As The Sun's Page 3 attempts to clean up its image by extolling the models' charitable associations, Celina Ribeiro says that charities have a task to prevent their good work from whitewashing offensive anachronisms.
There’s that old game that can be amusing sometimes. Reading through the newspaper, adding the suffix ‘in bed’ to a headline can make the most mundane of news stories suddenly sprout intrigue and hilarity. Suddenly it’s largely a good news day.
There is another suffix which is used to make bad things good; “for charity”. And now it seems that The Sun’s ‘Page 3’, previously defended for being “harmless fun” and “empowering for the girls” now has a new line of defence. Page 3 is “for charity”. Last week the newspaper profiled the models' charity work alongside their eagerly smiling faces and, I daresay slightly less prominently than, their bare breasts.
Page 3 is an anachronism. It has no place in a modern newspaper (it literally does not have a place in modern newspapers in most developed markets, including Mr Murdoch’s home country). The concept of a naked female body being a bit of light relief between the otherwise hard-hitting news stories of even a tabloid paper is offensive to men and women. And redundant. Punters need do no more than check their mobile phone for far more offensive pictures to view at their leisure.
Page 3 models should not be prevented from talking about their work with charity, even if that work may be limited to dropping off some old jumpers at their local Age UK charity shop. Charity and charities is actually an unavoidable part of most peoples lives in this country.
Charities are hamstrung here. They cannot declare their opposition to their generic name being used in vain. The public are not going to view the ‘for charity’ bit of Page 3 as an endorsement. However, it’s not a case of no non-news is bad non-news.
Page 3 is surely on its way to a slow, smiley death and it requires readers, commentators and charities to deny it the air it needs to survive. Charities cannot always prevent individuals and organisations from whitewashing themselves with the wonders of charitable association, but they can, charity by charity, be clear that they’d really rather something of more import be splashed on page 3.