Monday 22 January 2018

Eulogies fail to tell truth of a complex life

The tributes to Mandela ignored any of the more controversial aspects of his character

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

John-Paul McCarthy

EAMON de Valera famously compared the power of television to thermo-nuclear weaponry in 1961. This insight owed something to the paranoid dimension in Irish Catholic thinking about culture, but the old chief was not entirely off-beam.

The recent saturation coverage of Nelson Mandela's death and funeral will probably be taught as a case-study of the way television flattens and cripples the intellect.

Take David Dimbleby's hour-long BBC documentary tribute to Mandela that aired shortly after his death. Here we were treated once more to the smiling public man routine as he recounted the long road from the Rivonia trial to supreme power in 1994.

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