Friday, 21 October 2011

A new era

So unless you've be living under a rock you will be aware that yesterday Muammer Gaddafi was killed.

And with it has come an absolute personal outrage at the way the media has dealt with this.  Oh, it is undoubtedly news of enormous importance but it is not important for us to see extremely graphic images of Gaddafi's last minutes, of a bloody corpse being dragged through the streets of Sirte.

Because as Spiderman/Voltaire (whoever floats your boat!) said "with great power comes great responsibility" and the media industry without doubt wield huge power-but they also have responsibility to act in a manner that isn't just akin to gratuitous voyeurism.  The responsibility to use sensitive imaging in a responsible way if it is absolutely necessary to use it.  What we didn't need to see was row, after row of paper - tabloid and broadsheet - depicting the death throes of an old man on the front page.  How can I ensure my child isn't exposed to age inappropriate material when, in fact, it is pretty much unavoidable anywhere that sells the news.

I fully understand that the people of Libya needed actual photographic proof of the fall of Gaddafi.  We didn't need to see it.  We didn't need to see video footage of a man begging for his life before being shot.  We didn't need "breaking news" to pop up on the channel we were watching including an image with "Gaddafi killed"emblazoned across the screen.

The media is so quick to set itself up as moral arbiter of our viewing, sex scenes too full on, video games too violent.   Yet both of those things are age restricted -as a parent I can easily ensure my child avoids them. But I can also say as a parent I would far, far rather explain a sex scene or a video game to my five year old than what we have seen on the news today.

We are told it is a new era for Libya.  What I fear is that this heralds a new era when the press seems to have no willingness to even contemplate what may/may not be appropriate and necessary information.

As a human being with a human heart I hurt from what I have seen.  There is never, ever a reason to celebrate death.  We should have been focusing on what the future holds for the people of Libya rather than on the trophy killing of an individual.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A very sexist Christmas and a happy new year!

 And so it begins....

The annual receiving of Christmas catalogues and the ire that follows due to the frankly ridiculous way the children's section is set out.

Let me give you a sneak peak of the Boots Christmas Catalogue.  This year the catalogue started out quite promisingly with a "Gifts for Kids" section (OK, I cannot abide the term kids but at least it's inclusive!) full of bright, primary coloured toys.  Good start Boots, I thought.  This continued for 20 or so pages and I'm beginning to think that they've sorted themselves out from last year.  Until I find the section entitled "girl's toys".....yawn.

And I'm sure you don't need me to tell you what this section includes.  Baby dolls, fashion dolls, Hello Kitty, Barbie, a pink fluffy hamster.  An awful range entitled "Glitter Babes" which comes with the strap line "gorgeous girlie treats and sparkly make-up for little girls who want to be pretty in pink"- shame it doesn't come with a sick bucket for the parent too.  This continues to the craft section which - I foolishly -hope will be better.  Except it isn't.  There's a princess making kit, a tea set painting kit, and various jewellery kits.

Onto the boys' section.  This includes dinosaurs, Lego, scooters, playmobil, Dr Who, Star Wars, Toy Story (all of which my 5 year old girl loves - clearly she didn't get the memo about liking pink and sparkles).

The worst offender of all is the Science Museum and National Geographic kits which appear only in the boys section.  Because apparently only boys like science.  Although I do tell a lie.  We're lucky to have on offer, for the girls in our lives, a "Super Science Make Your Own Perfume" kit.

I'm not saying girls and boys shouldn't like different things.  What I am saying is why are places that sell toys so keen to segregate.  Why can't there just be a toy section.  Is it so unheard of for a girl to want to play with dinosaurs and playmobil or a boy to like baking and baby dolls. 

So that's it.  Tune in next week for a rant at WHSmiths and why they see the necessity for a pink globe to teach girls about geography.