The end of the games and the return to tele-twoddle…

August 16, 2012 2:23 pm

As the Olympics draws to a close and I can sense our television screens being taken over once more with meaningless fluff and vacuous airheads I feel a void developing in my life, comparable with returning to work on January 3rd or landing back at Heathrow after a fortnight in South Africa. Having stubbornly positioned myself at the heart of the pessimistic camp right up until Danny Boyle swept me off my feet I have become increasingly entwined in the Games, reaching the peak of passion at that point when Bolt grinned into the camera and managed to convince me that his coy smile was for me and me alone. I have fallen in love a number of times, most deeply with Mears and Blake (don’t tell Usain, will you?), and in awe even more with Ennis, Farah, Hoy, Daley, Adams, Wiggins, Attar, Pistorius, Le Clos, the Somali team… I could go on.

During the past fortnight our television screens, radio stations, web pages, smart phones, tablets and social media sites have been dominated by news about real people who can actually do something, do it well and are worth emulating. A picture going around Facebook shows Jessica Ennis and the plea ‘Dear British Media, Please can we have more of these types of celebrities and less of the Jordans, Jodies, and BB contestants so our children grow up with more positive role models? Thank you.’ My sentiments exactly.

It has been like a breath of mountain air in a society of spectacle that appears to be fixated at some toddler-esque narcissistic point of development, where we can’t move beyond the stage of ‘look at me, look at me, look at me!’. We have reached a point where we celebrate whole packs of people who do nothing more than sit on a sofa bickering, flaunt their body parts or buy new boobs, and then aspire to be them. Maybe they sing a tuneless, repetitive song which makes it to number one because alongside it they ‘leak’ a dodgy video from their past, drink themselves into oblivion or replace marital partners quicker than I replace washing up liquid. We appear to be past the point of caring about why we might get recognised or how, and foster this approach through tv shows and gossip mags that uphold ‘celebrities’ whose CVs would need to be written in point 48 just to fill a sheet of A4. Too many children and young people say their aim is to be famous when they grow up rather to write a great song, become a top athlete or develop cures for diseases, all of which would likely bring fame as a means, but just not as an end.

But for two weeks the inane, self-inflated and downright boring antics of Essex, Chelsea , LA and BB, weight, love affairs, ‘summer styles’ and branding have taken the back seat to a team of people who deserve a standing ovation from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back again. They warrant endless air time on multiple channels, glossies dedicated to their achievements and whole school assemblies about their courage, dedication, strength and brilliance. If I had a child I’d be in their bedroom bluetacking posters of Team GB over every inch of woodchip (as I don’t I’m just in mine doing exactly that with the notable members of the Jamaican contingent).

As a nation let’s try to hold onto these stories and experiences, and become motivated to dedicate ourselves to work hard to achieve what we once may never have thought possible. As the aftermath of the games kicks off alongside the build up to the Paralympics turn up your TVs and show your children what real people are made of. Then after September 9th turn them off, remain inspired and follow in the footsteps of these real, worthy, deserving role models.

 

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  • James

    I understand sentiments like this; but I don’t necessarily agree with them. I am all for showering athletes with praise for their outstanding achievements, but let’s not demonise pop stars or reality TV shows as a result of this. Does the author of this piece really believe that if young, impressionable individuals stopped watching Big Brother and had only sportspeople for role models that they’d end up engaging in exercise and not want the pipe dream of fame and fortune?

    The issue here lies with the fact that ‘Olympic Fever’ gripped our nation because it is a temporary, four-yearly occurrence. Do we think we’d all still love the Olympics if it was a bi-annual, or monthly event? No, of course not. In my opinion, the view that after the Paralympics end we should follow in the footsteps of Olympians are frankly ridiculous. Furthermore, this type of cultural elitism is, in my opinion, unoriginal, uninspired and pointless. Why? Because shows like Made Like Chelsea and TOWIE are not general points of socialisation that determine how a whole generation act and behave. They’re just television shows.

    Above all, let’s just let people watch their trash TV with people who aren’t ‘real’, and enjoy their ‘tuneless’ music without the fear of being looked down on by the culturally elite, shall we?

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