Friday, 21 September 2007

The McCann Media Witch Hunt

Read this:

The recent case of Madelaine Mc Cann's disappearance is the hot topic in every newspaper, TV news report, butcher's shop and cafe around Britain and, I expect Portugal and, to a lesser extent, the world. The other day my boyfriend asked me my opinion given the recent developments (you can all use google for that one) and I replied with my thoughts. The thing that gets to me the most about the whole situation, though, is that I even have an opinion on it. This is something so detached from my life, so unrelated to my day to day being - it doesn't affect me one bit. Not at all. I hate the fact that everyone in the country is commenting on the case as if they know exactly what's going on. "Guilty or innocent?" whispers the old lady to her friend in the post office. "Not very remorseful in the pictures, are they?" replies her mate. "Oh they could have killed her and thrown the body in the sea" chips in the man behind the counter. "When would they have had a chance to do that?" answers the lady with a buggy.

"Shut up!" I want to say. "It's none of your business whether they're guity or not!". It irritates me that people fall into the trap the media sets up for them so easily. Even the Sunday newspapers seemed to be hit on the head by the irony stick last week, commenting not so much on details of the disappearance, but the role of the media in the whole case. The newspapers showed pictures of the McCann's in their car, surrounded by photographers next to an article that commented on the media intrusion and world interest in the case. Articles passing judgement on the stone-set expressions of the parents which supposedly give something away, rather than the nothing they're meant to.

The pictures of the couple in their car or in front of the cameras portray to me not their guilt or innocence, but parents who have, no matter what the circumstances, lost a child and could just as easily lose their other two. Those are the only facts. More than this, the pictures chart the results of an obsessive voyeuristic media interest, fuelled by me and you: the public who love nothing better than a good story to get their teeth into over their morning coffee. Remember when the TV series Lost started and viewers were gripped by every episode, but when no more revelations were forthcoming for a while, viewing figures dwindled, nothing seemed to happen for ages and eventually the producers had to speed things up? Sound familiar?

When the Portugese police announced the parents as suspects, did you google for information? Who bought a paper on merit of the front page headline? Maybe you blogged about what you thought? Replied to a thread on an online message board about it? Were you one of the people who rang in to the countless radio phone ins before they were called off? Voted in an online poll? Went onto one of the Madelaine websites and condemned the actions of the parents? Have you passed judgement or opinion on them, or followed the bullet points listing the "facts" in the paper and tried to piece together what you think happened?

Sounds pathetic when it's written down like that, doesn't it. Your average person turning into a detective at the click of a camera because the newspapers and media, whose main purpose is not to supply the public with essential information, but to make money, has given you the tools to do so. It's driving me mad. I'm sick of the "backlash of public opinion"; The "search" isn't aided by this publicity, it's hindered by it.

I've got an idea, folks, let's leave the fictional detective work to P.D James and factual stuff to the police, before the media really messes things up.


Harriet said...

Sadly everyone I know keeps talking about it all around me. I think the saddest thing is that they treat it just like they do Eastenders, they babble about the latest tidbit of information as if it were the latest episode.

It's fucking scary I think, that people get such enjoyment out of passing judgement on others.
xxx xxx

AFC 30K said...

I think it's normal to be interested in the course of events. It's a situation that eceryone secretly fears; A child going missing. You can relat to it wheather you have children or not.

People are still haunted by the disappearance of Ben Needham in Crete and of course the murder of Jamie Bulger.

We are scared of strangers, yet we know that statistics show us that starnger on stranger crimes are very very rare and it is nornally a close relative or good friend how committed the deed.

I did form an opinion, but I formed that opinion within a very short time of the dissapearance. I do talk about the case ith others but only if they bring it up first.

Wifey and I do talk about it but she's a social psycologist and so is in her field of expertese.

I do agree that the media has turned it in to a curcus but is was the McCann's who courted the media to bring the situation to the fore. Unfortunatly, as Diana found, the media are unasy bedfellows; you can't turn them on and of as and when you want them.

A good thought provoking post for a Friday morning!

London-Lass said...

I was quite glad about Jose `The Perfect One' Mourinho leaving Chelsea as suddenly as he did (albeit with mutual consent). At least it got the McCanns off the front page of every newspaper.

That is all I have to say on the matter.

Jo said...

Harriet that's exactly what I'm on about, the amount of scuffling over information online is just disgusting - that yahoo answers link is just one of many similar sites of bored people online passing the blame in line with the latest headlines.

afc - Yes, I agree the case has caught my interest and you do get that horrible feeling when a child goes missing, it verges on a fascination with how awful it is. It always amazes me how publicly people express these views though. People switch their opinions with every paper they buy, and don't even get me started on 'they shouldn't have left them alone'. That's the most hypocritical public stance of all.

londonlass - that's probably the best opinion to have!

James said...

I couldn't agree more. I was in a waiting room the other day and some old woman piped up about it. She was asking the person next to her whether they thought the McCann's were guilty. I remember thinking to myself how sad it was that these conversations are probably happening all over this country at this moment.

If anyone asks me what I think, I reply with something along the lines of "Who the hell do you think I am, Columbo?"

Around My Kitchen Table said...

The real tragedy is that the focus is so much on the parents, that the police have stopped looking for little Madeleine.

Jo said...

James, glad you agree. Its annoying that these people...often OAPs, people with unrewarding jobs or nothing of interest in their own life to discuss, choose to impart their wisdom on the subject of a missing girl.

around - exactly - who knows what happened, but this scurmishing around surely can't be helping the search.


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