Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Is life becoming too sanitised?

I'm in two minds about writing this today, given the condition of Jules Bianchi, but there's still a point to be made so I'll continue regardless. Just don't give me any grief for not showing compassion ok!

When the crash originally happened; live on television on a sunday morning, I found myself annoyed that the event had seemingly been censored by the BBC.  There was no information and more importantly, the footage of the crash was not being shown.  Now we all know that no action escapes the attention of at least one camera, coverage of every single detail is huge in every sport nowadays.....sometimes to it's detriment. 

So, it got me thinking about other areas where sport and indeed life, has become sanitised. Why is this happening? Are they protecting the viewer? Are they protecting themselves as the broadcaster, from potential complaints from one or two horrified viewers who spoil it for the rest of us? Or are they, sometimes rightfully, protecting the dignity of the athletes?

We all remember watching a live rugby or football match, mid afternoon, when all of a sudden the crowd would start cheering yet another streaker. Was anybody ever offended by the sight of shrivelled genitalia, or a pair of saggy knockers bouncing around the pitch? I know I wasn't, it was just part of the event that day, this is a thing of a past now....they don't show them anymore, sad face emoticon. Now I know they'd argue that they cut off so as to not encourage others to do the same, and that it's just a waste of time on their behalf, the silly naked bloody idiots. Whatever the reason, I miss the streaker....double sad face emoticon.

Also, health & safety has played a huge part in reducing the atmosphere at sporting events too. Everyone now has to be seated since the Taylor report, delivered after the awful events at Hillsborough in 1989.  Being sat down just doesn't make you feel as engaged with the action and I think it's the right time to bring standing areas back, football stadiums are ready for it now. Flares are another thing I miss. Are they safe? Probably not. Did they increase atmosphere and the aesthetics of a stadium? Definitely!  We've got to be careful that in our quest for ensuring the maximisation of the safety of everyone, we don't remove the atmosphere altogether.

Anyway, back to my point. It's not just sanitisation that's creeping in everywhere you look, but also the obligation to look as if you give a toss, especially if you're a celebrity.  Like on Remembrance Sunday, when everyone on television is wearing a poppy. In most cases, they probably haven't bought the poppy themselves or gone out of there way to get one, it would have been put on prior to coming on set, whilst having their makeup done.  James McClean, the Sunderland footballer, was castigated for not wearing a poppy during a match against Everton a couple of years back. Why? Was he really showing disrespect, or was he just exercising his right to make a personal choice. I actually think it cheapens rememberance day to force people to wear them, agree?

Of course we should never forget those who perished during the war, protecting our country.  But weren't they fighting to keep us free, free from persecution and having to conform to dictatorship....therefore isn't telling someone they have to wear one, or feel the wrath, going against what this country should stand for, freedom?  You don't need a poppy to remember the dead, and maybe he just didn't care, nobody HAS to care about anything!

I've veered off course yet again, much like the stricken Jules Bianchi.  Since watching the footage of the accident for the first time last night, I'm in two minds whether or not it should have been shown. I've been critical of the sport, condemning it for becoming too safe. I don't want to see people getting hurt but as much as we all like to see the overtaking and the drama, we also like the danger element. It's why the drivers are adored and earn such good money, it's also part of the reason why we all tune in for the race.  To allow us to watch the event but then censor part of it because some people may find it disturbing just makes me wonder where we're heading with all this. I watched the drama and subsequent death of Ayrton Senna unfold at Imola in 1994, as a 14 year old boy. From the helicopter view, you could see he was unresponsive and was being resuscitated at the scene.  Did it harm me to watch that? Was it my right to see someone dying before my eyes? Is it unethical to show that type of thing? Is it one step away from a snuff movie? I don't know anymore. What I do know is, that crane should not have been allowed on the circuit whilst cars were still going at race pace, certainly not where a car had aquaplaned off the track already, it could, and should have been avoided. 

Boxing is probably the only sport that hasn't been sanitised, although it's become a lot safer since the best fighters simply stopped fighting each other. Why get into a proper tear up when you can just pick off has-beens and never-will-be's for good money on bloody pay-per-view! Don't get me started on how I used to watch great fights on ITV nearly every weekend, for free, cue the Hovis music again....

The bottom line is, it's good to care. It's right to want people to be safe and make it home to see their families every day, to make it to every new years eve party. But whilst life should never be cheap, we should also not be stopped from living on the edge, from being dangerous occasionally, it's what makes us tick and gives us an escape from the mundane. That said, as a parent, I'm constantly going to be having a mental tug-o-war between keeping them safe and letting them have as free a childhood as possible. If only there was a map that told you exactly what street corners and dark crevices the peadophiles are loitering in.....I'll hold back on the media levied fear mongering for another blog....

Pray for Jules.

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