Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Homophobia and tabloids

Twice in four days, Melbourne tabloid the Herald-Sun has run unrelated full frontal (= most of its front-page) features, primarily about a relationship between two gay men, but with a third wheel also looming large. The correct word to describe these stories is “homophobic”, which is not a term I commonly use.

To give you an idea of the Herald-Sun’s priorities and interests here, Sunday’s front-page story on MP Andrew Olexander and his admin assistant cum partner outranked the then-peak-fresh “Big Brother” sex scandal on the day. For a tabloid, the latter is self-evidently a huge story, so the Andrew Olexander story must easily be one of this year’s top ten most important, period. Of course, the Herald-Sun had an ostensible pretext for running the story: that Olexander and partner are slack with their constituency office hours, and isn’t it a bit suss that O’s employing his partner anyway? Yep, that’s B-I-G all right; we all know that heterosexual politicians would never stoop to such.

Today’s story however, has not even a flimsy public-interest veil, a la politicians’ (and their employees') accountability. It is simply a report of a property dispute (albeit involving $7m, but this surely isn’t so large a sum as to prima facie scream “front page treatment”) between ex-partners Geoffrey Smith (a National Gallery of Victoria curator) and art dealer Robert Gould. Oh, and as I mentioned, there is a third wheel; this time a gay man (who is, like Smith and Gould, a minor public figure) who is alleged to have had a secret affair with one of the couple, prior to their estrangement. (In Sunday’s story, the third wheel was Olexander’s partner’s ex-wife, who is – shock, horror – bitter.)

What prurient crap. No doubt the Herald-Sun feels emboldened to run such stories because its sibling broadsheet doesn't mind taking the occasional, nakedly homophobic tilt, albeit never as a front-page leader. No, the Oz is far too Pru/Trude-polite to be tabloid-homophobic, isn’t it Sweetie? As is this sanctimonious crew of soft-Left Chris Masters-fluffers at LP.

To be clear about it, I actually prefer my media homophobia to be served up on the front-page, and preferably with big, GAY banner headlines. Yes, it’s nastier, and so closer to encouraging/inciting actual physical violence, but this can work both ways. Chris Tinkler, Ian Haberfield and Karen Collier (= the journos who wrote the two Herald-Sun stories): if I ever meet you, I would gladly, nay . . . gaily serve you up your very own next front page shock, in a font so large and unmistakeable that it makes your eyes (and more) bleed.

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