The Luminary Postgraduate Magazine Lancaster University

Horror Bodies: The Disapproved Of

Thomas Hawes



Day by day sections of our media make the beautiful ugly and the ugly beautiful. Good looking and sometimes talented young people are routinely transformed into celebrity idols, hoisted like statues onto lofty pedestals, initially acclaimed but soon subjected to fierce criticism that they had not expected. Finally they are thrown down in the mud when found to have feet of clay because this celebrity frenzy has corrupted them. On the other hand, ugly 'values' such as the glorification of militarism are presented as if they were so self-evidently necessary and noble that to oppose them must of itself be wicked and unnatural. Today's media are, in addition, so influential that they have arguably rendered soldiers and police almost redundant when it comes to controlling the masses. The latter now seem to be more than amenable to indirect pressure, through media role-modelling and life-styling in chat shows and reality TV, as well as - more directly - in the news.

The way this functions is that 1. a cult of celebrity is encouraged, if not necessarily created, by the media; 2. internet sites, TV and radio channels, newspapers and other media organs exploit this cult of celebrity by including or excluding, highlighting or demoting specific news items in line with their own general ideological priorities; 3. particular individuals and groups of people are singled out for transformation into icons of what they consider positive or negative values; 4. extra elements may be attached at will to these icons in order to endorse or attack political and other opinions of the moment. What is important is that all this may be less than obvious to consumers while they are concentrating on the said celebrities.

This article will first review some basic critical theory about newspaper ideology, before outlining its central concepts of 'outsidering' and of 'the word'. After a brief explanation regarding the data and methodology employed, it will discuss how discourse participants may be used to vary and manipulate the writer's profile in this respect, to either include or exclude other parties. Finally, in the main section of the paper, outsidering will be analysed and exemplified in two specific issues of The Sun.


What passes for 'news' has become, in the early twenty-first century, a naturalized staple of our cultural diet. It is something we must keep up with if we aspire to being considered informed. News is also strongly habit-forming, like a drug, to the point where we may feel unsatisfied or inadequate if we neglect it for too long. We rarely stop to consider this phenomenon, but an observation by Fairclough offers an insight into what is going on: 'The constant doses of “news” which most people receive each day are a significant factor in social control'.1

Therefore, as the word doses implies, news has become one of our social drugs, or at least a form of placebo imbibed on a daily basis like vitamin tablets. We cannot forgo it without courting withdrawal symptoms, even if these are merely imagined. Moreover, our seemingly unquestioning news consumption appears to operate rather like eating – that is, as a society, we tend increasingly to consume it in a hurry, without full concentration. Though we may focus on particular news items from time to time, just as we might pay more careful attention to the menu when in a restaurant, much of the news we consume goes through our system almost unnoticed.

This happens the more easily because the doses remain constant, as Fairclough also notes above. The proportions of the different content areas within a given newspaper have been found to vary only minimally and the proportions of the various news categories likewise remain surprisingly stable. For example, Tunstall (1996), cited in Reah (2002), assesses The Sun's balance as: 35% advertising, 29% sport & entertainment and 28% news. 2In other words, it is not the news (if there is, such a thing, objectively speaking) on any given day that dictates the coverage. Instead, as with drugs, there is a prescription to be adhered to and the usual news slots must be filled, whether or not there is anything of note to fill them with. Worryingly, the decision as to how to fill a particular slot is political, for 'the news story… is not a neutral vehicle, nor is news production a neutral process'.3

Fairclough suggests that the underlying purpose of this whole news circus is not so much to keep us informed as good citizens but to give voice - albeit in a disguised manner - to those in power.4 Yet the precise ideology that is dominant in any given newspaper is best left understated, Ng & Bradac claim, because 'influence attempts' become more palatable to their targets when depoliticised by indirectness or camouflaged as something else.5 The extent of The Sun's influence today may be debatable but, since it remains the best selling British daily, we can assume that it is significant. Its use of metaphorical models to simplify and frame its news presentation is therefore noteworthy. Ng & Bradac explain:

