Now Even Our News Has To Be Pretty?

This week a study came out which said that more than 31 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were written last year. This was 6% more than the previous year and probably 80% more than it needs to be. The fact that this is so is for a combination of reasons too complicated to get into right now. For those of you pointing out the fact that I am not a doctor so what do I know – you are partially correct. I am not a doctor. However a few years back I was part of a nightly health series. The premise of the show was that each night there was a different condition highlighted. We would bring on someone who was currently suffering, someone who needed to be cured and a doctor. It became a running ‘joke’ with us on the show – ‘disease of the toe: antidepressants; ‘loss of hair: antidepressants’; ‘loss of husband: antidepressants’. Issues to due with prostates, erectile dysfunction, testicular anything: Proper Treatment. Of course there is a legitimate place for antidepressants but 31million prescription………….come on now (frown).

What does this have to do with politics or social-theory? A lot. It is a reflection on the ‘I don’t want to feel anything’ culture that we now choose to inhabit. Anything unpleasant rears its ugly head and we need to mask it or avoid it. God forbid we actually do anything about it. Why is that? Probably because most of us feel we can’t do anything about pretty much anything ‘bad’ in our world so if we can’t change it then let’s rob it of its power to hurt us. We hold it in, bottle it up, hope it goes away. Well of course it doesn’t. So every few years we need to release all this pent up hostility/aggression/frustration/sadness/et al. And it could be anything that trips the switch. Someone new to ‘hate’ on Big Brother, someone new to ‘love’ on X-Factor. That’s why so many of us like politics, a constant fresh crop of demagogues.

The first time I really became aware of this ‘collective outpouring’ was when Princess Diana died and now we are seeing a repetition in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Let me be clear. I was devastated, nay distraught when Diana died. Trotted off to Kensington Palace pushing the buggy with the child carrying one rose and us grownups lugging the contents of an entire flowershop. Weeping, bawling and general gnashing of teeth. Railing against the universe, you name it and it went on. Did I really give a monkey’s about Diana? Still not sure – yes she seemed nice enough but were there more important things in my own life that needed attending to both practically and emotionally – most definitely! But what was easier, crying for me or crying for a stranger?

As a mother I can completely empathize and understand the distress the McCann family must be going through.

However there is something terribly, terribly wrong in how this has been covered and it leaves a bad taste in some mouths. Are some lives more valued than others? Is the pain of some families deeper? If Madeleine had been on holiday with her single-mother from Slough would we care as much? If Madeleine had been a wee brown girl from Merseyside would we have cared in the same way? And most importantly are we man enough to admit the answers to those questions………..

Many commentators infinitely more competent than I (which means just about everyone)……..are now starting to raise their heads above the parapet and ask these questions and I say hats off to them. This is NOT about poor Madeleine and the distress of her family. This is about how the media chooses what we are interested in, sometimes to their own advantages. When we see primetime anchor newsreaders climbing out from behind their desks and going a couple of yards away to see what happened to two toddlers found dead in their beds rather than hopping on a plane to go somewhere sunny so they can show concern and support – then we may feel a bit more secure that we are really getting a cross-section of news, not just what’s ‘pretty’…………

Am I saying that we shouldn’t care about Madeleine? Absolutely NOT! Forward emails, put up posters, tie ribbons everywhere you can think of ——– but do it for everyone not just the pretty ones. Maybe if/when we start caring about more of the pain and suffering that goes on around us on an everyday basis – and doing something about it –there will be less of it, who knows we can only pray…………



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11 responses to “Now Even Our News Has To Be Pretty?

