The Samantha Brick debacle: why this is about media responsibility, not stupid women
If you’ve been buried under a rock for the last few days, this is what you missed in a nutshell:
Inexperienced young freelancer writes self-centered article for The Daily Mail about being beautiful. It talks about how other women react to her being “prettier than them”. The nation catches on, an online and offline shit storm ensues. Samantha Brick’s inbox receives the mother of all verbal batterings by everyone and their dog, and The Mail is accused of exploiting a woman for the sake of controversial publicity.
The Daily Fail causing uproar about the way they portray women? Colour me surprised.
I cannot fathom why everyone is so shocked by the revelation that The Mail does thrive, and has thrived for some time, on printing contradictory, prehistoric and derogatory content about what women should and shouldn’t do. What they should look like. How they should live their lives. Why what they do isn’t good enough for their gutter-worthy idealisations. I’m bored of it, if you’re a High Tea Cast reader I should think you’re bored of it, sensible women and modern-thinking men all over the place are bored of it.
It’s more than likely the whole thing is a PR ruse, in which case we should all know better than to pay it attention and give them what they want. We live in a time where we have access to public social tools that mean advertising and promotion in general has changed. Unlike the old style workings of mainstream media, we can now be selective about what content we consume, what we take in and what we choose to endorse. This means that in a total role reversal to times gone by, brands and indeed people have to cater to this. Consumers have that power, yet we’ve all managed to fall victims to the oldest, easiest and most unsentimental trick in the book: Sensationalism. And so the Daily Mail have succeeded in their mission, and we are to blame.
Ultimately, I don’t think it matters how Samantha Brick came across. Not really.
She can be as self centered or self deprecating as she likes – after all they write at least 60 times a day on the sidebar of shame about the women that can’t shift the weight, live without their man or stand their star studded lives any more – the poor excuse for a newspaper can capitalise on whatever she had to say because they were after something controversial. It just so happens that this time around she wrote about her finer qualities and so allowed the masses to call her pompous and self absorbed rather than fat and thick.
In such a hostile environment where the public are so quick to judge the women featured in tabloid stories whatever they may say, I’ll go as far as to suggest that if Samantha is telling the truth about the hardships of being pretty and what has happened to her as a result, at some points in her life she’s probably been one of many pretty women serving her dues at the hands of men as well as women at one time or another.
Samantha has a long and happy marriage to her husband Pascal, but have you seen how some men react to “pretty” women? Groped in a club, harassed for their attention and called a slut if they don’t play ball is a situation I’ve seen occur far too often and it’s appalling, let alone traumatic for the woman involved. Maybe she actually has paid her dues for people thinking she’s good looking and frankly, if it’s all true, why the hell not shout about it. In the aftermath of the story going viral, there’s a rumour Pascal has threatened her with divorce – a move which closes my point. If that were to happen, either she’s being divorced for speaking up about what she’s been put through because of her looks, or she’s being divorced for doing a job which she has been assigned because of her looks. By a man, obviously.
I’m not the kind of woman shallow enough to bitch at another female for admiring her own face. And in her position, if the story I pitched was going to be one that involved experiences of mine, it’s not likely I’d be willingly talking about my negative aspects. I have a terrible temper, teenage skin and am an appalling driver, but i wouldn’t write an article detailing it for all and sundry to see. Instead I’ll tell you about when I get to be strong and sexy and throw burlesque shapes on stage, or my latest win for team ginger. Or anything that doesn’t address my inability to pass by the chocolate box (which The Mail says I should be ashamed of, naturally).
What the focus should be on here is a crackdown on why media establishments can pull shit like this, and what people are thinking when they go about blaming naive women for seeing content that they don’t like.
When it comes down to it, Samantha has a job and must adhere to what an Editor says. Those of us who aren’t our own boss always have to do that, and furthermore if you’re inexperienced the best you can hope for is to do what you’re told and learn quick so you can move onto bigger and better things. And that’s just it – it’s not the writer who needs her values questioned here. It’s the Editor who needs to be held responsible, and it has been a very long time coming.