EDITORIAL WEDNESDAY 28.01.09.
In the endless pursuit of ratings it seems that television executives simply can’t help themselves but to lose all sense of propriety and perspective. There’s nothing better, it seems, than a good old confrontation. Conflict is drama, and drama is entertainment, and entertainment is showbiz, so to some extent we should all know better than to take television too seriously. But we have delivered ourselves a medium where trivia is news, gossip is commentary, and almost everything is fair game.
It has been reported that Channel Seven allegedly offered to pay for Damir Dokic to fly to Melbourne where his daughter has been attracting admiration with the magnificent revival of her tennis career. Every Australian knows the background to the story of Jelena and her father. Every Australian has some sort of understanding of what she has been through. Every Australian that I know of wants Jelena to do well, because she deserves to have the opportunity to fulfill her potential.
Allegedly, Channel Seven also arranged for Damir’s passport to be renewed and the trip was all set to go ahead, until he discovered that officials at Melbourne Park had no intention of allowing him to enter the venue. So he said no. Thankfully, Jelena was spared the potential embarrassment of an unwanted encounter, or even simply the distraction of knowing that such a side-show was taking place.
The question has to be asked however, just what did Channel Seven hope to achieve? Did they want to set up some sort of emotionally explosive and unwelcome reunion? Did they want to provoke a confrontation between Damir Dokic and tennis officials? Or did they just want to get some video footage of a forlorn Damir standing at the gates of Melbourne Park, denied the opportunity to see his daughter redeem her career? Whatever they wanted, they wanted on camera.
The pathetic thing is that if it had happened, people, some at least, would have fallen for it and watched breathlessly as the concocted drama unfolded, muttering to themselves about the nasty Damir, but not for a moment condemning the television puppet masters who revel in the idea that any controversy is a good controversy, no matter how contrived. Remember this is the same bunch of self important ethically bankrupt myopic miscreants who chained a pensioner to her bed to misrepresent a nursing home. That happened on Today Tonight, but it’s not just the one programme, and it’s not just the one network. It’s an epidemic of ethical entropy which has afflicted almost all media.
In the meantime, Jelena has proven to be a wonderful inspiration for all Australians. Her match against Dinara Safina was the most thrilling and suspenseful contest and right up to end it seemed that the game was within her grasp. Even at match point, the possibility of hanging on and taking the match was a very real one. To have lost that match does not diminish the overwhelming success of her comeback one jot.
And I disagree completely with the newspaper headline which read: “Jelena Dokic Fairytale Ends”. If what we saw at the Australian Open is any indication at all, the fairytale is just beginning.