Friday, November 30, 2007

Heat Magazine

On Tuesday I saw that Heat magazine had included an sticker in the latest edition of their magazine which featured the face of a child: Harvey Price, Katie Price's disabled son, accompanied by the words "Harvey wants to eat me".

I was appalled that a magazine should even feature a child, let alone appear to mock said individual for his disability (Harvey Price suffers from a genetic disorder which causes him to gain weight) so I e-mailed the editors at Heat magazine the following:

"Dear Sir

I was appalled to find that Heat magazine has been offering stickers which feature the faces of children. I was further appalled to find that at least one of these children are disabled and that the stickers have a mocking/deriding tone to the words which accompany them.

Obviously your magazine would not exist without so called celebrities and to remain famous they need you as much as you need them. To feature pictures of consenting adult 'celebrities', whilst distasteful, is also to be expected.

Children however, especially those offspring of a 'celebrity' do not choose a way of life which includes recognition. It is important that they are protected from the public eye until they are old enough to make decisions for themselves. This protection should include publishers such as yourself refraining from publishing their photographs unless they are accompanying their parents to public events such as film premiers where there will be an expectation of publicity. Protection should certainly involve refraining from mocking, poking fun at or generally publishing photographs for no other reason than entertainment.

The sticker I am referring to in particular involves Katie Price's son. While I agree that she does appear to invite cameras into her life (and I am pleased that she does not exclude her son from this simply by virtue of being disabled) I am sure that she would never wish to extend this invitation to allowing her son to be deliberately mocked for the characteristics of his disability.

I very rarely purchase your magazine as I do not wish to perpetuate this cycle of fame for fame's sake. Rest assured that following this distasteful incident I will never be purchasing your magazine ever again and I shall be imploring my friends and colleagues to also boycott your magazine themselves.

I trust that Heat magazine will be issuing an apology for the offence they have caused to both the individuals immediately concerned, those people with disabilities or with disabled members of their families and so on who have worked tirelessly for disabled people to be fully integrated into society and to never be mocked or jeered or bullied in the name of entertainment or anything else as well as the wider public and perhaps also making a donation of profits to a charity which seeks to address this issue.

I look forward to your response in this matter. "

I received the following response:

Thank you for contacting us. No offence was intended by the Harvey sticker but I would like to unreservedly apologise for any offence caused as a result. I have spoken to The Andre's management team and have written a private letter to Katie and Peter to apologise personally.Mark Frith, Editor-in-Chief, heat"

Personally, I did not find such a generic response fulfilled my complaint. I would have liked them to explain what was intended by such a sticker and indeed why they though publishing a picture of a child was acceptable. Thankfully, it seems that Heat Magazine have been forced to publish an apology on their website. Sandwiched in amongst articles about I'm a Celebrity and Kelly Brook leaving Strictly was this which includes this extract:

"We now accept that that the decision to include this sticker was a mistake and we recognise that it has caused offence, not only to Katie and Peter Andre, but to a number of readers"

They 'now' accept? What did they think before? Perhaps in future they will think before publishing.

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