Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ramsay Is The Nightmare

This is not the first time that I have suggested that it is wrong for Gordon Ramsay to be so handsomely rewarded for behavior which would be punished in anybody else. He makes millions of dollars out of appearing on television and abusing people. That’s it. It’s not about the cooking, it’s not about helping others to improve their cooking skills, it’s all about the confrontation and the shock value of viciously abusing people who are unable or unwilling to stand up for themselves. The foul language and the temper tirades directed at people in subordinate positions is supposed to be some kind of “tough guy” act, but it is not tough at all. In fact it is pathetic and vile. And yet people watch the shows and buy the books.

The trouble with rewarding bad behavior is that it encourages the behavior, and so long as acting like a spoilt brat earns him serious money, Ramsay will keep on doing it, and it will progressively get worse. The inexplicable, pointless and just downright nasty attack on Tracy Grimshaw is an illustration of this. It’s as if he thinks he’s just a cheeky boy, and as long as he’s cute enough he can get away with saying anything. So he becomes more and more outrageous until the point is reached when it goes too far, it’s not funny anymore, and then he might wonder why he’s getting criticized for doing what he has always done.

In some respects it is similar to the antics of drunken footballers, revered as heroes one moment, and then castigated for not knowing when to stop. Or the Chaser’s War On Everything, a television show built on the idea of targeting sacred cows, and unapologetically daring to say and do the unthinkable, but which lost its mojo by failing to understand that a joke actually has to be funny before we can forgive the offense it might cause. In the same way, Gordon Ramsay has been rewarded for breaking the rules, and has forgotten that there is a difference between being comical and being a brat.

The worst of it is the fact that this man gets paid to be a bully at a time when we are struggling with the challenge of bullying in schools, bullying in the workplace, and anti-social behavior generally. It’s not his fault that other people are rude and obnoxious, but as long as it is seen to be a passport to success we will continue to struggle with those problems. Rewarding him for that behavior is not just wrong for him, and unfair to the people he attacks, but it is also an insult to the rest of us who are trying to tell out kids not to use bad language and not to push people around.

I don’t know whether or not he is any good at cooking, because I don’t care to watch his show. But I suspect that anyone who needs to rely on such tactics to aggrandize himself most be severely deficient in his abilities in other areas. Certainly, such behavior in anybody else would prompt questions about his mental stability. I don’t care what he does in his private life, I just don’t think we should have to put up with him in public any more.

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