Friday, June 22, 2012

UK Media News Must Turn Mirror on British Society

Siphumelele Zondi

For as long as I can remember British musician, Sade, has always played at home. I have memories of her and Kenny G. in my father’s car when we were going on long drives. That’s probably why Sade and her band are my favourite music group of all time. I also fell in love with British movies I was too young to watch such as Trainspotting and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. So it was probably the arts and their history that sold Britain to me as a place I wanted to study in and indeed I found a huge appreciation of poetry, cinema, theatre and music here. I have a Zimbabwean friend who was drawn to this country by football; he is a huge Manchester United fan. I would say that is what Britain has sold to its former colonies and those are the images we have bought.

When I watch British television I hardly see positive images of the developing world. They talk of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe sometimes, but that is to criticise him. Last year they had many stories on Libya, Gaddafi was just a bad North African dictator that had to be conquered to save his people. Now we see stories on Syria, a Middle Eastern country which has a horrible leader that kills people every single day. I have also seen stories on South Sudan and how hungry people are there with a currency that isn’t worth much. I have actually never seen a positive story on Africa or the Middle East on TV here. One would think their culture is perfect and needs no saving, but it takes no expert to realise that is not true. 

A few months ago while on the bus a boy in his late teens came in, he had an argument with the bus driver, spat at the driver and walked out. No one thought of doing anything about this incident. Images of how this story would have gone down back in South Africa played in my head. The boy would have been disciplined by all the adults that were there. His parents would have been informed of his behaviour and they would then have to be seen to be taking action against his disrespect of an adult. The bus driver would also be defended more than a stranger would as he would be part of the community merely by driving through the area every day. At a certain point he’d stop being just the man that drives the bus. This was a clear sign of a lack of community that exists in Britain.

In fact the lack of assistance of other people was documented by Britain’s Sunday Times last week as the paper told the story of a young woman who was raped after bus commuters had refused to help her with 20 pence so she could get on the bus. She had apparently told the other commuters that if they didn’t help with what is an equivalent of R2 then she would have to walk alone at night in the dangerous neighbourhood. No one could be bothered and we read about it in newspapers after her worst nightmare had come true. This was another sign of a lack of community that has led people to only care about themselves and not others in this society.

Last night, Channel 4 News invited a group of children who have a problem with the investigation they’ve done on a gaming website that is also used by paedophiles that ask little girls to go on webcams and strip. The children said they were used to this on the online game, Baddo, and the Channel 4 story had taken away the only place they felt was a true community. The lack of interaction between people has led these children to go online to find people they can interact with and they see people they have never met as a community they can confide in. One child even said she dated a person she had met on this online game. 

Brits’ lack of human interaction even leads to some not knowing how to react when they are greeted by strangers on the road. Many in Britain would put bags next to them on buses so other people don’t sit next to them, they would have headphones on which is a clear sign that they don’t want to be spoken to. Movie cinema company, Odeon, has realised this and they now sell the cinema experience as something that can be shared as people don’t share much here anymore – not even bus seats. 

Recently there was a story in the culture of "grooming" that exists in certain society. The "grooming" would be when men, some with families, use girls as young as 12 for sex. These girls would be from different homes and somehow find themselves locked up in rooms with men who would then exchange them for sex. This was a story that seemed to criticise and highlight the dowside of British society, except the men were pointed out to be Pakistani and not thorough bred Brits. Again here, the bad force is coming from outside and isn't quite British.

I think British media needs to reflect on its society that has communities that have fallen apart with people that can’t come to the aide of others that are being violated. They spend too much time criticising the rest of the world while they talk of their leaders that are fighting to save their country. The economy isn’t the only thing worth saving. Respect for other people needs to be created and a sense of belonging outside online communities is also needed. Some of the countries they spend too much time criticising in media at least have those values of humanity.

1 comment:

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