Until moving here, I always pictured the British as posh, refined people eating cucumber sandwiches and delicately sipping their china cups of tea. That my vision applied to only about 10 per cent of the population came as a harsh reality. And nowhere was this more evident than in the British tabloids.
While North America has its share of disreputable tabloids, I've never seen a country tear itself and its people to bits like in the British tabloids. Take, for example, the News of the World, who today features reality television star Jade Goody in all her glory. Jade has cancer, and the tabloid can't wait to spill all the gory details. Or if terminal illness doesn't do it for you, you can cast your vote for the biggest chav in show business! Chav, for anyone not familiar with UK vernacular, stands for Council Housing and Violent -- or the North American equivalent, white trash.
A lesser offender is the Daily Mail -- again with the Jade Goody tale along with the prerequisite photo of Victoria Beckham. I have to confess that I do read the Femail section sometimes, although I feel a mix of resentment at the paper for forcing me into the demographic of women who read such stories and resentment at myself for reading them.
And if you can't get enough voyeurism through the papers, there's always the telly! A few weeks ago, a show called Fat Teens in Love was on ITV1. "Bobby has a decision to make – will he put butter or mayonnaise on his chicken baguette?" Or if that doesn't do it for you, how about The World's Most Enhanced Woman and Me, on tonight in Channel 4? Or Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, on BBC?
From the lofty heights of the BBC to the dark depths of Heat Magazine, Britain is certainly a nation of journalistic contrasts.