Anybody who has ever tried to take confectionary away from my children can tell you that “like taking candy from a baby” is a bad simile for something easy. They’re small, but those boys will take you down.

In the hunt for easy ways to add content to my blog, though, I see that “like making fun of people trying to find easy ways to add content to their blog/website/newspaper of record” is a winner.

We begin with Friday’s Times, where Danielle De Niese gives an interview which might have started off about her performance in La Calisto at the Bayerische Saatsoper, but certainly ended up as an excuse to print a picture of her in a leopard print leotard, talking about wearing a leopard print leotard. Top marks to Jack Malvern for understanding the job of the modern arts correspondent.

Enter the Daily Mail. Person-who-types Leon Watson* cherry picked some quotes, liberated them from the narrow confines of context, did extensive picture research, and handed it off to be published under the epic headline “Now opera gets sexy: singer who stripped down to a leopard print leotard says performers SHOULD embrace their sexuality (just not “desperate” Miley Cyrus)” which I’d say implied some hypocrisy if what was going on here was subtle enough to be called “implied”. Oh, and there are pictures, of course, because context is important, and the plot of the opera might be totally irrelevant but if there are sexy outfits, you need to see them for yourself.

Still, the human centipede of news has more than two segments, and this time it’s Parterre’s turn to be sewn face-first to the back end of the Daily Mail with the awe-inspiringly good headline, “Gesamtkunst-twerk“. By carefully cherry-picking from the out-of-context quotes already so skilfully cherry-picked by the Mail, the entire story is reduced to some imaginary hypocrisy and, of course, another picture of Danni in leopard print.

Haters gonna hate, the Daily Mail’s gonna write insane bullshit and no opera blog could reasonably be expected to pass up that headline, but it would have been nice if, somewhere at the front of the centipede, a genuinely thoughtful piece of commentary had happened.

I’m not sure there was ever a time when running a picture of an opera singer’s legs required a call to the director or the designer, but it only takes a quick google image search to see that the costume is part of the production. If you’re going to ask somebody about the costumes in an opera, it would make sense to ask the person who gets to chose them. A decision got made. There was a rationale for it. Maybe you could find out what that is instead of padding your word-count with nonsense.

If you find yourself asking the question “Do you feel the music industry can be exploitative?” then try harder. Of course it can. We know that. It’s about the only thing we do know for sure about the music industry.

If you’re going to write a story about (not even particularly) skimpy costumes, ask yourself if that story would ever see the light of day without the (free) pictures you plan to run alongside it. If not, maybe there’s a way to write a better story.

It wouldn’t have taken much research to give yourself the excuse to use the words “lesbian nymph” in a headline.**

You might ask presenters if they think this helps sell tickets. You might look at other art forms to see how similar characters are portrayed. You might look at how this fits into the story. You might look to see if the director or designer have a history of this sort of thing. You might tell us how long the costume in question is on stage. You might tell us some facts or present contrasting opinions. You might do something more than type.

There was an intelligent piece of commentary to be written here. This wasn’t it.

* Leon’s other briefly-headlined contributions for the Mail include “Bigfoot is real and he’s a fan of PEPPERONI! Man claims rolled-up pizza boxes outside his house prove existence of creature” and “World’s most ineligible bachelor: Iranian hasn’t had a wash in 60 years and smokes animal faeces (but whips up a mean decomposed porcupine!)” so you know it’s only a matter of time before this man gets his Pulitzer.

** The Mail would be kicking themselves if they knew they’d missed that one.


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