Updated: January 30, 2014 6:28AM
To many in Great Britain, there is something delicious about picking up a newspaper on a busy crowded street, flipping to page three and ogling a nice young lady’s bare breasts.
“Page 3,” a feature since 1970 in Britain’s best-selling newspaper, The Sun, comes under attack, not surprisingly, from time to time. The latest campaign, “No More Page 3,” is gaining steam, with 131,000 names on an online petition asking The Sun’s editor to drop a feature that many consider degrading, offensive and embarrassing.
They’re right, of course. Even during the 2012 Olympics in London, when women were breaking world records, the topless images trumped all else in the Sun, prompting the latest campaign.
But consider an even more compelling argument: Page 3 is so old hat.
In the Internet era, with an avalanche of softcore porn a mere click away, why on Earth does The Sun hold on to this relic of the 1970s?
Even the paper’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, not known for his high-minded taste, expressed doubts in February. In response to a tweet calling Page 3 “so last century,” Murdoch said, “You maybe right, don’t know but considering.” The Sun began publishing the topless shots after Murdoch bought the paper.
The Sun sticks with the cheesecake, of course, because its editors think the photos sell papers. Even in our wired society, Page 3 offers a certain convenience. Sticking it to the supposedly politically correct crowd also may be part of the appeal.
But the arguments against publishing softcore porn in a general circulation newspaper, even if the women do it happily, grow only stronger.
A legislative ban, as has been proposed, is ill-advised. That’s not what free societies do. But it is entirely reasonable not to buy the paper and to encourage others to do the same, speaking with your pocketbook.
If all else fails, Murdoch’s immense sense of self-regard ultimately could kill off Page 3.
Why would a man who prides himself on being modern and forward-thinking want to publish a newspaper stuck in the Dark Ages?