Metaphors are models for thinking about social and physical objects and for communicating a complex set of attributes in a shorthand that can be readily understood… models call our attention to some features of experience and blind us to other features… metaphors come to seem natural and inevitable and, therefore, no more objectionable than one's own field of vision. (Ng & Bradac, pp. 138-141)


Among the metaphorical models employed by The Sun, us and them, friends and outsiders appear to be primary. The polarity created between us and them, between friends and outsiders, sets up the stark perspective of a binary world. All that is then needed is to foster an association between any given person or persons and one or other opposing pole, and one has a ready-made argument for or against them. This paper will therefore argue that these symbols constitute a secular 21st century version of medieval iconicity, presenting us with a sacred family and its mirror opposite from hell. They prepare the reader ideologically for their subsequent manifestations, so that they will be readily accepted as conforming to a familiar pattern and digested without too much detailed examination. In this way readers may be ideologically positioned. By placing them in the role of 'implied reader' and by creating a 'system of shared values' a newspaper may evoke the illusion of an extensive group of people who think alike. (Reah, pp. 45, 50) This amounts to uniting the readership in opposition to a given individual or group of people, which has traditionally been known as 'othering'.

'Othering', in essence, refers to the assertion of the self through the denigration of the Other and has almost certainly been practised throughout history. As an academic concept it probably originated with the German philosophers Fichte and Hegel and in present day Europe the notion is most closely associated with Lacan and Derrida. Lacan's psychoanalytic theory posits a child's entry into a mirror stage, in which s/he first becomes aware of being a separate self, distinct from the rest of the world, upon acquiring language, which is the site of the signifier, the symbolic order, or a third party – hence the Other.6 The notion has been adopted by feminists, amongst others, to criticise male patriarchal thinking for being incapable of perceiving woman except as man's negative mirror image or 'other'.7The concept also has a bearing on the question of what is 'meaning' and whether it exists in itself or is merely a function of comparison, or deferral. Moi (1985) provides an accessible summary of Derrida 8on meaning deferral: 'Meaning is never truly present, but is only constructed through the potentially endless process of referring to other, absent signifiers. The “next” signifier can in a sense be said to give meaning to the “previous” one'.9

Since one's identity is bound up with the thoughts one is able to express and since, as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis holds, language and thought are inextricably connected, the very use of language simultaneously implies both a self-asserting identity and also, necessarily, self-alienation. One defines oneself as that which is not Other and, thereby, becomes dependent upon the Other, without whom, in a sense, one would not exist. The claim here is that, when it comes to ideological dissemination in The Sun, the generalised phenomenon of othering takes the more specific form of outsidering, by which I mean designating individuals or groups of people not as members of one's in-group but of an out-group, in other words as 'outsiders'.

Reah hypothesizes that such role modelling may be achieved through differentiated naming, i.e. assigning to 'us' the more positive, to 'them' the more negative names. However, while this is undoubtedly a factor, readers sensing bias might well be inclined to resist any perceived indoctrination. Therefore, a more effective method in the long term would simply be to present enough examples of friends and outsiders in consistently positive or negative contexts, respectively, for the reader to know exactly which types are which without it having to be spelled out. This applies especially to anti-role models. Praising particular people could be interpreted as merely polite endorsement of current fashion or a laudable awareness of public opinion. However, an attack on specific elements immediately gives rise to the supposition that it is revealing of the paper's own position.


