Television review: You've been Lanced and Trumped
Published 14/07/2014 | 02:30
You've got to feel sorry for the cyclists. There they are, riding through the hell that is the Tour de France, while viewers of Eurosport enjoy the lovely aerial pictures of the scenery, and are they revered for their sacrifice? No, they are doubted at every turn, routinely blaggarded with questions about doping.
Wherever they look, they see other sports in which doping is clearly taking place at a significant level, and yet like David Norris when he was apparently the only homosexual in Ireland, the cyclists are uniquely identified.
Just because there's an ancient culture of doping in their game - and perhaps a living culture too - they must feel that they're taking the rap for all the others who are never asked the hard questions. Or even a few easy ones, like, is there any good reason to believe that any sport is "clean"? Could we rule out Lawn Bowling or not?
Certainly such lines of argument would have played in the mind of Lance Armstrong, subject of Stop at Nothing on BBC Four, and The Armstrong Lie on Channel 4, which told of how he became one of the most admired men on earth, and is now one of the most despised.
He would feel that he and his bike-riding brothers are held to account in ways that a golfer who can effortlessly drive the ball 330 yards is not. Nor is the same level of attention being paid to rugby players who have apparently evolved into a different species over the last 15 years. Or tennis players who are still pumping away with no signs of fatigue after four hours on court.
In a very complicated universe, it seems that people have seized on the simple line that poor Lance is the only absolute villain out there, and the problem for Lance is that he is so brilliant in that role.
He is a tremendous "baddie" all round, and yet even at his most disgraceful in these documentaries, he reminds us that there's a reason why intelligent men such as Woody Allen look to sport for their visions of profundity. The worst aspects of sport, and the worst people who feature in it, are still somehow putting across something more vital than what we see in most other forms of "public life".
I'm afraid that after a few hours of Lance in all his supreme fraudulence, speculation about Richard Bruton's new portfolio just doesn't do it.
Then again, Lance is probably best enjoyed by those who only have to look at him on television, and the same might be said for Donald Trump. RTE1 pulled a neat move by showing You've Been Trumped, which told of the conflict between Trump and a group of locals as he set about building a golf resort in Aberdeenshire.
As the forces of Official Scotland expressed their gratitude to Trump, from the piper at the hospitality tent to the presentation of the honorary degree, one recalled that Official Ireland was similarly deferential to him in his mission to fix up the Doonbeg links - instead of the piper we laid on a freezing harpist and a lovely singer at the airport.
And then we essentially let him at it, unlike a few of the Scots who owned homes and land near the site and who staged an increasingly heroic resistance to Trump and his enforcers.
With characteristic candour and ignorance, Trump repeatedly accused one of these individuals of living like a pig, in slum conditions which would be grossly offensive to any golfers who had to look at them on their way round the links.
They, in turn, accused him of ecological hooliganism and of trying to bully them out of their homes and of being, in general, an incredible asshole.
Maybe he has learned from the Scottish experience, because so far we have heard few words from him about the living conditions of the people of Co Clare.
Nor has he given voice to that strangely self-pitying attitude of the very rich, who feel sincerely challenged by the idea that there are poor people living their appalling lives in places where they might actually be seen by said rich people -- especially when they're playing golf.
But the fact that Trump ever said such things, is remarkable in itself. You'd wonder what he's really thinking.