Twenty years ago, a Joey Barton equivalent would have got as close to Question Time as I will to sainthood.
Nowadays, sadly, different standards pertain. ‘Is he up to the job?’ comes well below ‘Is he edgy?’ and ‘Will ratings soar?’ on a list of the questions asked of themselves by the rather shallow people who appear to run television.
So populism prevails over qualifications and Barton is in, only – I’m told – to be so woeful he made Steve Coogan look good.
Reviews, of course, centred solely on one segment of his contribution:
“The footballer-cum-self-styled-philosopher was rabbiting away about the future prospects for Ukip, when he said: “So if I am somewhere and there were four really ugly girls, I’m thinking, ‘Well, she’s not the worst’, because that is all [UKIP] are, that is all you are to [the electorate].” – The Independent
Sure enough, this was seized upon by every available horseperson of the Outrage Apocalypse. Without thought, without analysis. Because nowadays, only labels matter.
And leading the way, wouldn’t you know, was the BBC, bravely endeavouring to mask its iPlayer ratings glee the following morning by reporting how their erstwhile ‘project’ had uttered ‘sexist’ comments on Question Time.
I would suggest the joke’s on them and many others among their media chums, however, because I’m not sure the comments are sexist at all.
Prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender? Barton simply uttered the truism that heterosexual males grade women on their looks. Of course we do: we pursue those we find pretty and stay ‘just good friends’ with those we don’t.
What’s more – and this may shock you, liberal media – women grade men in exactly the same way. Just listen in on any hen party once the Tequilas begin to bite and tell me I’m wrong. This is how heterosexuality functions and it cuts both ways, unlike genuine sexism, which declares – overtly or implicitly – that one gender is inferior to the other.
Barton’s comments were inelegant and didn’t befit the occasion – well blow me down – but the clumsy, knee-jerk response of the BBC in reporting them makes the Corporation look even more pathetic.
You’re more of a charlie than a Joey, Mr Barton, but for feasting so spectacularly on the hand that fed you, I have to say, God bless you.