14 de dezembro de 2007

The Alpha and the Omega

Yesterday I had one of those wake up calls that got me thinking and, worse than that, caused me physical disgust at the world we're in.
Late in the morning, I was at a medical clinic waiting for some check up exams' results and bored to death as is the case in these circumstances. Around me the elderly people that are the great health consumers of our society and some other younger people looking equally bored and stupified as I was. Old, used and torn magazines lay open and forgotten on a small glass coffee table. The younger people were all very much interested in their mobiles and frantically sending sms, looking dumb and alienated. The older people were either chatting (about their health miseries, what else?) or had their eyes glued to the TV set on the wall. Following their eyes I also stared at the TV.
TVI was on. Some idiotic, brainless morning talk show was on. I stopped to gaze in astonishment at what the masses are fed every morning and considering it an experience in life, since I never watch TV at that unusual hour.
Horror began then.
Certainly moved by some fake, hypocritical 21st century Christmas spirit, the producers, or whoever draws the programme's line up, had staged an episode in charity. In the audience a child and her grandmother would be the beneficiaries of such distinct and marvelous altruistic deed. They were poor, their lives difficult, the child had been abandoned by her mother and raised by that grandmother. The child wanted a computer for Christmas. A computer no one would offer her.
Surprise. As they were in the studio, TVI had sent a crew to their house: a naked house with just the basic furniture and no decoration (it looked cold too).
At this moment I thought things were getting despicable. So you go and show the world the inside of a private house? Worse, without the owners being there or consenting? And you make poverty a show? And you exploit the living conditions of obviously very humble people so that viewers can shed easy tears of compassion?
More surprise. While child and grandmother were at the studio, they had put a new bed, new curtains and new toys in the child's bedroom. Proudly, they were showing a very perplexed grandmother and child and thousands of viewers the innovations in the room. How lovely and colourful the new bed was, what fashionable orange curtains! The child was looking at all of that with blank eyes. Suddenly, a laptop on a new desk!
The silent child burst into loud, convulsive tears. She took her little hands to her eyes and just stayed there crying, crying so hard that all we could hear was that torrential cry.
I looked around. The viewers sharing the clinic's room with me showed no signs of emotion. Their faces were void of anything, their eyes still glued to the TV screen as if nothing had been showing.
Repulsive feelings criss-crossed my body. How was that possible? I was watching one of the most ignoble things I had ever seen in my life! I've seen a lot of bad stuff already. But this was too much! People were toying with a child, making audiences out of her frailty and suffering! How can you do such a thing? And for the public this was nothing special, nothing much, just another episode that I'm sure they get on a daily basis.
I knew morning TV is bad, but in my blond ignorance I thought they only showed recipes, beauty advice, interviews with common people, contests, astrology, couple's golden anniversaries, I don't know, stories of people that fight against diseases, survivors of accidents. But this?
With the girl still crying, the presenters ended the programme to the applause of the studio's audience. No commercial break and the 1 o'clock news was on. First news: European delegates were signing the Lisbon Treaty with special silver pens in an imposing, luxury setting that cost a fortune.
In less than five seconds we had gone from an extreme of human misery to the heights of spending. Poverty and prosperity and nothing in between. In less than five seconds we had contemplated the alpha and the omega of our strange civilization. And no one thought this was odd, difficult to digest.
Debt: I took the title for this text from a remark that Ramalho Ortigão did in John Bull (1887). One day, when he was walking in London, he saw a filthy and almost naked beggar go by. Later in that day he saw a carriage with His Highness, the Prince of Wales. Astonished at this coincidence he said: " E assim foi que eu tive a dita de ver quase ao mesmo tempo, o Alfa e o Ómega da espécie humana na grande civilização britânica, o primeiro e o último cavalheiro de Londres" (p. 136).
I saw that too, yesterday, in Portugal, in live and colour on national tv.

22 comentários:

quintarantino disse...

I think one thing is helping people who need. And, as you know, people in need is what we are having more and more in this rotten societyu of ours.
Another thing is taking advantage of that aspect showing it on TV just to gain more share without even showing any kind of regret or mercy on showing them just like that. It's awful.
But evem more awful is seeing how people amase themselfes with those dreadful shows.
Horror. Nothing else.

quintarantino disse...

Darn, one or two mistakes but later on you can spank me because of them! Ok?

António de Almeida disse...

