The English Genius for Making the Vulgar Lovable

Rupert Murdoch would not have become so powerful in the U.K. if he had not been able to give the people what they wanted and what the tabloids delivered. So did the inventors of the Yellow Press, Lords Northcliffe and Rothermere. They had similarly profited from the seemingly insatiable hunger among the working class for scandal, for what is nowadays called “sleaze.”

It is hard for outsiders to discuss this without being patronizing. In their day, our concerns about privacy were not known because today’s technology for invading it did not exist. The laws of libel were sufficient to protect the reputation of those injured.

But the press barons would not have become so rich and powerful if the English did not have a genius for making the vulgar lovable.

Only the English could have invented Falstaff.

It was Falstaffism that made Murdoch rich and powerful.


6 responses to “The English Genius for Making the Vulgar Lovable

  1. Hmmmm. William Randolf Hearst was, I suppose, of English heritage. Rupert comes from a Scots background (in the Kirk). And Fox News?

    • You are quite right to reprimand me for omitting in my somewhat one-sided Falstaffian observation the political agendas of William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch.

  2. Michael Gundy

    Nothing is quite as entertaining as the discomfort of others. Particularly if one feels oppressed by fate and the upper classes. Helps confirm our inner moral superiority.

    • One of the maxims by Le Duc de la Rochefoucauld is, I think, that there is nothing as agreeable as the discomfiture of one’s friends. I cannot verify this. Anyway, it has no bearing in your excellent comment. However, I can say for sure that Maxim 180 says that “men would not live together for long were they not dupes of each other.” This, perhaps, is more to the point.

  3. I’m up in the air on Rupert, I mean he did give us great shows like The Simpsons (HA) but Fox News, come on.

  4. The complete maxims are available here:
    “There is nothing as agreeable as the discomfiture of one’s friends” certainly sounds authentically Rochefoucauldian, and I don’t doubt your attribution for a moment, even though I couldn’t find it on a quick scan through the document. Maybe someone else will have more patience, and pin it down for us.