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Saturday, 4 August 2012

When mainstream media goes bad - or, journalists becoming internet trolls.

Why has it suddenly become acceptable for certain journalists/bloggers to take pot-shots at certain members of the human race through their traditional media posts? And to use the Olympics as an easy way to score points? Is it a way to get hits on a website? Did their commissioning editors decide that trolling is now the next big thing to create traffic?

Opinion pieces are supposed to be talking points, I get that. But deliberately writing an opinion piece that is a  bit of racist bile in the Daily Mail - affectionately referred to as the Daily Fail for the sheer non-quality of  reporting and fact-checking - even though the original has now been pulled from the site, is nauseating. Re-writing the piece to remove the truly offensive remarks wins you no points at all. If you want to see an excellent examination on the piece have a wander over to http://botherer.org/2012/07/28/the-daily-mail-and-how-an-nhs-death-means-racism-is-fine/ and check it out. I can't actually write a better rebuttal without frothing over my key-board, so I'm going to leave it there.

Then we have one of the most condescending - and inaccurate - views on women's judo, written by someone who (a) doesn't demonstrate a basic understanding of the sport at all and (b) is a numpty. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewmcfbrown/100174361/womens-judo-its-disturbing-to-watch-these-girls-beat-each-other-up/

Not only is it appallingly sexist, and gives almost no recognition to an athletic achievement by either of the competitors, it contains one of the creepiest phrases ever, and I quote : "I couldn't help wondering about their soft limbs battered black and blue with bruises".

WTF? (Abbreviation used in case my mother views this later. If you want an example of female aggression, irritate my mom.)

Tell me, dear Mr. Brown, since my poor female brain is struggling to understand it - do you cower at the thought of the strong, mighty limbs of the male athletes battering each other? If so, darling, you are probably watching either the wrong sport all together (judo does not involve battering. It does involve a number of holds and throws, and probably the odd bruise. My poor, soft female body gets these by falling down stairs as well. Strange, that.)

We also have a demonstration of failing to understand basic anatomy, particularly those competing at an athletic standard. (Forgive me if I get this wrong, Mr. Brown. So difficult to get my female brain around these things.) However, having soft limbs would probably mean not having a skeletal structure, in which case the ladies referred to would be some sort of sea anemone, flailing at each other under water. They wouldn't be competing in the bloody Olympics. 

In addition, Mr. Brown, I'm pretty sure that the levels of physical fitness required to compete at Olympic level kind of restrict any softness involved to the average couch-potato gaping at their screen at home. 

Earlier in the piece, Mr. Brown refers to aggression that he - sweet, gentle, sheltered, and partially deluded soul - does not commonly associate with women or girls.  Dear Mr. Brown, I cordially invite you to watch the rowing, the athletics, the badminton, the weightlifting, the women's football, the swimming - actually, why don't you watch any sport containing woman athletes? Aggression in sports doesn't have to result in physically grappling with your opponent. Aggression is a state of mind, Mr. Brown. It's a determination to win, to fight through the burn, to do your best. The fact that an athlete might be female is incidental.

As for female aggression outside of sports? I suggest Mr. Brown picks a lady of his acquaintance, and proceeds to insult her offspring, her partner, her life in general, and see what the results are. I'd give you an additional bonus point for insulting her intelligence, but since you've already managed that quite nicely already it wouldn't count.

Right now, I'm hoping that this piece was designed to get hits on the Telegraph site. Unfortunately, I've had to deal with enough people with this sort of attitude to females (bless my pretty little head) to doubt it. 

So for what it's worth, here's my two cents:

When you judge someone based on their colour, religion, sexual orientation or sex, and when you are quite happy to publish it a piece of writing stating this, a couple of things happen. First, you get a backlash, and lots of very happy trolls feeding each other. Second, you expose both your soul and intellect for what they are worth - sad, shrivelled little bits of charcoal that are only good for generating flames and a lot of smoke. And yes, you will get people that inhale your poison and call it good. But is that really a legacy you want to leave? Do you really want your contribution to the human race be one of bile, and hatred, and sheer out-and-out stupidity? Because if so, go find yourself a nice cave, and beat yourself repeatedly over the head with a large club, and for the sake of the rest of the planet, please don't breed. You'll have a much nicer affect on the gene pool that way.

But you'll still be a numpty.

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J H Sked is the author of WolfSong , Basement Blues , Die Laughing , and Quarter the Moon  and a contributor to Sweet Dreams, all of which are on Amazon as ebooks.