Dire Dyer and the Zoo advice column

// 11 May 2010

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askdanny.gifThe Danny Dyer advice column controversy is still ongoing, as Dyer and Zoo Magazine are squabbling over who can distance themselves fastest from an ‘Ask Danny’ segment which saw Dyer advise ‘jokingly’ that a reader should “cut your ex’s face, and then no one will want her”.

Zoo Magazine contended that it was down to a “production error”, Dyer claimed in the Sun he was “misquoted”. Zoo contends it was an accurate quote. And meanwhile Alex Woolliscroft, the letter-writer who Dyer was replying to, is also seeking an apology.

Zoo has promised to make a “substantial” donation to Women’s Aid, has cancelled the Dyer column and promised to use that space in the next issue to draw attention to the issue of violence against women.

In some ways this is refreshing, but, as Kira Cochrane pointed out, concern over this one column should not obscure the fact it was not particularly out of place in the pages of Zoo. For example:

And on a page entitled: “The 21 Funniest Jokes of the Week” – an unequivocal heading there – is a gag that echoes Dyer’s comment. “My ex came round last night,” it reads. “She was crying, so I told her to keep her chin up. It made it a lot easier to get the noose on.”

Some coverage of the Dyer affair from around the blogs:

Harpymarx, ‘Danny Dyer’s laughable apology’

sian and crooked rib, ‘Complain about Danny Dyer endorsing domestic violence’

Shakesville, ‘Hmm’

feminist webs, ‘Danny Dyer recommends “slash your ex’s face” in Zoo magazine

We Mixed Our Drinks, ‘Bits and pieces: Dyer, Women Speak Out and Philippa Stroud

Comments From You

Gappy // Posted 11 May 2010 at 3:30 pm

What surprised me most about the furore over Dyers advice was that anyone was surprised. Zoo magazine is chock full of rank misogyny week in, week out, and whilst it may be unusual to see such an open advocacy of violence against women, it is nevertheless a magazine that consistently portrays women as being little more than decorative toys for men to use and abuse.

Elmo // Posted 11 May 2010 at 5:11 pm

No one even mentioned the rest of the advice Dyer gave this guy, which includes “smashing anything that moves”. Lovely jubbly

coldharbour // Posted 11 May 2010 at 8:26 pm

People that buy Zoo can read? I thought they just grinned inanely at the photoshopped approximations of human beings that cover the pages for hours on end.

Melissa // Posted 11 May 2010 at 8:46 pm

He’s just one of those men who thinks status is an ability to demean women. A decent man knows status is about hurting those ‘bigger than him’ – so when he mouths off about cutting people’s faces up he gets his own face cut up. Status is then properly warranted.

What I hate about this is Zoo’s reactions – ‘it wasn’t us, we *hate* violence against women. We can keep the boobs right?’

Because this violence towards women was in the form of advice instead of an ‘ironic joke’ – everyone takes a stand. I’m stick of something as meagre as ‘it was irony’ used to draw the line with what’s acceptable and not acceptable. Sexism had to be in an advice column in the form of suggested violence for anyone to take it seriously.

Most people don’t even know the meaning of ironic – sexism goes a bit far, just say ‘irony’. Same with ‘free speech’ -the meaning is completely lost when those shouting about it are given the largest platform like ‘Zoo’ – and those offended are the ones that continually get their voices shouted down. So it’s ‘preferential speech’, – ‘As a privileged person I’m allowed to stay privileged and be offensive without being bothered by others’. This has become law when the government approves of free speech for lad’s mags.

People like Zoo complain they’re being bothered by those offended, and that this is an automatic crime.

