Thursday, April 26, 2012

AA Gill, drop the cheap jibes about Mary Beard – and learn something

Three years ago I took a stand against ageism at the BBC. The tide is now turning against those who judge by appearances

Mary Beard sitting on Ostia latrines in Rome
Mary Beard, the presenter of Meet the Romans, pictured in the ancient Roman public latrines of Ostia. Photograph: Caterina Turroni/BBC/Lion TV
The Sunday Times TV critic AA Gill refers to his girlfriend as "The Blonde", nothing more. I have idly wondered in the past why he chooses to describe her like this in his columns. Perhaps, because in our society, and particularly in the world of male one-upmanship, "blonde" has connotations of beauty, sex appeal and desirability. By stating so often that he has a "blonde" on his arm, Gill probably feels others will admire, respect, even envy him for attracting such a golden-haired trophy.

I write this because in my view it explains everything about the way Gill evaluates women. In his Sunday Times column this week he started his critique of BBC2's Meet the Romans by saying the presenter, Professor Mary Beard, "really should be kept away from cameras altogether". Why? "Because she's this far from being the subject of a Channel 4 dating documentary." Gill was obviously referring to Channel 4's recent controversial series The Undateables, about people with disabilities and their quest for love: a programme he described in a recent review as a "mocking freak show of grotesques and embarrassments".

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