Friday, 23 January 2015

Dylan Sharpe's Ironic Justice

Like many opposed to The Sun's Page Three feature, I was part of the mad rush to dance on its' supposed grave on Wednesday. Then, when the tabloid pulled the rag out from under us all, I was smarting and bitter at their - non-existent - duplicity!
I was wrong, I'd committed a cardinal sin of journalism by making an assumption, a leap of faith without the evidence to back it up. Call it a valuable lesson, and hopefully all of the media commentators who made the same mistake will also come away wiser and more cynical.

What they didn't need is Dylan Sharpe's superior tweet to some of the most well-known journalists, as well as a sympathetic politician who sincerely hoped her campaign had made a difference.
Even Sharpe, in his apology - published on Buzzfeed oddly, not The Sun itself - acknowledges a pot-shot at Harriet Harman was unnecessary. "Guilty of gloating", he conceded.

In reality, he has done a fantastic job of Public Relations. Not only has The Sun pulled off one of the greatest bait-and-switch moves in journalism history, Sharpe has stoked the fires by taking to that great media battlefield and throwing oil on the inferno. There's no such thing as bad publicity!

I fully expect the entire operation has galvanized the legions of otherwise apathetic white van men, who feared for the loss of the morning totty, and whose brand loyalty can only improve with this swerve towards cancellation.
I expect the increased polarisation of discussion about Page Three online will keep The Sun riding high in press coverage and media discussion.
I believe that Sharpe's jibing swipe at his detractors eggs the argument on, creating a vortex of ardent conversation that this article itself is just one bubble of.

It all contributes to a major PR coup for Murdoch's flagship tabloid, back from the dead more than Vlad Dracula. What did interest me was Sharpe's closing wish...
So there it is. I continue to be told I’m a c*nt by people who know my name, my job and one tweet I sent. Guilty of gloating I most certainly am. Icarus has well and truly plummeted to earth. But I never meant to offend and I want to apologise to all those I @’ed in that tweet. It was supposed to be funny but clearly I misjudged that one. Now I see if Twitter can forgive as quickly as it can hate….
Really. A white male employee of a sexist British tabloid, asking for forgiveness from Twitter. If this isn't a delightfully ironic parallel to the entire concept of media self-regulation, of toothless press watchdogs forgiving one another their myriad sins, then I don't know what is.

I honestly can't tell if Sharpe is concealing another 'cheeky swipe' in his apology, fully acknowledging the hypocrisy of begging for mercy from Twitter for giving the MRAs and trolls exactly what they wanted. Compare his two days experience to what someone like Caroline Criado-Perez has endured for years, and try and accommodate how disingenuous it is.

Caroline's twitter feed included this retweet that I particularly like, and find very appropriate.
However, we must resist the urge to relish Sharpe's experience of mistreatment at the hands of Twitter. As tempting as it is for an evident supporter of patriarchy to suddenly be on the grim receiving end of that institution's crude online 'justice', we should not wish that punishment on anyone.

That punishment should not exist. Nobody, no-one at all should have to endure threats of harm, death, and violence online. We should condemn those who threaten Dylan Sharpe with all the fire and fervour we condemn those who threaten Criado-Perez, or Anita Sarkeesian, or Brianna Wu, or anyone else who has dared come out and state that women are treated as second-class citizens.

Nobody is a second-class citizen - and the last person who should be regarded as so is Dylan Sharpe. Even if it seems like he doesn't agree with the concept.


One closing thought - much of the debate about Page Three swirls around rendering the models as mere objects, objectification being a major plank of feminism, I believe. To counter that, Channel Four conducted a brilliant interview with author Germaine Greer, Harriet Harman MP, and model Chloe Goodman - you can watch it here.

I'd be curious to know what Nicole, 22 from Bournemouth thinks about the debate swirling around her decision - and it is hers - to appear on Page Three.

No comments:

Post a Comment