Thursday, 15 January 2009

Why does drunken old Gazza still get more attention than the Gaza Strip?

“‘SURVIVING Gaza’. That must be a programme about the Palestinians getting bombed,” said one of my housemates, as he caught the very end of a TV ad for a Channel 4 programme.

Having caught the full ad, however, I regretfully informed Leo that the programme was in fact called ‘Surviving Gazza’, a programme about the bloodsucking Gascoigne family who decided the best way to tackle their father’s horrid alcohol and mental problems was to make a warts-and-all documentary about putting up with him.

Paul Gascoigne’s every fall from the horse has been plastered across the tabloids for the last number of years. However, if he still experiences rare moments of lucidity, it must have really hurt to see his ex-wife and kids pile on a little more shame by allowing the media even greater access to his car crash of a life.

Now those familiar with his glamour model daughter, Bianca (not his real daughter by the way but hey, the lads mags are far more likely to give a call if you hold onto that surname) won’t be too surprised that she will do almost anything to keep the media spotlight on herself and her inflated chest.

But it seems Bianca didn’t lick her attention-craving ways from the rocks, as proven by her mother and brothers’ complete willingness to describe Gascoigne’s fall from grace in intimate detail to the cameras.

Even the youngest of the family had no problem saying for the cameras that he hoped he never saw his father again, a statement gobbled up by the red-tops and emblazoned across front pages days in advance of the programme’s screening.

And it’s this aforementioned gobbling and emblazoning that has me put out more than anything else. The fact that tabloids are more than willing to convey every tragic detail of a tragic loser’s life as he hurtles towards its premature end, all in the name of increasing circulation.

Not for a second am I suggesting that Gazza is a victim - that he is a spoilt, abusive alcoholic is undeniable - but he has seemed fully capable of making his life miserable enough in recent years without needing any additional help.

If Leo hadn’t been mistaken and the documentary had been a look at what it’s like to live under the constant threat of lethal bombardment in Gaza, I wonder would it have been as well-watched? Would the papers have mentioned any of the programme’s details anywhere other than the TV listings?

Of course not. The embarrassing and private details about how a once talented footballer has drank himself insane and will soon drink himself into the grave, as told by his family, is far more entertaining than the slaughter of hundreds of innocents.

And this is just one example of sensational nonsense trumping actual news.

For two days this week on Sky News, the top story was that Prince Harry had said something ignorant and insensitive - but in no way malicious - three years ago, by calling a close colleague of his in the army his “Paki friend”.

Another video showed him saying to a friend that he looked like a “raghead”. Again, his words were insensitive but by all accounts, the term is one commonly used by many soldiers to describe the enemy in war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq and not assigned to each and every citizen of the country which they are - in theory - protecting.

A third video showed him making a mock phone call to his grandmother in which he signed off saying; “God save you” which - in fairness to Harry - is just funny.

But the reaction to the release of these videos has had self-righteous commentators and even the Prime Minister lecturing from atop their high horses as if a 21-year-old man saying something stupid was completely unheard of before now.

If it’s dumbass observations from young males that make headlines these days, then my friends and I could give the tabloids enough material for months in one evening if they’d like to call around.

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