Saturday, 3 July 2010

When bullshit attacks

Back in the early 1960s, as he was busy terrorising Tippi Hedren with a room full of angry crows, Alfred Hitchcock couldn't possibly have imagined that he was in fact creating an entire new sub-genre of horror.

Since The Birds hit the silver screen, the human race has been besieged by a steady progression of killer sharks, bees, snakes, spiders, slugs, bears, ants, Orcas, piranhas, crocodiles, dogs, birds, lions and even rabbits (seriously - check out Night of the Lepus. Actually, on second thoughts, don't).

Although the quality of these films ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, many of them carry an ecological message, implying that mother nature is seeking revenge on mankind for upsetting the environmental balance. This 'reap what you sew' theme allows exploitation film-makers to convince themselves that their opus is actually a hard-hitting metaphor, and not just a bunch of screaming day-players being terrorised for 90 minutes by an unconvincing animatronic beastie.

But in the great tradition of life imitating art, the UK news media has been re-appropriating this meme to convince the British public that we're under attack from a terrifying new natural foe. And racially targeted screening in the nation's airports won't help us in this particular fight.

In a series of increasingly hysterical (in both senses of the word) articles, the Mail in particular has been raising the 'terror alert' to orangey-red, wholly appropriate given that this latest threat to national security is Vulpes vulpes (otherwise known as the unremarkable British fox).

That's right - forget about Osama Bin Laden or Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Basil Brush wants to eat your babies and shit all over your expensive sofa. Better to just lock your doors and windows, and hide under the dining table until armageddon.

Things all kicked off when an urban fox found its way into the East London bedroom of nine-month-old twins, Isabella and Lola Koupparis. Although the two girls suffered some horrific bites from the ursine intruder, they seem to be recovering well four weeks after the attack. However, the twins' parents are much more traumatised and have been forced to relive their terrifying ordeal in a number of press and TV interviews.

Meanwhile, it seems that anyone who has even seen a fox, or read a children's book by Roald Dahl, has come forward with their own horrifying tale. The Mail ran an entire story about Gerald McGivern who had a 'nightmarish' brush with a fox that "wasn't aggressive" but did sit on his window sill for a bit.

Similarly, the paper even commissioned Ben Douglas to detail his own descent into a maelstrom of fear as a fox entered his house and soiled his immaculate living room. Apparently, the "carnage" caused by Douglas' unwanted intruder proved too much to bear, and he eventually had to "move house to escape the memories." Well, he did make the point that "a lifetime of dance training means I am light on my feet." Especially in loafers.

Now another woman has come forward to claim that she was bitten on the foot, on two separate occasions, by a fox that had found its way into her bedroom. Showing off the kind of hideous injury that would have our war-wounded feeling guilty for making such a fuss, Natasha David claims that the fox must have snuck in as she let the cat out. Presumably, it nicked her keys and had a spare copy cut so that it could let itself back in at a later date. Cunning is as cunning does.

It hasn't escaped the animal rights' movement's notice that these stories are popping up with an alarming regularity. Surely nothing to do with the fact that having the Conservatives back in (sort-of) power, is the best chance the pro-hunting lobby has of overturning the ban. Thankfully, the Mail has already anticipated that backlash, and has made sure that all animal welfare activists are portrayed as violent, misogynistic animals - even pointing out, apropos of nothing, "(and, oh yes, they're almost all on benefits)".

Despite the political ramifications of the fox debate, I would have thought the paper might have a little more empathy for the fuzzy orange beasts. After all, when it comes to vicious, unprovoked attacks, nobody does it quite like the Mail. After reading six articles in quick succession I feel like I need a tetanus shot.


  1. i think i love you. the fuss some of these people are making over their experiences with foxes is getting ridiculous.

  2. p0pvulture loves you too!
    Daily Mail is always such an easy target but this one was too good to miss

  3. aww, thanks :)