  1. dolbyn

    ( having problems posting )

  2. dolbyn

    a sad subject – I’ll have to take some meds to continue typing…. 😉
    Depression – I think I’ll come back to that last as I may ramble
    Dianna – I too went to Kensington gardens though about 7-10 days after, not
    to lay flowers, not to grieve, but because it felt like a way of paying
    respects and acknowledging like her or not, the way she changed perception
    of royalty and the light she brought to many.
    I think as you say there are points where society needs a focus , or a
    release, where unspoken fears or emotions need release. The situation with
    Madeleine seems to be similar, but this time I think its less about grief
    and more about “that could have been my child”, “is there nowhere we can be
    safe from evil”. The world is changing, there are few parts of humanity who
    are untouched by the global ness of everything. I keep seeing adverts on the
    TV for a TV show about a tribe. seems a TV channel thought it would be a
    good idea to take a group of natives from their home and drop them into
    America to see the culture clash. I don’t doubt it was a great experiment
    and I suspect it will be good TV, but I suspect a little innocence was lost
    for those transplanted. Which is maybe the crux of Magdalene, like the first
    time a child experiences a death in the family, or the first time ones heart
    is broken, through rites of passage we each loose innocence as we grow.
    Sadly the world is the same, as we grow we seem to be loosing our collective
    innocence. With individuals there are always new individuals coming along
    with a new supply of innocence, but with the world it never dies, it never
    reproduces it just grows and looses a little piece of innocence every day.
    That’s depressing.

  3. Australia is watching the unfolding Madeleine saga with astonishment. I keep getting asked whether she is related to royalty or maybe Beckham’s love-child.

    Whilst it is a heart-breaking and tragic story, so is the loss of any child, no matter how young or beuatiful. And children go mmissing all too frequently. Why has there been such a massive outpouring of emotion and grief about this one girl?

  4. Always keep one thing in mind, ‘News’ is no longer news, it is a business. Company A wants its news to be worse/bigger/better/more/shocking or whatever than the next company’s news. I’ve recently finished writing a book about how the BBC covered WW2 – it opened my eyes to much that is wrong with our current news coverage. I’m sure if WW2 had been covered like we are reporting Iraq, or just about any other situation, then our resistance would have collapsed.

    Given the news coverage that we’re exposed to today on 24 hour rolling news channels and endless bulletins on other channels a pitifully small amount of what we actually get is news. News should be renamed comment – but then who would watch?

  5. I think you made the point – the outpouring of emotion and loss over Madeline is in large part because we can’t save all the children of the world. Not the child soldiers of central Africa, not the millions of children starving, abused, sold, and disguarded. It does not make her loss less, but we need to save the children of world just one child at a time where it is not overwhelming. Poverty and hunger are a lie. Of course there is plenty of food and plenty of money, it is just concentrated in a very few spots and individuals. I am not advocating communism or socialism but awareness.

    This is a subject that needs addressing by each of us, bring it out in the daylight and have a close look.

  6. You’re right on that – there’s no need for anti-depressants. There’s a much better way but people don’t like the side-effects.

  7. dolbyn

    ( doesnt like the burn marks that electro shock therpy leaves )


  8. Liz

    What you say is very true. I didn’t understand why I felt so bad when Diana died but maybe as you say, it was easier to cry for Diana than for me.

    As for Madeline, it is very tragic. But I am also astonished at the massive coverage. Ellee’s blog with reports of other missing children is scary and sad beyond belief. I had to stop reading it; I wanted to say, ‘No more.’

  9. Anti-depressants are people’s way of not dealing with reality.

    They should be handled as illegal drugs 🙂

  10. With you on this one, Morag, although I must admit to being unmoved at Diana’s death, and more than a little bewildered at the very public outpouring of emotion all around.

    Liz, like you, I find Ellee’s series very distressing; it is, though, an admirable attempt to redress at least some of the aspects that Morag has criticised here. I realise I was about to describe it as both practical and quixotic… I certainly feel both adjectives apply, despite the paradox.

  11. I think that there is a role for antidepressants. Not every type for everyone, but I do know people who have benefited from them.

    As for Diana I was in a cafe in St Kilda (Melbourne) when I heard about it and thought wow that is different.

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