Anorak News | Go Figure

Go Figure

by | 12th, December 2003

‘NEWSPAPERS love figures. Not necessarily the curvy figures of “crackin’ college twins” Rebecca and Sarah Addison who adorn the front page of the Star, but figures as in numbers.

Demi and her Action Man

Curvy numbers like eight, but also pencil thin numbers like one. Top heavy ones like nine and bottom heavy ones like six. And not just numbers, but percentages.

That is why PR companies spend so much of their time doing surveys on how many times a week we have sex or whether we’ve cheated on our partner or how often we tell lies to get off work.

[The answer to the above, to save any telemarketer the cost of a phone call, is none, chance would be a fine thing and, er, could you call back when my boss isn’t standing over me.]

PR agencies know that the easiest way to get their client a little bit of exposure in the papers is to sponsor just such a survey.

For instance, over the past few days we have learned – courtesy of Lloyds TSB and Working Families – that 20% of us have a boss from hell; courtesy of Axa, that the average British child has £3,3000 of gadgets and clothing in their bedroom; and, courtesy of That’s Life! Magazine, that most women are liars.

Someone once described a statistician as the sort of person who tries to estimate your phone number, but some statistics paint a picture far more interesting than the bare numbers would suggest.

However, the opposite is also true and this morning the Mail provides us with a classic example on its front page.

“OFFICIAL: One in four brides now marries a younger man,” it says with a picture of a smiling Joan Collins and husband Percy Gibson.

Now, we will forgive you if you have not choked on your cornflakes in shock at this distinctly underwhelming piece of news.

But the Mail is so excited by the news that it has commissioned Fay Weldon, herself married to a man 18 years her junior, to write a piece on it.

“Headline writers will, I know, be unable to resist the word ‘toyboy’,” she says, “but to describe these young men as such is, I believe, an insult to their pride, intelligence and character.”

And so we turn to the Mail’s story, illustrated by pictures of Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher and Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, and look at the headline.

“The Toyboy Husbands,” it says, suggesting that the study which shows that the number of women marrying ‘toyboy’ husbands has doubled in the past 40 years is “a reversal of traditional marriage roles”.

Hardly. It’s just taken women a lot longer to figure out what men have known for years – if the good die young, best get in early.’

Posted: 12th, December 2003 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink