Once again the Daily Mail sets the standard for journalistic integrity, this time by commissioning a critic to condemn a film he hasn't even seen.
Deftly side-stepping the issue of 'unseen' reviews by publishing Christopher Hart's piece on Lars Von Trier's Antichrist under the banner of debate (rather than the reviews section where the film is also savaged by Chris Tookey), the Mail clearly has no problem running a story based on second-hand information.
In his critique, Hart decries "a movie that plumbs grotesque new depths of sexual explicitness and violence", stating proudly that he has not seen, nor has he any intention of seeing, the film which was nominated for the Golden Palm at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
He gamely argues that "You do not need to see Lars von Trier's Antichrist to know how revolting it is. As Ernest Hemingway said of obscenity... you don't need to eat a whole bowl of scabs to know they're scabs."
Which I suppose is true. The same as me saying that I don't need to read the Daily Mail to know that it's full of misleading propaganda, lazy assumptions and reactionary indignation.
Now this wouldn't be a Mail story without some reference to Eurocrats and tax-payers, so it comes as no surprise that Hart feels it is journalistic duty (unlike, say, actually watching the film he's reviewing) to 'find out more' from the Danish Film Institute which co-funded Von Trier's film. He never actually makes clear what he intends to discover, but when they fail to co-operate he lazily assumes that "you can be sure that they in turn are funded by the EU and so by my taxes - and yours."
Perhaps more ridiculously, Hart labels the film 'torture porn', despite the Mail's other review (posted by someone who had at least seen the film) stating "For a start, this is not torture porn."
In an era when film critics are becoming an endangered species thanks to cutbacks in newspaper publishing, perhaps Hart needs to try a little harder to represent his profession. With the chief movie reviewer for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops coming under fire for daring to give a positive review to the "homosexual propaganda film Brokeback Mountain" and Sony being sued in 2005 for inventing film critic David Manning to write bogus reviews, one might think that those who survive the cull would try to maintain the integrity of their chosen vocation. But then again, why try to apply logic to anyone associated with the Mail?