Althusser's (1971) thesis that print media organs are among the Ideological State Apparatuses10remains explanatory if we make allowances for the end of the Cold War and resulting advances by capitalism, as well as privatisation and today's generally lower (though not necessarily less powerful) profile for the State. Seen against this background, Sun journalists are arguably members of an influential socio-political elite or at least working in alliance with such an elite, whether by overt agreement or otherwise. Nevertheless, as Ng & Bradac explain, it is in their interests to cultivate an appearance of 'solidarity' with their overwhelmingly working class readership. This is where gossip and Hodge & Kress' (2006) concept of 'the word' are useful.11

The creation of solidarity, and cultural transmission more generally, through spoken gossip has been widely recognised. Riley (2007) categorizes social knowledge into three types, namely knowing that (which relates to political and religious beliefs); knowing of (which applies to current events, news and gossip) and knowing how (which refers to people's skills and competencies). The most relevant to ideological dissemination in the media is Riley's second category, knowing of, which he describes in terms of familiarity with certain 'values'. 'Conversation, and in particular, the kind of conversation we often denigrate as “gossip”, is by far the most important channel for the constant reaffirmation of shared values', he asserts.12

In a similar way to friends or family negotiating through the medium of gossip which of their acquaintances belong to a favoured in-group and which they disapprove of, newspapers consistently portray specific people as favoured or disfavoured, thereby progressively introducing their readers into a synthetic in-group 'community'. Riley refers to this as a 'membershipping' strategy, explaining: 'Social identity is made up of a configuration of memberships and each membership is knowledge-and-language based… each individual's identity is made from… “a moral narrative”… consisting of the experiences and knowledge acquired as a member of that configuration of groups'. (Riley, p. 113)

It should be noted that 'knowledge', in this sense, is a sociolinguistic construct rather than an empirically observable phenomenon. It is the story told by a particular culture to, as it were, put its collective mind at rest regarding any potentially worrying issue. For knowledge is, after all, only belief based on either what others have told us or our own experience. By way of example, humans thought they 'knew', for millennia, that the sun moved relative to a stable earth. Whether individuals had been taught this or had observed the sky long enough to have 'seen' the sun slowly moving across it for themselves, the matter seemed beyond question. And, yet, it wasn't so.

Hodge & Kress (p. 151) illustrate further by reference to an Aboriginal subculture. The harmony of the group in question, living on the outskirts of Darwin, Australia, is traditionally maintained by the adoption of a united position on any significant disagreement. Once this version of the truth, known as 'the word', becomes official, the group can then speak as one. Any individual refusing to accept 'the word' can if necessary be excluded from the community, thereby eliminating dissenting versions. While this may at first be surprising, our British social network in fact functions quite similarly, whether thanks to the legal decisions of a court or, more informally, as we move in and out of various social circles, leaving voluntarily or being excluded when we refuse to accept the equivalent of 'the word' as defined by others. The notion is more explicit in certain other cultures. In north-western Morocco, for instance, the world is divided into family and friends, on the one hand, and 'outsiders' (the Arabic word may be transliterated as 'beranieen', from 'berah' outside), on the other. The author has witnessed visitors knocking at house doors and, upon being questioned, replying that they are people who are 'close', i.e. not outsiders.

By constantly introducing readers to new 'friends' and 'outsiders', newspaper reader 'communities' can also be constructed in a similar way. For instance The Sun of 24th September 1981 linked a Page 3 glamour model with the Royal Family in the person of Prince Andrew, then in the RAF, by juxtaposing their photos on the page, thereby combining the stereotypes of 'sexy' girl and 'heroic' boy into a friends role-model team. Meanwhile The Sun's political opponents, who in 1981 were primarily Labour left-wingers such as Tony Benn, conveniently slotted into the role of 'outsiders'. The newspaper continues to choose its readers' positive and negative role models for them as a parent might encourage a child to befriend certain children but not others because they are, say, Catholics or Protestants, as the case may be. (Riley, p. 140)


By volume, newspapers are probably still the most read of all text types if we count their online versions, even though today's reader might have to deal more frequently with emails. The data for this investigation were taken from Britain's most popular newspaper, The Sun, daily selling approximately 3 million paper copies alone. The corpus analysed comprised ten issues of the whole newspaper from consecutive days (i.e. Monday through Saturday) in September 2008. At this point in time, a Labour government had been in power for eleven years but was visibly faltering in opinion polls. Then, in the autumn of 2009, The Sun publicly announced it was withdrawing its support from Labour and would henceforth support the Conservative Party. One might therefore predict that the articles in the corpus would reveal an ideology in a state of flux. It should be interesting to discover who was included among us and most especially interesting to see who was 'outsidered', as them.

