Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Footballer killed in a tsunami? Priceless

I was going to reply to Jo's and Polarbear's comments on my previous post, but I wanted to get further into the topic in another post, anyway.

Yes, there is extended coverage of Australian footballer(s) who have died. I don't think this is simply the lure of a sports angle... though there is an issue to be explored there, about whether we value our sports heroes higher than other achievers like scientists and musicians. You do sometimes get the impression in the news that an elite sportsperson who dies tragically was somehow more in the prime of life than anyone else could possibly be. Their "prime of life" is probably quite a short period compared to a cancer researcher or a poet or a politician.

The focus on the death of a footballer gives a focus to a vast and remote tragedy. It's a loss that many people can relate to. It does have a resonance with the Bali bombings. But the real reason that it's so predominant in the news, is that footballers = NEWS. Hmmm, this fishing village was wiped out, and that fishing village, and this string of tourist resorts, etc etc. Wa-hey! A local footie hero!

But there have been plenty of other interesting stories about westerners, like this guy who surfed the tsunami, and this 10 year old girl who recognised what was happening and raised the alarm. (By the way, is it time yet to call for a ban on the use of the phrase "10 old British schoolgirl"? It seems archaic to me: all ten year old girls in Britain are in school, with the exception of truants and the home-schooled. It's useful if you want to conjure up images of knee socks and shiny shoes.)

I was feeling very snarky when I wrote posted the previous, though I'm not sure it fully came across that way. It's hard to know how to react to something like this. Not just because it is on such a huge scale; it's always hard to know how to feel, and what to do, when terrible things happen out there and my life just buzzes along merrily. Should I feel sad? Why am I able to think about it for a while and then go back to whatever I was doing?

This tsunami has left far too many victims in its wake, on many different levels, to be able to keep them all in focus at once. I've been wondering what to think and by extension what I might write here about it. And coming up with very little. 'Gee it's so sad' doesn't get you very far. Picking on the media coverage seemed like something to do. Sometimes I get the impression that the media have hit a macabre jackpot - it's the biggest natural disaster in modern history! The death toll is still going up! On the other hand I have to admit that there is also some sensitive, heart breaking journalism happening. And it's been said before that the constant coverage surely helps to stimulate donations of money and other aid.

Damn 'seeing both sides'. This blog might be more interesting and controversial if I was more opinionated! But that wouldn't be me.

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