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Hard news is like hard porn

By Tony Foster

"Hard news is like hard porn," Tim says, hovering his cursor over a thumbnail of two mullahs gesticulating at a mosque.
 "Interesting," I concede, ripping the film from our sharing platter. "If a touch ‘earthy’ for a lunch topic."
 He shrugs, making the customary beeline for stuffed bell peppers.
 I spork an anchovy. "OK, I'll bite. How?"
 He licks each point in turn off cream cheese fingers. "Vicarious. Gratuitous. Extremist. Invasive. And it's always bad."
 I twiddle my breadstick like Herbert Von Karajan, about to conduct the Philharmonic. "Isn't that true about most spectator sports? And what's so bad about porn? Apart from the obligatory pint of throat yogurt."

Apart from the obligatory pint of throat yogurt

I timed that for his Yakult moment. It goes down in a thick gulp. "See what you did there."
 I raise my bottle of J2O with a 'you started it' smile. "No-one's forcing you. You can switch them off."
 He spears a Halkidiki olive. "That's my point - we can't. They both involve a grotesque bombardment of imagery we're inured to but can't look away from. Something springs out of it we respond to - base urge or insufficient rage."
 I consider his argument while melting a big parmesan shaving on my tongue, then creaming my throat in three brisk swallows as he continues surfing, mouse a blur of vapour trails. "Hasn’t the news has been in competition with entertainment since forever?"


"Infotainment?"

 "True dat." He puts his Ciabatta down to do air quotes. "Infotainment."
 "So since when is it as addictive as porn?"
He makes an expansive gesture with the hummus pot. "I dunno. Nine-eleven?"




Tony Foster is an award-winning playwright and novelist from Manchester, England. He is also an editor, critic and academic, currently studying for his Ph.D. in Creative Writing. He enjoys fine Rioja, broody skylines and long walks with his two Alaskan Malamutes.

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