An earlier study by the same author concluded that from 1991 to 2008 there were major changes in approach among the various Murdoch newspapers. In 1991 The Times and The Sun had divided a pro-Conservative agenda between them as follows: while The Times bolstered the then Tory government by according a disproportionate amount of space to its activities and pronouncements, The Sun concentrated on attacking the increasingly popular Labour opposition by ridiculing its leader, Neill Kinnock. These roles and also the language employed were clearly polarised in style and substance, with The Times posing as impartial and The Sun posing as disarmingly frank. By 2008, however, there had been a marked process of tabloidisation in the former and of broadsheetisation in the latter. It appeared that their styles were converging towards a style mixing formal and informal features and perhaps more akin to that of the American Time magazine.13

It was against this background that the present study became necessary. If The Sun had somewhat toned down its demagogic rhetoric of 1991 and could no longer be said to have a defined role in party-political terms, how could one gauge its ideological stance? One plausible answer seemed to be an analysis of the metaphorical types, particularly the 'friends' and 'outsiders' discussed above. The methodology was relatively simple. It involved:

1. identifying a set of leading metaphorical types;
2. searching for intertextual repetitions or transformations of these a) from one day's issue of The Sun to the next and b) from one page to others within the same issue;
3. determining whether these fitted positive or negative categories (us and them, respectively);
4. analysing what it was that linked given examples to a specific category;
5. formulating hypotheses as to the rhetorical motivation behind the use of these.


Approximately one in ten grammatical subjects in The Sun thematises a friend, while outsiders account for about one in every fifteen. Of the former there is a colourful range, from ordinary 'Brits' acting heroically to Royals and, most typically, soldiers or sportspeople considered to serve Britain well. What is perhaps surprising is that even these friends are often placed in a context of conflict, reinforcing the underlying polarity and increasing the pressure to conform by suggesting that there is no middle ground, that you are 'either for us or against us'. An example is:

LEWIS Hamilton and Andy Murray showed true Brit grit yesterday… They call it the bottle of Britain (The Sun, 8.9.08:8).

Here the achievements of the racing driver Lewis Hamilton and the tennis player Andy Murray are described in language that recalls World War II rather than an amicable sporting event. An illuminating co-text for the 'bottle of Britain' pun is to be found in The Sun's daily Striker comic strip, which shows that the paper remains nationalistically anti-European and provides a classic example of 'othering'. The on-going Striker story revolves around an overpaid German footballer whose accent is reminiscent of 1960's World War II movie villains. As a sample:

Nein – ve are ze victims… zat is vot zer police vill find out… (The Sun, 11.9.08:44).

Grouping friends and outsiders together in the same metaphorical package is more suggestive than if they are unrelated in the reader's mind. The link in this case is the key patriotic mechanism symbolised in the Battle of Britain. If there is any discernible agenda it is probably one of preserving Britain's alliance with the USA as the priority in foreign affairs and keeping its involvement with the EU to a minimum. It may be no coincidence that the Murdoch empire is now based in America.

As for 'outsiders', we shall see below that in September 2008 they were predominantly Islamic fundamentalists in the UK (eg nasty plotters, 9.9.08), criminals (eg callous Emma Last, 12.9.08), celebrities behaving badly (eg Amy Winehouse… the bongoed zombie, 13.9.08), old-style left-wingers (union dinosaurs, 9.9.08) or the pro-European Liberal Democrats (the sandal-wearers, 16.9.08). Through such choices as participant themes, and without necessarily adopting an overt political stance, The Sun clearly seeks to socialise the readership into its favoured ideological positions.


Central to othering, as well as to reader community building more generally, are discourse participants, which are grammatical subjects, or potential subjects, that present the writer in particularly high profile as a participant in the narrative (in this context, for example The Sun, or we) rather than hiding her/him in the role of omniscient narrator. These permit writer visibility14 to be manipulated, thanks to a phenomenon we could call referent slippage, or variation in the degree of inclusiveness. For instance, The Sun and we are both used to refer unambiguously to the paper itself, as in the example below from an article on utility costs:

The Sun will be watching to make sure energy firms don't pass on the costs (The Sun, 12.9.08:8).

Building on this, a commonly employed strategy is to blur the referent of we among a) the newspaper itself, b) a given group of people and c) the entire nation, as in:

In London, The Sun films Islamic fanatic Anjem Choudary ranting that Muslims must take over Britain and bring in Sharia law. We are at war in Afghanistan (The Sun, 13.9.08: 8).

In this example, the slippage in referent from the paper alone to the whole country is so abrupt, and the implied association between The Sun and the nation so strong, that an uncritical reader might be forgiven for imagining that the paper's staff were personally and physically fighting a war. Finally, disguised - or dummy – participants represent another form of referent slippage, as in They call it the bottle of Britain, above, where the Subject they appears prima facie to refer to third parties but is in fact a dummy referent expressing The Sun's own view.


1. The 12.9.2008 issue of The Sun

In this section, othering is exemplified and commented upon by reference especially to articles focusing on 'friends' and 'outsiders' which appear in juxtaposition. We begin with an article entitled Monsters' Ball on page 1, the bulk of which comprises a photo of women dressed up as Halloween vampires for a party in Holloway Prison. The Sun demonstrates its conservative perspective on what Chouliaraki15 refers to as 'the moral power of representation'. Its stance on crime and punishment has always been one in favour of retribution rather than rehabilitation. Criminals are condemned uncompromisingly simply because they 'are' criminals and all thinking appears to end there. Any possibility that a party for prisoners might conceivably help improve their attitude for the day when they re-enter civil society is ignored, as is the fact that the £500 spent on 30 inmates - presented here as a scandalous waste of taxpayers' money - actually works out at less than £17 per head. The Sun's arguments in fact appear depressingly wooden until one realises that this event and the individuals involved are merely token 'outsiders', symbolic of the outgroup and, in this case, representative of an anti-model, or unholy 'family'. Comments by the paper include:

'sickest jail knees-up ever'
'a horror-themed party for some of Britain's most evil killers'
'lifers-only bash which cost tax-payers £500… outraged staff at London's Holloway Prison'
'an insult to victims' families'
'It was obscene' (The Sun, 12.9.2008:1).

A larger article on pages 4-5, under the title 'Slammer House of Horror' provides an ideal outsiders icon. Occupying a full double page spread, it principally comprises the same photo of Holloway lifers (see 'Monsters' Ball', above), enlarged and complete with arrows from the main picture to smaller photos of the individual women around the outside, as well as short texts outlining their crimes. It is doubtful whether the information provided justifies the label some of Britain's most evil killers. For instance, Alison Walder killed a man while he was fighting with her boyfriend, an act which in other circumstances might possibly have drawn praise for courage or loyalty. Clearly the 'news' details are less important from the paper's point of view than their suitability as symbolic outsiders. The paper's comments are all in the style of:

'TWISTED Amie Bartholomew…'
'CALLOUS Emma Last…' (The Sun, 12.9.2008:4-5).