Kelly // Posted 11 May 2010 at 9:39 pm

Apparently it includes a joke about hanging women in this issue…

sianmarie // Posted 12 May 2010 at 9:04 am

gappy – well, people do protest against the content in zoo. i’ve done a lad’s mag flyering protest and object often cover up the mags on a feminist friday. but there is always the difficulty of complaining about zoo et al in the mainstream media because the endlessly repeated criticism raise their ugly heads – ‘you’re a prude’ ‘the women are exploiting the men’ ‘the women choose this – aren’t you meant to be pro woman’ blah blah blah. for exmaple, kira cochrane wrote an article raising the point that zoo is inherently misogynstic and people couldn’t make those points fast enough! one person even said she was being ‘classist’ because zoo was a ‘working class magazine’ (which was so unbelievably patronising and actually the most classist thing anyone could say!)

but the dyer issue – what he actually said could be considered incitement to violence, incitement to hatred, which is illegal (i think). so it meant that people could criticise zoo and the article, and raise the issue of misogyny within the publication, without those usual criticisms being brought out on parade. people who did answer back with hte irony and joke defence were quickly derided for being supportive of incitement to gender violence. hopefully we can capitalise on this and keep pushing to expose the horrific women hatred in zoo and continue to push the circulation figures way down.

Colin // Posted 12 May 2010 at 7:20 pm

I did my undergraduate dissertation on lad mags back in 1998, using FHM as my main source material. Things were bad enough then, but with the advent of Nuts & Zoo in the past decade or so, there seems to be an even greater level of casual misogyny than before.

As a working-class bloke, I find the idea that these vile rags somehow represent an ‘authentic’ version of working-class masculinity totally laughable. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that the vast majority of their readership is made up of middle-class blokes, often educated to degree level, who are desperately trying, for one reason or another, to buy into a pathetic fantasy of machismo.

And whilst it’s all too easy to dismiss the readers of lad mags as saddoes who can’t get a girlfriend, I see a depressing number of couples on trains where the girl is reading the latest Heat/Grazia/Cosmo or whatever, whilst her boyfriend has his head buried in the latest edition of Nuts, Zoo or whatever.

Mercy // Posted 12 May 2010 at 8:30 pm

Anyone see Barbara Ellen’s column in The Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/09/barbara-ellen-danny-dyer)? She made the distinction between the original Loaded magazine which celebrated a working class male culture and the likes of Zoo which mistake laddism for misogyny.

sianmarie // Posted 13 May 2010 at 9:16 am

colin – i totally agree. plus i think it’s so disgusting when people say ‘oh well, you and me might not like it, but it reflects working class culture so we can’t criticise it,’ as if working class people are a different species! just as there are many sexist, women-hating people in all classes, so there are pro woman, feminist minded people in all classes.

i couldn’t believe my eyes when i read this comment on the guardian. it was so patronising and so classist, although don’t know why i expect better from CIF.

Vinnie // Posted 13 May 2010 at 11:09 am

An undergraduate dissertation on lad mags using FHM as source material..?!

No wonder so many people think the Brit education system has gone to hell in a handbag.

Elmo // Posted 13 May 2010 at 11:28 am

Agree Colin and Sianmarie. Im also appalled that Dyer and Zoo even bothered to pretend its some sort of mistake, that got through the radar. No. They knew what they were printing.

Suzie Bee // Posted 13 May 2010 at 6:18 pm

I’m just surprised that anyone is surprised. I’m sure a brief look through that issue of Zoo would have revealed misogyny leaping off every page! It’s a pervasive culture which is just occasionally exposed by isolated incidents of outrage. Dommage…

Liam Barrington-Bush // Posted 9 June 2010 at 10:09 am

Thanks for providing a space for this! As you said, there was plenty of other offensive material to choose from in that issue – glad at least some of it managed to spark a bit of protest!

…As vile as Danny Dyer and the Zoo lot are, I can proudly say that some of us have turned the offensive commentary, his flop of a new film, ‘PIMP’ + some online technology, into an off-the-cuff fundraising campaign that has tripled PIMP’s opening weekend box office take, in donations to Solace Women’s Aid!

Feel free to check out the fundraising page, make a donation, and share it around here:


Or read my write-up of how it happened, here:


Always nice when a silver lining can emerge from such a nasty situation!

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