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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Heid the baw

I am delighted to report that the new Scottish government is seeking to set up a bespoke Scottish TV channel. I do hope, however, that the present model for Scottish news broadcasting is abandoned and that we might be treated to a more balanced news diet.
BBC's Reporting Scotland in particular is now simply a nightly football round-up with a couple of token items on quirky, niche subjects such as politics, health, the economy and the like. I have made my own sample study and have found that, on average, 15 minutes of each episode of R.S. consists of football news. Another 5 minutes is spent telling us what is coming up later in the programme, as if we are all on the edge of our seats and can't endure more than a few minutes suspense without soiling ourselves. UK news dispenses the same garbage, but with  better production techniques and an international dimension, however, packaging alone will never disguise the overwhelming stench of stool.

Football supporters are a well catered for minority and generally do not need a blow-by-blow account of the weekend's football results on a Monday. The suffering majority are not remotely interested in the minutiae of manager and player contracts, transfer agreements and minor players' even more minor injuries. The sheer presumptiousness of football is nowhere more manifest than at the daily press conferences held by clubs to announce utter trivia of significance to nobody other than themselves. 

This is especially galling in the light of the outrageous sectarian nonsense that, whether football fans care to admit it or not, finds an outlet in their sport even as Scottish, Irish and British societies are finally unyoking themselves from this dismal historical hangover. Somebody really should sit these imbeciles down and explain what the word "tradition" means. While both broadcast and print media are conspicuous in their efforts to play this down, there is no doubt that football, ably assisted by alcohol and more than a mere handful of social misfits, is a launch pad for sectarian hatred and random, drink-fuelled public and domestic violence. 

If football was not held up by our media as being pivotal to Scottish life, the idiocy that has seen parcel bombs sent to a footballer and his friends and puts the country on war footing simply because of a football match might just lose its self-importance and with it the belief that it has a legitimate constituency. Football somehow excuses behaviour that would not be tolerated in any other setting. I have yet to feel intimidated in a public place by, say, a group of golf casuals.

Scotland is at an important juncture. If we are to thrive as a nation, whether as a fully independent state - my own preference - or under varying degrees of autonomy, it is vital that we have a good clear-out before we move on. We are not a nation of football fanatics. We aren't even very good at it. The Faroese, with the same population as the Outer Hebrides and substantially less flat space to play the wretched game, always fancy their chances. 

So long as our media portrays us as a people utterly obsessed with football, crippled by a tenuous grasp of history and pathalogically liable to resort to violence if our team loses, it should be no surprise that we don't get taken seriously as a mature, responsible, self-reliant democracy. Our media has a responsibility to transmit a more grown up message to the rest of the world. Leaving at least our news coverage free of football, far from causing a drop in viewer numbers, will probably dramatically increase it, as all those who are sick to death of this overblown nonsense realise that it is possible again to keep informed of events de jour without having to endure listening to some spoiled brat who can kick a ball but, one suspects, has trouble with the boot laces telling us that he's moving abroad because twenty grande a week just isn't enough for his otherworldly talents. To the charge list could be added a detachment from the everyday realities that most of their supporters, to say nothing of the rest of us, find grossly offensive, today more than ever.

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