Friday, July 13, 2007

Aesthetics of Death

Warning, a major rant follows.

As mentioned previously, I was rather concerned as to why the abduction of the little girl in Nigeria received relatively little coverage compared to the Madelaine McCann story. Thankfully, she has been returned to her family but that is besides the point. Yes, the little girl lives in Nigeria but her father is British and I understood she is a British citizen too. Plus, it was actually known what had happened to her, a terrible event, whereas as far as any of us really know, MM may have just wandered out of their apartment and fallen into a ditch/the sea (as I've read speculated elsewhere). Then there was the whole political angle about multinationals in Nigeria - plenty of stuff in the story worthy of coverage. But it wasn't given many colunm inches at all.

Then today's main stories. A beautiful girl connected to a posh school was murdered by a drug-addicted man also connected to the same posh school. She was a fashion-designer and alot of the print was about how beautiful she was, and her father said it was her downfall. This is debateable as the young man was having delusions so the same fate may have befallen her if she was ugly, but you can bet it wouldn't have got the same amount of coverage if she had been.

Next, on leaving work, I saw the newspaper heads ' Television Singer Murdered'. Who I wondered, struggling to think of many television singers - Lesley Garrett? Jane MacDonald? Howard from the Halifax adverts? No, it turned out it was a girl who had been on Stars in their Eyes. The news of her, her mother and brother's bodies being found should alone have been enough but the London papers decided to take this spin on the story, as if her appear on some television show somehow made it all the more tragic.

In the same way whenever there is the death of some young woman, whether by tragic accident, NHS cock-up or at the hands of a crazed ex-boyfriend, more often than not it seems she will have been a model or described as wanting to be a model (even when, not wanting to talk ill of the dead, they frankly had no chance of actually being a model). As if the loss of a potential model is somehow worse than if she'd wanted to be a nurse, teacher or even a secretary.

What happens to the victims who've never entered a televised talent show, are ugly and never wanted to be famous? Is the crime against them somehow lesser? It certainly receives less coverage. And do the newspaper reading public 'enjoy' these stories of death of the beautiful/talented, taking a voyeuristic pleasure in their demise, like Hitchcock making his beautiful blondes suffer?


Anonymous said...

good rant and so's like if you are a celebrity or media star or had some fame then you are somehow worthier than the rest of us mundanities

I was exactly the same when I saw the standard headline

Chocolate & cherries said...

I'm glad I am not the only one who thinks these things! There is a really good book called "An Ordinary Murder" written by the mother of a girl who was murdered, worth a read

M said...

Good rant, troubling observations, all.

Miss Forthright said...

It's all very true, a death is sad no matter how attractive the person was. Media=bullshit.