-Não vejo a TVI, não gosto do formato tabloide, de reality-shows, nem da exploração da miséria Humana. Sei que foi numá clínica, mas mesmo aí, levo sempre uma revista semanal de notícias, aproveitando para ler alguns artigos. Sim, porque revistas cor-de-rosa, nem abro. Ás vezes, pessoas espantam-se comigo, por não saber quem é este ou aquele, mas sou mesmo assim. Consumo o que escolho, e não o que me impingem!

C Valente disse...

Mais paz e amor , menos consumo
Saudações amigas e que esta quadra de Natal esteja repleta de amor , paz e feliciade

Tiago R Cardoso disse...

Pois ficas já a saber que tivestes sorte, digo mais muita sorte, eu apanhei uma vez um mas na SIC, em que entrevistaram uma criança de 14 anos durante mais de meia hora, estiveram esse tempo todo a puxar todos os detalhes sobre a GRAVIDEZ da criança, sendo a criança acompanhada pela mãe, num espectáculo degradante para a pessoa humana e no final numa grande festa avançaram com todo o tipo de presentes para ela e para o futuro filho.
Eu como tu tive que aturar aquilo, parece que é normal nas zonas de espera de consultas as televisões estarem sintonizadas nesse canais.

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Quinn,
I think charity is something you do and don't say anything about it. Putting the beneficiaries of charity in the spotlight and then making money out of their misery that's rotten as you say. A shame if you ask me.

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Antonio de Almeida,
I confess I was caught off guard! I thought I was just going to do some exams, I wasn't counting on waiting for the results. So boooom! There I was without anything interesting to read, what a drag! I too don't watch TVI, but having to put up with that was sort of a masochistic experience I tell you.

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear CValente,
Many heartfelt thanks! And for you the same!

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Tiago,
I'll say it in Portuguese: isso que tu viste é mais que nojento!!!! (disgusting in English is not so strong as "nojento"!). Just when you think things go down anymore... bang! Awful!

JOY disse...

OLá Blonde

É na realidade degradante a forma como muitas vezes as pessoas são tratadas na televisão sem se aperceberem,a exploração da dasgraça alheia é sinal segundo as estações de TV de boas taxas de Share,basta ver os programas matinais e os da tarde para constatar esse facto.


Carol disse...

I think you're right and this kind of charity is truly disgusting. But I must add TVI and SIC are just the same. RTP still hasn´t gone that way.
By the way, I hope everything's ok with you.

antonio disse...

Why not? If bankers and big shot employers can profit from this misery, why can’t we do the same?

Why can’t we enjoy their misery in national TV? It’s fun. I like when handicap people are displayed as well… Porreiro, pá! Porreiro!

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Joy,
Yes, it's very depressing to see how people can be treated as TV garbage. I just hate it!

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Carol,
I really can't say whether it's only TVI or SIC or RTP because I don't watch much tv, in any case, just watching a bit of TVI (I must have watched some twenty minutes or so that day) was more than enough to have a picture of what disgusting things they're showing! More than enough!

(Thanks dear, everything is just fine with me! Guess you're gonna have Blonde for still a while!)

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Antonio,
Just porreiríssimo man!
By the way, I don't know if it was supposed to or not, but I read your comment with tons of freezing cold irony in it! After all, there's still hope for you;)

antonio disse...

Hope for me? After my Xtmas list? You are so kind!

quintarantino disse...

Now Miss Blonde you got me real mad of envy. And a little jealous too... why in the world must you be more kinder to that other one rather than to me? Humpf...

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear Antonio,
It's Xmas spirit working wonders...

Blondewithaphd disse...

Quinn dearest,
No worries there, I'm always kind to you no matter the season... (hmm, jealous is good!)

Joshua disse...

What kind of cold-blooded fuckers these TVI guys are?! Gotta shout loud against this sordid shit, toying with others suffer!

[Well, I'm getting better, my gentle and thoughtful friend BlastingLightningBolt-Blondie!]

Almost back


Peter disse...

Coincidência: acabo de colocar um artigo sobre a "casinha" do Robert Mugabe, um dos muitos a quem andámos a dar de comer (e se fosse só isso, ou se fosse só ele ...), quando os nossos irmão, vivem como vivem.

Que o teu Natal te permita juntar à tua volta os que te são queridos.

João Castanhinha disse...

Simplesmente maravilhoso.