This double-page 'monster' feature is juxtaposed with a double-page 'heroes' feature based on Theo Walcott's hat-trick in England's 4:1 football victory over Croatia. On the very next pages after the Holloway lifers, the Walcotts are portrayed as an ideal family, compared to the lifers as a holy family versus an unholy family. Texts entitled The Mum, The Dad and The Girlfriend serve as evidence that this family includes all the right members to make it an intact domestic unit. In contradistinction, the title, Wonderboy Walcott, by his Loved Ones, particularly the words 'Loved Ones', implies that the Holloway 'monsters' are creatures of hate, even though one suspects that Walder's motive in defending her boyfriend might have been a more positive one.

Two pages later, outsidering turns to a different social ill. A cartoon and caption under the heading Amy moves to a Farm depict the singer Amy Winehouse as a scarecrow in a field. Two farmers are leaning over the gate to the field and one says to the other:

'I won't hear a word against her! Since she arrived… no more crows!' (The Sun, 12.9.2008:8).

The Sun's rather old-fashioned morality is on display in this and similar instances of what it considers to be celebrities behaving badly. Its authoritarianism can ome across as jarring when one recalls that the paper rose to pre-eminence itself by baring young breasts on Page 3, an activity perhaps not so far removed from the exuberant antics of certain modern celebrities. Given that Winehouse's reason for moving to the countryside was to lead a healthier life, avoiding drugs and other temptations of the city, it is arguably regrettable that The Sun's message was not more encouraging. At times its outsidering, which it probably intends to be a 'moral' stance, looks more like a vicious vendetta for its own sake.

2. The 13.9.2008 issue of The Sun

The following day's issue of The Sun stays with the theme of substance abuse (intertextually carried over from 12th September) on the front page in an article entitled Gazza Drugs Overdose. This focuses on the plight of former England footballer Paul Gascoigne, who is hospitalised following an overdose. The rhetoric is less harsh than that directed against Winehouse. It includes:

'Exclusive: Agony of legend'
'… pills and booze binge'
'The fallen soccer idol' (The Sun, 13.9.2008:1).

However, the discourse links back to the scarecrow cartoon of the previous day and forward to a feature on page 3 of the same issue, which compares Gascoigne with Gary Lineker, his colleague in the 1990 England football team. Despite the fact that Gascoigne had almost died, the implication appears to be that there is still hope for him, perhaps because The Sun classifies his abuse as less brazen or wilful than Winehouse's or because it dares not attack an ex-football hero beloved of so many too fiercely. Alternatively, the newspaper might consider the behaviour of Winehouse to be more serious simply because she is a woman. At any rate the comparison of Gascoigne with Gary Lineker is the most explicit instance of outsidering vis-à-vis the preferred model in this Sun corpus. The central argument is expressed as follows:

'18 years on from their defining World Cup moment… Gary's a rich, healthy television star with a beautiful fiancée… Gazza – Now a sad, lonely alcoholic without a job and in hospital' (The Sun, 13.9.2008:3).

Again, it is striking that Page Three, once a controversial feature attacked for damaging the quality and reputation of journalism, is deemed appropriate for such conservative moralising. Here it permits a comparison of the two ex-footballers, who are assigned to the in-group and the out-group, respectively. The Page Three photo - in this case a swim-suited Danielle Bux, Lineker's fiancée, rather than the usual topless model - therefore functions as an ideological site with varying associations rather than merely a titillating end in itself.

What one should note here is that Gazza is not a classic 'outsider' in the strongest sense of an outright enemy, although for the newspaper he is clearly an anti-role model to Lineker's positive example. The words sad and lonely suggest that he is to be pitied rather than attacked as a force for evil. This begs the question whether our analysis requires an additional category for people who are neither (or no longer) 'us', nor 'them'. Gazza is a prime example of an ex-hero whom The Sun has no great wish to cast as an 'outsider', who is nevertheless at risk of crossing into that category. It might usefully enhance a critical discourse analysis of outsidering to include what we could call a 'warned' or 'on-trial' group between the in-group and the out-group. Members of this group would comprise those who have been 'us' but are at least temporarily suspended, like ice-hockey players who are sent off for a fixed time after committing fouls, or like footballers who have received a yellow card and risk being sent off definitively if they reoffend.

