Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Daily Mail vs The Gays...vs Cancer

I suppose in some ways I need to thank the Daily Mail. Occasionally, living in my cosy liberal bubble surrounded by people who aren't constantly-seething, hate-filled, evil morons, I sometimes think we've progressed much further than we have in reality. So it's important that occasionally I'm reminded that we still have a long way to go.

In Outrage as Tesco backs gay festival... but drops support for cancer charity event, the Mail gives us a curious glimpse into the conservative mindset. Here's the gist of the story;

Tesco has triggered outrage by ending its support for the Cancer Research ‘Race for Life’ while deciding to sponsor Britain’s largest gay festival.
Some religious commentators and groups have condemned the decision and are calling for a boycott of the supermarket chain.

Suddenly, it's time to pick a side. Which side are you on, cancer or gays? NO, YOU CAN'T CHOOSE BOTH. Tesco has made two seemingly unrelated decisions here, but the Mail is convinced that Tesco have really decided they love gays more than they want to fight cancer. Maybe that's true, maybe the gay demographic spends more than the stricken-with-cancer demographic, I don't know, I'm not in marketing.

But what is the Mail really angry about here? They're not actually angry about Tesco dropping support for Race For Life, because that happened in September, and nobody, least of all the Mail (as far as I can tell), gave a shit. Y'know, because it was just another big company making another marketing decision based on its usual set of flipcharts and whatnot. Race For Life will continue, they're looking for other sponsors, it's probably all going to be fine. You can stand down.

What the Mail are actually angry about is the gays. Mail readers don't spend their hard-earned law-abiding taxpayer two-parent family money on Tesco's Finest Yorkshire Pudding ready meals, for that money to go towards helping The Gays have a street party! The Mail helpfully illustrates how outrageous this is with an entirely representative picture of five buff dudes in sparkly red underpants.

Let's get one thing clear here; the amount of money Tesco is spending on sponsoring Pride is tiny. Toward the end of the the article, we find out that it's a mere £30k, which for a company of Tesco's size is the equivalent of listlessly tossing a White Company button at a toll both like it ain't no thang. It's a mere fraction of the £800k Pride costs to run. This would suggest that this decision is a small-scale one unrelated to the dropping of Race For Life, except in the fevered imaginations of Mail hacks. So what is the actual problem here?

Well, I don't know about you, but when I want a balanced, reasoned reflection on corporate sponsorship choices and homosexuality, I head straight for the Catholic blogosphere!

Francis Phillips, a commentator at The Catholic Herald, condemned the shift, saying: ‘Tesco is a supermarket. 
The kind of searing insight only a life dedicated to solemn religious study can bring, there. But wait! It continues!

Its remit has been to sell good-quality food and other items at very reasonable prices, and in this it has been hugely successful. 
Why has it now aligned itself with an aggressive political organisation such as Pride London?
‘Why has it given up its sponsorship of Cancer Research? Or at least…why hasn’t it taken up with another mainstream charity such as the British Legion or Age UK? 
The next person it quotes is from 'Anglican Mainstream'. Why, it's almost as if this story has been lifted wholesale from Phillips' blog! It turns out the Anglican Mainstream may not be as cuddly and mainstream as they sound;

He wrote: ‘For Tesco to sponsor a tiny homosexual minority – according to the Office for National Statistics, that amounts to little more than 1 per cent of the population – will be showing the utmost contempt for a large proportion of British society that still adheres, more or less, to the morality and values of the Ten Commandments.’ 
Seems a rather baffling stance to me. I'm not gay, but I'm really quite fine with this. Were people who didn't have cancer being discriminated against when Tesco was sponsoring cancer research? I didn't realise I was supposed to be upset when people who aren't me are acknowledged in some small way. Still, cute of this guy to imagine that British society still adheres to the Ten Commandments. I would love to see him go out on the streets of a major city of a Friday night and ask people what the Ten Commandments are, in full. I guarantee that most of them would do better listing football teams' starting line-ups. "Something about an ass? Covering an ass? Don't do that?".

Next, we are told that homosexuality is one of a number of unnamed "dubious fringe political movements". I guess we need to get rid of these dubious political movements and replace them with minority religions instead, huh? To get an idea of the extent of quite how fucked-up this article is, one quote is - and I'm not making this up - introduced thusly; "Catholic campaign website Protect the Pope said..."

Protect The Pope! Excuse me while I sick up my fucking soul for a second. So what do Tesco say?

Tesco said it was in talks with the charity to support its work in other ways and would encourage staff to continue taking part in the Race for Life.
A spokesman said the decision to drop its support ‘is not connected to our £30,000 sponsorship for Pride, which is one of hundreds of community and charitable events that we will be supporting next year’.

You...bastards. Of all the things Tesco has ever done, sponsoring this inclusive street party which aims to foster tolerance and understanding of homosexuality is easily...oh, wait, it doesn't even register, does it? As much as the Mail tries to feign mass outrage here, all it can provide is quotes from wacky Catholic bloggers. Of course, their myopic presentation of the story as TESCO WANTS GAY PEOPLE TO DANCE ON CANCER PATIENTS' GRAVES does manage to elicit some choice wingnuttery in the comments. At the time of writing, the top-rated comment is an unhinged screed about how gays should just bloody well keep quiet and act a bit more flipping STRAIGHT, from a person who calls themselves "
Free Britain from the unelected EU dictators in Brussels". This is your market, Daily Mail writers! I hope you're happy.

Ooh, just received an emailed addendum to The Gay Agenda. If anyone wants me, I'll be at Tesco's....

DISCLAIMER: This blog post was not sponsored by or endorsed by Tesco. But if anyone from their marketing department is reading, I am currently too skint to afford Modern Warfare 3...