EDITORIAL MONDAY 02.02.09.
Sometime after the age of about 14 the use of swear words ceases to be a novelty. Everybody has heard them, most people use them at some time or other, whether in anger, frustration, pain, or amusement. We have accepted the use of bad language in drama as a reflection of the behavior of real people in the real world, despite the obvious flaw in that argument. But it is still not considered polite in public, or even in mixed company, so why is it considered to be entertainment to have a so-called reality TV show where an egotistical chef is seen bullying and abusing his subordinates in the kitchen.
Apparently, Gordon Effing Ramsay has broken his own record for the number of times he uses the “F” word in a television show. In a two hour program he reportedly clocked up 132 “F” words, along with 50 more uttered by the recipients of his tirades. It really doesn’t matter whether or not he can actually cook, or if his recipes are any good. All that matters is the drama of the confrontations played out for the amusement of the audience.
Is this really entertainment? Well, as long as people find it entertaining, I suppose by definition it is, and if nobody watched the show, no TV network would put it on. But people also stop and stare at a car accident, or at a punch-up at the pub, or at a disfigured person in the street. It’s human nature. But that doesn’t make it right or good, or even desirable. People who behave like Gordon Ramsay are talking tough to hide their own inadequacies. People who resort to constant bad language lack the capacity to say anything intelligent. People who bully their subordinates are grossly insecure themselves.
If there were no television cameras, and no world wide audience, and Gordon Ramsay was abusing his employees in this way he would be guilty of harassment in the workplace. If I carried on like that with my work colleagues I would be sacked and possibly sued. Even if it is all theatre, it remains gratuitous, demeaning and offensive. There are shows on television with even stronger language, but they can be clever, well written and outrageously funny. Ramsay is just outrageous.
Of course, I don’t have to watch, and so I don’t. It’s a free country, and I’m free to switch off and do something better with my time. But it baffles me why so many people are so impressed by a bloke behaving like an insufferably spoilt child. Surely people would like to see something on television which is more entertaining. Surely we can do better than glorifying arrogance.
Here’s an idea. If Gordon Ramsay acting tough is so thrilling, why don’t we go all the way? Why don’t we turn the heat up a notch and really put him to the test? Wouldn’t you love to see a camera crew following Gordon Ramsay around as he tried his tough guy act out on some characters who really are tough. Let’s see him try to push around some wharfies, or some truckies, or some bikies. Let’s see him yell obscenities at fully armed tactical response police officers, or some S.A.S. commandos and get that on video tape. Then we’d see some entertainment!