Zoo’s “production error” is nothing of the sort

I’ve worked at magazines. I know how many layers of editorial copy needs to pass through before it gets onto a printed page. So when something like Danny Dyer’s advice column in Zoo appears in print, it’s not by accident.

For anyone who’s not seen it yet (and for future reference!) here’s the text of the column:

Ask Danny

I’m 23, not a bad-looking bloke with a decent job, but I broke up with my missus a few months ago and can’t get over her. She seems to be doing fine. Any advice?
Alex, Manchester

You’ve got nothing to worry about, son. I’d suggest going out on the rampage with the boys, getting on the booze and smashing anything that moves. Then when some bird falls for you, you can turn the tables and break her heart. Of course, the other option is to cut your ex’s face, and then no one will want her…

(See it here.)

The first part is gross enough, with Dyer suggesting Alex goes out ‘smashing anything that moves’ and deliberately sets out to break some poor girl’s heart in some bizarre, misguided retaliation against his ex, but then he goes on to suggest that he cuts his ex’s face to disfigure her.

Let’s put one argument to bed right here and now: this is not a joke. There’s nothing funny about it. It might not have been meant seriously, and I’m sure neither Dyer nor Zoo actually want their readers to actually do what they suggested. But that doesn’t excuse printing it. It’s vile.

As outrage erupted on Twitter, Zoo was forced to respond. A Bauer spokeswoman told the Guardian:

“Due to an extremely regrettable production error, an inappropriate and indefensible response to a letter has appeared in this week’s issue. Zoo editor, Tom Etherington, apologises unreservedly for any offence the response may have caused and has launched an internal enquiry to ensure lessons are learnt.

Zoo and Danny Dyer condemn any violence against women. A donation will be made to Women’s Aid.”

It’s a good start — the donation to Women’s Aid is a particularly nice touch — but I call bullshit. A “production error”? What, the words magically appeared on the page all by themselves? No, they didn’t. Someone (almost certainly not Dyer) wrote them, and someone else (almost certainly several someone elses) signed off on them. That response was deemed acceptable to appear in that magazine by several members of its staff, and I’m afraid Etherington, as editor, ultimately has to take responsibility for it.

And then there’s this, from another issue of Zoo:

Ask Danny

I’ve been seeing a new bird. She likes a laugh and a good bevy and she’s great in bed – but she’s got stubbly legs and doesn’t keep her munt trim either. Any advice?
John, Glasgow

I’m quite a fan of the furry muff, but if it’s running down the thighs, you’ve got to get rid of that bird lively. It all depends on the face. If that’s ropey, just give her the elbow. And maybe set light to the muff hair. That stuff goes up quick, like a thatched roof.

(See it here.)

This isn’t a one-off. This kind of repulsive misogyny is what Danny Dyer puts his name to, and Zoo publishes, and over 100,000 people buy, every week. I hope that the attention this column is currently receiving will lead to something actually happening. People need to realise that this is not okay. Zoo has had to apologise already — now let’s see if anything changes.

Update: Zoo has dropped Danny Dyer’s column, and there’s an internal investigation going on. Hmmmm.

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