there's one negative to the infinite library known as the full to overflowing interweb, it's the way it harbors loons and conspiracy theories and journalists intent on drawing attention to themselves by drawing attention to a moral panic.

In this arena, the desperate hacks and flacks of the Murdoch press - Chairman Rupert's minions - excel.

Yep, it's another typical day at The Paunch, Australia's dumbest, cheap skate, cheap assed conversation, and the first blog to develop belly sag before it's passed puberty.

How better, for example, to celebrate Halloween than skew it with a story about body image?

The Punch decided to ask the people at the coal face of the battle against the growing sexualistion of children, mothers with young daughters, what an image like this did to their efforts to stop their little girls growing up too fast.

Don’t miss our body image special on The Punch tomorrow morning. You won’t believe your eyes.

The image that Tory Maguire is referring to in her fear mongering column - Does it really matter if this 9-year-old dresses like this? - is a photo of pop star Miley Cyrus's little sister Noah at a Halloween party, and the question I have is this.

If the image is so shocking and disturbing, what the hell is an ethical journalist doing running it in a way that brings it front and center, and floating around the intertubes like a piece of festering foulness?

The answer of course is that it's just a dress up Halloween style that is neither revealing nor problematic, unless you happen to be a fundamentalist Christian who thinks Halloween a satanic festirval, or you revert to the original story devised by yet another Murdoch hack, one Alison Stephenson, under the header Noah Cyrus, 9, causes outrage in dominatrix Halloween costume.

And here's how they do it:

Yep, it's a cheap, vile, pathetic, sordid attempt at a few entertainment headlines using guilt by association to sell a few clicks on the intertubes, mingling a harmless goth outfit with whips, handcuffs and sensuous hussies (not that there's anything wrong with any of that, especially the dominant woman bit).

Only one magazine editor helped out hackette Stephenson in her attempt to drum up moral outrage, and that was Disney Girl editor Fiona Wright:

Wright said she would refuse to run these pictures in her magazine, despite the star being popular with their tween audience.

"All the girls we cover in the magazine, we make sure they are tween friendly and their outfits are something that is appropriate.

"Being a Disney publication we stress family values and no, we definitely wouldn't run these pictures."

Well she would say that, wouldn't she, being a Disney twit, never mind that Disney has eaten out for lunch over many years by exploiting images of women as witches (and can they ever be forgiven for Glenn Close doing Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians?)

But sensibly, 'tween magazines Total Girl and Little Angel declined to comment, so it was off to the blogosphere for further comment:

Blogs and celebrity websites have been sent into overdrive with people outraged by the nature of Cyrus' outfit at such a young age.

"What is she dressed as? A child prostitute?" wrote one web-user.

Wright echoed the sentiments.

"Her parents would have given her the OK, and all responsibility should have been directed back on them.

"They would have known these pictures would have ended up in magazines and they shouldn't have allowed her to wear something like this."

Well they would say that, wouldn't they. The blogosphere is full of loons who love a moral panic, amplified by being quoted anonymously by Chairman Murdoch hackettes wanting to lather up a moral storm.

But here's the thing. The photo by itself is innocuous, doubly so in the context of Halloween, and the only way it can be given a dark filthy perverted meaning is by the News Corp hackette ferreting through the costumes to be found at

I could achieve the same sense of moral outrage by putting the hapless kid up against images from Bewitched and I Dream of Jeanie.

Relax, that was just to get the feminists going with a look at the mass media's ability to dehumanize Nicole Kidman by putting her in a feature film re-make of a show which makes the plastic doll above exude more life and sexuality.

But back to bubble headed booby Maguire, who doesn't seem to understand that her piece isn't a part of the solution, it's part of the problem.

She spends the rest of her column interviewing anxious parents who are disturbed by the costume and by children (girls, always with the girls, never mind the boys in their budgie smugglers) growing up too quickly, with only a few dissenting voices in her piece paddling against the collective tide of moral outrage and moral panic.

And the bottom line?

Don’t miss our body image special on The Punch tomorrow morning. You won’t believe your eyes.

Oh please. Put it behind a paywall so I can miss it, instead of watching this journalistic car crash in slow motion.

Here's the catch 22. If we won't believe our eyes, we shouldn't be seeing the images, and Chairman Rupert's minions shouldn't be running them. And if we do believe our eyes, I dare say it'll be because once again the Murdoch press can be relied on for cheap titillation and easy sensationalism, of a kind PG rated and acceptable for public reading on the intertubes anywhere outside Iran and North Korea.

Gutter trawling with the Murdoch press is now as reliable an activity as it used to be in the golden days of the yellow press and the tabloids. Only now it's done via the intertubes, and they can easily transmit large color photos and assemble them into galleries so the prudes can flick through, clucking all the while.

Well I've decided to embark on a campaign to ban Isadora Duncan dance techniques, for fear the rampant hedonism and sensuality on view might undermine western civilization and its precious values forever, or at least until Christmas, when we can do a story about the war against Christmas.

Don't believe me? Look below. You will hardly be able to believe your eyes.

(Below: Isadora Duncan's perverted form of modern dance, and young people listening to her evil perverted lessons in life. Sure she died in 1927, strangled by a large silk scarf - here - but her legacy lives on, distorting impressionable minds).

(Below: and now, since the satanic festival of Halloween is upon us, even if it's a romp not widely celebrated in Australia, here's a couple of images for gentlemen readers. Or women with a discerning capacity to appreciate the Sapphic charms of their sisters.

With a bonus thought, perhaps even an inspiration. Why not dress your nine year olds in the costumes illustrated below - freely available from your local fancy dress store - and then send them along to the Murdoch press for a run, as the best and most imaginative stage mothers do. You too could be part of a moral panic, and your young ducklings could have world wide exposure. It'll be a win win for the Murdoch press and paedophiles everywhere.

As for stereotyping, along with moral panics, and cheap photos of scantily clad women designed to bolster random hits on the intertubes, we'll leave that to the Murdoch press. Irony laden chortle follows).

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