In 1984 (yes, we know the book title is spelled out) one of the amusements for the proles is cheap pornographic fiction, written by machines which endlessly recycle six basic plots. Was Orwell having an intellectual dig at mass culture, or just predicting the advent of the late-night version of Hollyoaks?
Either way, his prediction that the proles would require anything as demanding as a plot was way off the mark, as evidenced by this week’s News of the World, which is rapidly turning from a downmarket tabloid to a downmarket porn mag.
OK, the News of the World has always published kiss-and-tell stories and dull tales of 'bonking' vicars. But just recently it’s become obsessed with sex, joylessly churning out increasingly pornographic 'articles' on its grimy pages. This week, after a cursory page of news, the paper quickly got down to soft-porn stories badly disguised as journalism
First up was the mind-bogglingly contrived rivalry between Jordan and Jodie Marsh, complete with rude pictures of the pretty ladies. Jordan's into threesomes, apparently. "If a have a threesome I don't like my boyfriend to kiss the girl because I like to be in control."
Yeah, well, whatever. It's your threesome, Katie. Or possibly a figment of your publicist's imagination in a carefully orchestrated FHM interview (the scorching pix of Jordan are a tie-in with FHM, which gets the usual plug at the bottom of the
Skip forward a couple of pages and you encounter the clumsy headline 'Pair of blockbusters'. According to the NotW, Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels) and Jennifer Connelly (Incredible Hulk) are "battling it out at the box office." Er, in what way are these two lovelies engaged in a personal battle? Ah, who cares, there are topless pix of both of them.
But the highlight for Sunday afternoon masturbators is a NotW section simply entitled Posh Sex. This was a series of allegedly true tales of upper class people 'bonking' in the way you might imagine them to, if you've got a very limited imagination: 'Midnight romp on divots of polo park', etc.
You’d think it would be hard to make the traditional pleb fantasy about shagging 'posh birds' even more lowbrow, but somehow the NotW managed it. Those posh birds, they're gagging for a bit of rough! Yes dear, of course they are. This message was reinforced with the usual obviously-made-up quotes: "Get a few glasses of champagne down their necks and those crisp white panties come down faster than Prince Harry’s polo mallet!"
Crisp white panties? What is this, Razzle? "You won't believe what happened to me when I was driving my lorry past a girl’s school... teenage sluts... bulging manhood... gym mistress decided to join in... etc. ad implauseum. (And can you imagine if people talked in NotW quotes in real life. "My girlfriend works in an office. Just tell her to 'Spreadsheets' and she's gagging for a bit of my 'PowerPoint'..." etc. We'd all go mental. Sorry, 'bonkers').
Elsewhere there's an article about yet another 'scandal' involving some pimp who offers punters a kind of package deal including Wimbledon tickets, a wrap of coke and sex with a couple of upmarket prozzies (who of course describe their activities in some detail).
We're confused now. Sex with posh tarts is GOOD, but sex with prostitutes is BAD... what if you do it against a wall behind Wimbledon tennis courts? Surely that counts as 'posh sex'? Er...
There's something rather depressing about the NotW's approach to sex. Not particularly the business of encouraging people to 'spice up your love life!' on a weekly basis while getting aerated about prostitutes, randy vicars etc. Nor is it the tacky, made-up-ness of its predictable sexual fantasies, or its
mercenary lowest denominator formula.
It’s more the way that reading it induces a dismal sense of having seen it all before. You can practically feel your sex drive fading away as you see Jordan’s tits (which are now as familiar to most people as their own thumbs) yet again and read about the billionth 'attractive blonde' to share a 'night of passion' with Robbie Williams.
Sex? Yawn. Been there, done that. We'd rather settle down with the Observer and a nice article by David Aaronovitch about a worrying rise in anti-Semitism.