From the outsidering of ex-heroes deemed guilty of 'wrong' behaviour, we progress to a category whose members are, for The Sun, apparently 'wrong' people in themselves, namely islamists. Following on intertextually from an editorial on page 8 of the same issue, which includes the above cited mention of Choudary as an Islamic fanatic and the assertion that 'We are at war in Afghanistan' (which seems to imply that for a Muslim to be keen on Islam is, in the circumstances, unpatriotic), there is an article entitled We need more Muslim Babies… then we can take over Britain. This is accorded two pages (12-13), indicating that, like the Holloway 'criminals' who also received a double page spread, these particular 'outsiders' are taken very seriously. In fact, the islamists are arguably taken so seriously that the usual puns and jokes become scarce. Four Muslim clerics, including Choudary, attending a conference are photographed from quite close up. Excerpts from the accompanying text include:

'A HATE fanatic has boasted that Muslims will one day conquer Britain – by having more babies'
'Undercover Sun investigators secretly recorded [an Islamist] telling a young and impressionable audience that they would eventually rule under strict Sharia law… Last night Scotland Yard asked The Sun for a copy of our video showing Choudary and Islam's rants. Cops from SO15, the Yard's Counter-Terrorism Command, will study the footage… to see if any laws were breached' (The Sun, 13.9.2008:12-13).

That this is outsidering is abundantly clear from the expression hate fanatic. Moreover it is revealing of the police's stance, as well as The Sun's, that they are looking 'to see if any laws were breached', i.e. seeking a potential charge where there may be none, as opposed to responding to an already committed known offense. Attempting to have babies hardly qualifies as a crime, after all. Nor does the photo of the four clerics in a row appear as menacing as the tone of the article might lead us to expect. At any rate, the iconicity of the unholy family is unmistakable. The presumption that some crime may have been committed suffices to link the four clerics to the Holloway prisoners, and thus to the outgroup, thematically. More than this, The Sun's purported active role, suggesting that it is almost doing the work of the police in protecting the British public from islamists, seems to imply that the newspaper will save the country. What is surprising is that, by extension, The Sun is publicly trumpeting a claim that it is performing the task of outsidering for us.

At the right-hand edge of the same feature on the clerics, a different Muslim view to Choudary's is expressed by Anila Baig. In her article My View, she states:

'You [Choudary] betray the millions of Muslims who live peacefully in this country and want nothing to do with killing and destruction' (The Sun, 13.9.2008:13).

This can therefore be seen as a case of reinforced or 'double' outsidering of the islamists, by The Sun and by Anila Baig simultaneously. Again, it appears somewhat excessive to even indirectly equate Choudary's encouragement for Muslims to have more babies with Baig's 'killing and destruction'. However, it clarifies The Sun's rhetoric. The underlying message is not merely that islamists are to be counted among 'them' rather than 'us', but that they are the people against whom the UK is fighting a war.

Two pages later, an article entitled Party's over again links back to the previous day's Monsters' Ball and Slammer house of horror features. It suggests that the British Government acts at The Sun's cue, in this case in putting a stop to parties like that disapproved of by the newspaper. An official-looking stamp which reads Party's over is shown partially cancelling out the same photo used on page 1 of the 12.9.08 issue. Thus, intertextuality pertains both among texts and photos. It also pertains among claims. As the article on the islamists claimed that The Sun was doing the work of the police, this article claims that the paper even does the work of the government:

'Jack straw BANNED jail parties yesterday after The Sun told how women killers held a sick Monsters' Ball'
'Mr Straw acted after we published chilling pictures of more than half a dozen vicious murderers at a gruesome fancy dress party' (The Sun, 13.9.2008:15).

