What is Wrong With Us?
On Saturday night I was listening to a radio show I’d never heard before. The show’s format was fairly typical for a music station; arrogant male host, giggling female side kick and sycophanitc producer types laughing and whooping on cue in the background. However, something that happened on the show was so shocking I still can’t stop thinking about it.
The host of the show had got his female side-kick to phone up a guy they both knew and pretend that she wanted to have an affair with him. The guy was living with another woman and they had just had a baby together.
The recording of the phone call was then played on the radio show so we could all hear the guy leaving the room where the mother of his child was, to go and tell the female side-kick that, yes, he would love to come down to London to have a night of meaningless sex with her.
If this wasn’t bad enough, after playing the recording of the conversation, the show’s host then declared the phone lines open for a live poll – with the question being – “Should I call his girlfriend and tell her what kind of love rat she is living with? Should I smash their relationship?” This was all delivered with such venomous glee that it literally rendered me speechless – no mean feat on a Saturday night after a good few glasses of merlot.
Wasn’t it bad enough that they had created this ‘honey’ trap and broadcast the guy being led by his **** straight into it? Wasn’t it bad enough that any one of the poor girlfriend’s friends or relatives or even her herself might have been listening? Could there be anything more excruciating than hearing your partner talking dirty with another person? But to want to call her and break her heart live on air takes broadcasting to a new low, surely? It was like Jeremy Vile, sorry Kyle, going on the rampage with a turkey baster to artificially inseminate poor helpless women so that he could then drag them on his show to gleefully tell their boyfriends that they weren’t the daddy.
But as the show went to an ad break I decided that it must all be a ploy and that there was no way he would really call this poor woman.
Despite the fact that most of the listeners who called in seemed to be telling him in no uncertain terms not to, the host decided that actually, he knew best and he would call up this woman and “smash” her family.
What happened next was excruciating in the extreme.
He called her. She was lovely. He asked her all about the baby and her partner and if they had any plans to get married. She said, yes, she had proposed to him and that they were very happy together. He asked her if she could trust him. She started to sound confused and a little afraid.
The host then asked to speak to the boyfriend. He asked him if he had “been up to anything interesting lately”. The boyfriend immediately smelt a rat / himself and started making excuses to get off the phone.
The host asked to be put back on to the girlfriend. The rat said that she was in the toilet. The girlfriend could be heard in the background saying, “No I’m not, why are you saying that?”
The host again asked if he could speak to her. The love rat and his girlfriend were heard grappling for the phone while she pleaded to know what was going on. Then the line went dead.
Cue much excitement in the studio.
“I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t smash her family, she was too sweet,” said the kind-hearted host.
“Oooh I feel so guilty,” shrieked his lovely side-kick.
They then carried on with the rest of the show without a care in the world. But all I could think about was the sweet young mum somewhere who would now be plunged into a hell of doubt and unanswered questions.
Then yesterday I went into the paper shop and was rendered speechless yet again by two tabloid headlines. Both were equally gleeful. One detailed Kerry Katona’s husband’s latest indiscretions. The other unveiled “secrets from Michael Jackson’s deathbed”. Both were accompanied by graphic pictures.
Is this really what we are becoming? Do we really want to revel in other people’s heart-ache or even death? Do we want to view infidelity as if it were some sick spectator sport? Do we want to see pictures of a dying man’s incontinence pad whilst we munch away on our Weetabix in the morning?
If a free press and media is a reflection of the society it represents then what is ours saying about us right now?