Friday, October 16, 2009

Spiral of righteous loathing

When a celebrity dies it's never long before the sick jokes start. The mainstream media however usually respect the dignity of the departed and elevate them to a peculiar level of sainthood. Once the funeral is done, then the nastiness starts. With Stephen Gately the jokes were immediate, but The Daily Mail's Jan Moir piled in with a piece of hasty spiteful conjecture. This afternoon she has been hounded into an apology, advertisers have withdrawn from the site and the internet mob has had its blood up, encouraged greatly by Charlie Brooker of the Guardian. The last time I looked on Twitter people (including Brooker and Derren Brown, to be fair) were appealing for calm after her home address was published. There's an irony there, for sure.

It's a social media phenomena this. Normally you would just not bother to read the Daily Mail if you didn't like it. Now the Twitterati is quickly mobilised. In the US this is as likely to be a conservative backlash. But the kind of people who arse around on the internet all day are more likely to be socially liberal, Guardian readers and more than capable of waving the pitchfork.

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