Reality Cheque

12 Sep

Day 29 of the English Premier League Season. 11.04 a.m. Some of the players are gathered in the changing room, playing cards and listening to N-Dubz on their i-Phones. Wayne has been summoned to the manager’s office.

Twenty minutes later. Wayne emerges and tells his room-mates that he won’t be playing today due to the media pressures surrounding him and has been temporarily evicted from the clubhouse. Big Alex has advised him to go and see Coleen in the hope that their OK! sponsorship deal can be salvaged.

Meanwhile, Brian wins Ultimate Big Brother and a prostitute is due to shake her booty on next week’s X Factor. Stateside, Armageddon is averted at the final hour whilst nine-year footage is regurgitated for your viewing pleasure. Who goes? YOU decide…

It became apparent yesterday that Wayne Rooney was spared the prospect of coming out and playing against his former club for fear of the detrimental effect it might have on him. Everton fans had come armed with a repertoire of chants aimed at taking the maximum advantage of the striker’s current personal travails and Sir Alex evidently felt that the attendant media circus and furore surrounding Rooney was not worth putting either the individual or the team’s performance at risk. As it transpired, United managed to implode all by themselves without any added help from prying cameras and baying crowds. The saddest aspect of this however, was Ferguson’s willingness to change the habit of a lifetime and exclude a player for reasons beyond the parameters of football when once he stood by perceived public enemies such as Roy Keane, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

What Wayne Rooney may or may not have done in bed is of little concern to me. That is a matter that needs to resolved between the parties directly affected by his alleged transgressions. When he takes to the field, he should be judged on what he delivers as a professional footballer and his lacklustre performances during and after the World Cup are what needs to be scrutinised. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly harder to separate the roots for a player’s bad form if his every move is held up in screaming floodlights for all to see. As The Sun has so brazenly told us over the years ‘We Love It!’.

For some reason, we all seem to have an unquenchable thirst to know other peoples’ business; rubbing our hands at every flaw that is magnified in each and every person we come across. When once such tittle-tattle was disseminated over the garden fence with bosoms heaving on top of folded arms or folded laundry, we now nullify our daily worries using the very media which was apparently designed to elevate us all to some kind of sophisticated, erudite Arcadia. With a rampant, breathless media increasingly under threat of economic redundancy, we are incessantly bombarded with one salacious gossip piece after another in a shameless attempt to keep us hooked on the screen or buying the papers that some might say are more addictive and pernicious than a junkie rush of heroin through a vein.

During the death throes of Big Brother‘s final hour on our screens, very little was made of the fact that the show’s original remit was that of a sociological and cultural experiment which sought to shed light on how we lived and interacted at the dawn of the twenty-first century. They even had segments of the show dedicated to analysing the body language and psychological tics of the original participants. Somehow, it was packaged as something ‘worthy’ of our attention. However, all that was dispelled with the trial-by-media of ‘Nasty’© Nick Bateman, the mask came away and the show made its name on allowing individuals with low self-esteem (transfixed by the promise of fame) endure moments of ritual humiliation and vilification. There was little attempt by the show’s producers to accept culpability for the capitulation of Jade Goody and there was something slightly distasteful about the fawning tribute to her on Friday night as Davina Macall confidently proclaimed that Jade was the Ultimate Big Brother housemate. What we in essence were party to was the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jade in her three incarnations on the show and when somebody’s every flaw is so exploited and pawed over, then we should all feel a little ashamed of ourselves. Of course, Jade was free to do as she pleased and we don’t have to watch or buy the magazines but if we are all addicted to the cultural zeitgeist, it’s not so easy to wean ourselves off. I always feel I need to take a shower after watching something as crass and exploitative as Big Brother or The X Factor. I am fully aware of the manipulations that take place but I watch nonetheless. In many ways, I’m worse than some, because I should know better…

I was fortunate to catch the great American stand-up, Doug Stanhope performing this week and watching him dispense his brand of misanthropy with a vicious wit, I remembered a piece he did on Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe a few months back. The gist of what he was talking about is although we are all prone to voyeurism and finger-pointing, it becomes even more perverse when that natural inclination is used by the media for its own ends. Did anybody really think about the consequences of giving airtime to a rinky-dink pastor with no following who decided he wanted to mark the ninth anniversary of 9/11, with a ritual Koran burning? By shining even the faintest of media lights on Terry Jones, instead of showing restraint and talking up co-existence (as many politicians were so desperate to put across), didn’t anybody think that such a story would merely exacerbate and entrench certain misconceptions and world-views? And meanwhile we’ll show more titillating documentaries of people falling out of the burning buildings, packaging this voyeurism as newsworthy and keeping the victims’ memories alive. Over on BBC3 though, you can also watch a docu-soap on how a teenage mum got on at her first day ‘on the game’, whilst juggling the disabilities of having dyslexia and a wooden leg.

Whether Wayne Rooney saves his marriage or not holds no interest for me. It’s clear that he is a flawed individual. Neither particularly likable or cultured but regardless a wonderful footballer. I’m only interested in that aspect of him because Wayne Rooney as a sex-crazed lothario is not an image that I particularly want to have weaving its way into my subconsciousness. I don’t care about Cheryl’s divorce or Bruce’s wig or the Kardashians toilet habits. I just don’t care. Unless that is, Davina presents it. Then I’ll be hooked once again. I’m coming to get Rooooooooooooooo……..

One Response to “Reality Cheque”

  1. kevinmcdougall September 12, 2010 at 18:06 #

    Here’s some more – allegedly Joe Cole has been shagging around and it will break shortly in NOTW. He’s here he’s there is effing everywhe
    re joey Cole.

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