Monday 23 January 2017

Tommy Conlon: Viewers being treated as drooling idiots by corporate TV

Tommy Conlon

Published 10/01/2016 | 16:00

Reporter Mel McLaughlin’s controversial pitchside interview with West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle
Reporter Mel McLaughlin’s controversial pitchside interview with West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle

Like the two masks of classical drama, the television sports industry has a happy face and a horrid face. But unlike classical drama, it pretends to only have one: it is all about shiny happy people.

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It keeps the ugly underbelly locked away in an attic. The often seedy realities are right there, in the next room, but they are sealed off and kept in the dark. The bright lights are focused instead on the simple narrative of sporting heroes, dramatic action and family entertainment.

Televised sport is in this sense another corporate confidence trick, a grand illusion selling tickets and subscriptions to the industry of human happiness. All the myriad issues from doping to corruption, money, greed, racism, misogyny, cheating and venal behaviour, are pushed to the margins like snow on a pitch that is brushed to the sidelines. The game must go ahead, the show must go on.

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