An interlude

This morning, I want to stray quite a bit from the usual ruminations on writing, literature, film and the genre scene to write about something truly amazing – a particular event that has gripped the imaginations of people across the world. Plus, I also want to relate it to the theme that Simon Bestwick explored in his guest-blog recently. There is a point to this, plus it’s an issue that makes me think (and question) quite deeply about the world – so please forgive me this mini-rant.

What am I talking about? The ongoing rescue of the Chilean miners, trapped underground for 69 days – that’s what. A truly heartwarming story, if ever there was one, plus it’s also one of those feelgood tales that, albeit temporarily, makes one forget about the stupidity, negativity and inanity that sometimes characterises the nature of humanity. The sort of story that persuades one that just maybe there’s hope.

Unfortunately, for someone as generally pessimistic as I can be, the respite such items afford is all-too-brief. As is the nature of things, once the initial euphoria has died down, it’ll slowly, gently recede from people’s memory. The high of knowing that these men came out the other end of a traumatic experience will fade, and that feeling will be wasted as everyone will go back to their everyday lives. Instead of capitalising on sharing the common humanity that comes to the fore and building upon it, once everything’s settled down they’ll just go back to their selfish old ways for the most part. Tony Blair once said, in the wake of Diana’s death, that Britain would become a more caring society – has it fuck. It’s like the annual “Christmas/New Year Effect” syndrome – that time every year when people are nice to the neighbours and relatives they spend the rest of the year despising heartily. The sometimes hollow ‘goodwill to all men’ thing.

One other aspect that baffles me is how some people will have such misplaced priorities concerning the miners and what their rescue means. There are those who will think that, because it isn’t happening in Britain, or that they don’t know any of the people involved, it doesn’t matter. That it’s nothing to do with them. Besides, the love-life of the latest X-Factor winner is much more exciting. Ooh, and did you know that Eastenders actress, the chubby one, has lost two stone lately and is looking absolutely fabulous. It just annoys me that there are people who are so disengaged with the real-world around them that the lives of actors, pop-stars and celebrities are deemed more authentic than the lives of real people. Mind you, when the film of the incident eventually gets made, no doubt these same folk will flock to the cinema – and miss the irony that they’ll be experiencing it secondhand.

I guess, though, that it’s always been the same – we’re just more aware of it these days. The media, both televisual and electronic, are ubiquitous, and to a certain extent the constant bombardment has a tendency to desensitise. Additionally, I find TV especially to have too much of a soothing, soporific effect, numbing one to what is actually important. In point of fact, the only TV programme I have watched within the last four weeks was the History of Horror on BBC4 the other night. Even when I do watch the box, it tends to be exclusively documentaries. One of the things that was drummed into those of us who attended the BSc Digital Media degree course (or Medialab Arts, as it was somewhat pretentiously called then) was that we were now the producers, not the consumers. Being a producer carries a great deal of responsibility with it and, whilst I understand the need to entertain people, there is at least a need to inform as well, something which appears to have been forgotten in the frantic rush for ratings. It appears that some producers (in this country at least) are intellectually bankrupt, and continually aim for the lowest common denominator. Hence Big Brother, X-Factor, daytime chat-shows and mind-numbingly brain-draining soaps.

The saga of the Chilean miners, and of the sheer dogged determination and persistence of the rescuers, forcibly reminded me that not all people are the same. In amongst the idiots vying for airtime, the politicians, the fundamentalists, the attention-seekers and the socially-damaged, there are stories and people worth noticing, worth following to their conclusion. And sometimes, too, there can be happy endings, ones that make us smile, if only for a while.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow, I assure you!

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5 Responses to “An interlude”

  1. Nice post – the sad thing is, there are always the “other people” around, those caring for sick relatives or friends, the friendly neighbour who checks on their friends (and often provides a much needed life-line), even down to the lollypop ladies who get our children safely to school.

    I loathe the X Factor, I hate what Simon Cowell has done to music (in particular) and entertainment (in general), I dislike intensely that our entertainment now is similar to bear-baiting – get people up on stage, get them to expose their dreams to the nation and then laugh at them (tossing in some harsh comments whilst you’re at it) when they don’t meet your requirements. So, just because somebody doesn’t sound bland or commercial or generic, why not rubbish their dream and destroy their confidence and self-esteem, whilst also making them a pathetic laughing stock.

    Big Brother’s no different – the only people who benefitted from that were the Endemol bigwigs and Davinia McCall (£10m over 10 years – not bad, love).

    But in real life, a lot of Britain (and I have to assume this is worldwide) isn’t like that at the moment, because those of us who grew up without this mass-mockery don’t behave like that. What things’ll be like when my son is my age (in 36 years), I really don’t want to think about.

    But the signs of revolt are there, however faint. Big Brother died because C4 and Endemol weren’t making the money, because the public had grown bored. Enough people hated The X Factor to put Rage Against The Machine at the top of the charts last Christmas. That has to be a good sign.

    Unless it means that the easily-led/Heat reading/Jordan wannabees actually want something tackier and more base. Oh Heaven forfend!

    (oops, sorry, that went on a bit, didn’t it?)

    • Oh I know there are those just like us who detest the way that society,(for want of a better term) has evolved over the last, say, three decades, and who are eager to change things for the better. What I wrote above was just my immediate reaction and my immediate chain of thought, whether rightly or wrongly. I also felt that I needed to just get it out there, while it was still fresh – and to gain others’ reactions…

      • Oh I think we agree, Simon, it’s just we maybe see things slightly differently.

        It depresses me mightily, how people are and how they perceive themselves in the world. Look at the magazines when you go into the newsagents, watch the TV ads – I showed someone at work that Dove ad, which is still terrifying – I’m just glad we had a boy!

        In my opinion, we’re heading back to Roman times in terms of entertainment – baiting, gladiatorial combat (Simon Twatface versus some poor sod who has a dream) and the crowd baying for blood.

        Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to hear a tone-deaf man sing Barbara Streisand songs all day but just because I don’t, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be allowed to do it. If Cowell (and his ilk) get his way, we’ll all be the same (and even the Susan Boyle argument doesn’t work – look at her now, cleaned and spruced up).

        One of the key points – hey, a key right – of being human is that we’re individual. Look at the pop charts, look at the girls in town with their tans and fake hair and huge sunglasses and little dogs in bags and suddenly, you start to feel like that bloke in “Life Of Brian” – “I’m not [an individual]”.

  2. And all of this shouldn’t detract from those poor miners. I do suffer slightly from claustrophobia, I feel ill just thinking about them. But how many will come up, hug their family, take a few days off and then go back to work? Most of them, I would hazard a guess.

    Brave souls who shouldn’t be forgotten in a hurry, just like the lady in Afghanistan.

    • And the Linda Norgrove case is part of the wider context I was hoping the piece above would allude to…. there’s a bigger world out there, a bigger panorama, that people refuse ti look at because it takes them out of their comfort zones. And it isn’t in Heat magazine either. The uniformity of all those clones I see in town on a Saturday terrifies me,,, these people would be the first to say their individuals yet the irony of them following the current fashions to a person just doesn’t strike them in any way….

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