A final noteworthy instance of outsidering in The Sun of 13th September 2008 is found under the heading Winehouse of Horror. References have thus advanced from 'Hammer House of Horror' to 'Slammer House of Horror', to 'Winehouse of Horror', the word 'monster' making this thematic link more explicit:

'AMY WINEHOUSE looked a right fright on her latest night out. The bongoed zombie took to London's Camden with monster mate' (The Sun, 13.9.2008:18).


The Sun's general strategy of ideological dissemination through role modelling has hardly altered for decades. It notably includes outsidering as a central strategy. 'Friends' and 'outsiders' are compared ever more explicitly, as with Gascoigne and Lineker. What is more, the caricatures of those who incur the paper's disapproval seem to be increasingly extreme. The horror metaphor at first looks like a joke and the multiple associations created by the journalists are, indeed, most impressive. In the end, however, this strategy pushes the discourse in the direction of ever greater hyperbole, or overkill, and is arguably weakening in effect. Perhaps, as suggested, a third role-model category ('on-trial') is needed, both to accommodate individuals such as Gazza, who are in between 'us' and 'them', and also to modify the sometimes excessively stereotyped rhetoric.

Meanwhile the newspaper's own role in its narrative is ever more interventionist. Whether with regard to the threat of Islamic fundamentalism or what it sees as the overly lenient treatment of prisoners, The Sun does not hesitate to depict itself as a prime mover. This may be overt, as in The Sun will be watching… It may be blurred, as with the referent slippage of its discourse participants. It may also be disguised, as in They call it the bottle of Britain. To conclude, outsidering requires not only a mechanism for categorizing the in-group and the out-group, but also a mechanism for varying the narrator's point of view. A final comment, in this regard, relates to the long-held concern of media reformers such as Frank Allaun (1988) that 'voice' is accorded to only a select few, or that too great a proportion of the British press is controlled by too few people, and that this is arguably unhealthy for democracy. Allaun warns:

'It may be acceptable for one or two people to control the margarine factories, but is it acceptable for one or two people to dominate our way of thinking?'16


1 Norman Fairclough, Language and Power (London: Longman, 2001), p.30.

2 Danuta Reah, The Language of Newspapers (London: Routledge, 2002), p.3.

3Allan Bell, The Language of News Media (Oxford: Blackwells, 1991), p.212.

 4Norman Fairclough, Discourse and Social Change (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994), p. 110.

 5Sik H. Ng & James J. Bradac, Power in Language: Verbal Communication and Social Influence (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1993), p. 7.

6 Jacques Lacan, Ecrits (Paris: Seuil, 1977).

7Simone de Beauvoir, Le Deuxième Sexe (Paris: Gallimard, 1949).

8Jacques Derrida, L'Ecriture et la différence (Paris: Seuil, 1967).

9Toril Moi, Sexual/Textual Politics (London & New York: Routledge, 1985), p. 106.

10Louis Althusser, 'Ideology and state ideological apparatuses (notes towards an investigation)' in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays by L. Althusser, trans. by B. Brewster (London: New Left Books, 1971), pp. 278-329.

11Robert Hodge & Gunther Kress, Social Semiotics (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2006), p. 151.

12Philip Riley, Language, Culture and Identity (London: Continuum, 2007), p. 49.

13 Thomas Hawes, 'Thematic Progression and Rhetoric in Sun and Times Editorials: 1991-2008', in Rice Working Papers in Linguistics (Texas: USA, 2, 2010), pp. 39-51 (pp.49-50).

14Florence Davies, 'Reading between the lines: thematic choice as a device for presenting writer viewpoint in academic discourse', in ESPecialist (9, 1/2, 1990), pp. 173-200.

15Lilie Chouliaraki, 'The media as moral education: mediation and action', in Media Culture & Society (30, 2008), pp. 831-853 (p. 832).

16Frank Allaun, Spreading the News: A guide to media reform (Nottingham: Russell, 1988), p. 17.

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