Monday, 10 December 2012

The Echo of Coriolanus



I shared rooms as an undergraduate with a girl from Beecroft in New South Wales. Quite often late at night in her homesickness she would listen to an online broadcast from Sydney, a sort of comedy talk show, earthy harmless stuff hosted by a man and a woman.

Unfortunately I can’t remember their names or the name of the show, but I’m now beginning to wonder if it was Mel Grieg and Michael Christian, the two radio hosts responsible for the prank call to Edward VII Hospital last week, asking about the health of the Duchess of Cambridge. If it was them I can only say that they are about as far removed from ‘shock jocks’ as is possible to imagine. The latter – I’m thinking of some American presenters - are really nasty, usually indulging in vicious political invective verging on total character assassination.

The nurse business is truly tragic. Who could not feel sorry for Jacinth Saldanha and her family? But the reaction to her ‘apparent’ suicide – this word keeps being stressed – I find shockingly out of proportion. It was a childish prank but childish pranks have been the small change of radio and television for years. What is Candid Camera, or more recently Fonejacker, but a series of childish pranks?

This one, which was directed at the Royal Family, not the nurse, went horribly wrong but the vicious mob calling for the immolation of the two presenters quite frankly disgusts me. I imagine it includes lots who took delight in previous pranks, laughing at one moment, snarling at the next.  These are the canaille, the people that Mark Antony manipulated from one state of mind to another with consummate ease.  In their stupidity they shock me far more than any shock jock. 

It wasn’t the paparazzi who drove Princess Diana to her death but those who lapped up publicity, no matter how the story and the pictures were obtained.  I was only eleven years old when Diana died but even then I felt disquiet that evening her body returned to London, a grim procession through the dark, punctuated by the flash of countless cameras.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing more ghastly than the passions of the mob.  

You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
as the dead carcases of unburied men
That do corrupt the air - I banish you..
.


14 comments:

  1. Ana this was a childish act that went horribly wrong for reasons we may never fathom. The mob enacts the worst of humanity and they always have and the press just stirs it up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The reason sporting events and film and music are popularized is to keep the mob distracted as the games of ancient Rome. I would gladly punish the woman?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If our press had been published in Rome it would be calling for more blood in the arena, that is until Christianity became the fashion, then the message would be how shocking this spectacle is.

      Delete
  3. There seems to be no group more venomous in spite than the media. How much effect would racial or sexual invective have without the amplification of 'outrage' when incidents are reported by self-righteous hacks in the tabloids or on TV? Mass media feeds on anger, disgust, conflict, pain - but they pretend they have no role beyond being a mere conduit or a mirror to show us our imperfections. But do they ever show us any other aspect of ourselves? No wonder we rage like Caliban, with such an imperfect mirror.

    How many calls from reporters, I wonder, did Jacinth S. have to endure after the initial spoof? Whether or not her death was truly connected to the Aussie jesters, I'm sure there was plenty of blame to attribute to the baying mob of Britain's own media.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Calvin, it's the hypocrisy that really sickens me. At least some of the phony moral outrage is coming from people who were quite prepared to hack into the phones of crime victims.

      Delete
  4. In the end, there is candid camera, and then there is radio pranks. For tv's candid camera, sure, they pulled pranks but EVERYONE that appeared on camera had to sign a waver to be there. Radio hosts are prone to call ANYONE for a gag, and not ask permission. Sure, most of the time, its recorded, but they never call back and get permission to use the person's voice.

    Fact is, there are a good proportion of radio show hosts that are borderline out of control, I could list a few here, but I won't, and because those few are out of control, any time anyone else steps out of line, they will be singled out and pointed to as part of the 'problem.' Its truly a shame what someone will do for ratings, and truly a shame that unfortunate tragedies happen, but until people stop listening to the garbage part of radio, then the good radio hosts, every now and then, will make a mistake and get crucified for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dan, I can't disagree with any of this. As I said to Calvin above, it's the hypocrisy that sickens me, not just on the part of the press but also the public, who lap up rubbish and then complain when the taste turns sour.

      Delete
  5. thanks for sharing..
    http://fashionwithfitness.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  6. I do agree with you on this, Ana. I was very angry with the broadcasters at first but, on reflection, I think they might even be victims themselves. The phone call was no more than a relatively harmless prank. Anyone who committed suicide over such a minor failing must have had other problems and issues that we don't know about. After all, this nurse only transferred the call, she didn't herself give out any information - not that the information divulged was of much, if any, consequence. If any real blame is to be attached to anyone, or anything, then it is with the silly obsession of the media in general, and some of the people, with the royals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spot on, my friend. When will they ever learn? Never.

      Delete