Sterile Worlds

Sky did apologize, because Wayne Rooney spoke in foul language right in front of the camera. This is not supposed to happen. TV-worlds aren’t like that. TV world’s show only the best of man’s behaviour. Certainly, they don’t show a “role model” like Wayne Rooney using expletives. But reality sometimes defies ideology and so it happened: Foul language, completely audible, in front of a camera, transmitted throughout the world, beyond believe.

Or isn’t it? Sometimes I wonder why some of these people who populate e.g., broadcaster’s facilities, think they must correct reality, beep-out for instance the swearwords everybody knows. It’s a part of the real life to express emotions. But in official broadcasted life, it seems that real life is only present in its cleansed version: Show (com-)passion without being (com-)passionate. Show your compassion in a politically correct way, e.g., by weeping your eyes out for someone you never met in your entire life, but whose death leaves you utterly devastated. Three C’s, as Theodore Dalrymple put it, rule this world imagined: “compassion, caring and crying in public”.

Correct utterance of compassion is a compassion imagined, it is in the words of Patrick West “projecting one’s ego, and informing others what a deeply caring individual you are. It is about feeling good, not doing good” (West, 2004, p.1). It is no compassion at all. It’s a substitute for compassion, because compassion needs doing something, something you can be compassionate about. Real emotions, especially if they are passionate not compassionate, are not for public display and, therefore, broadcasters flock around like chicken, when confronted with the real thing. Original and substitute won’t fit. So you have to denounce the original in order to retain the substitute.

As to me, I do not want to inhabit this surrogate world where passion is only present in peoples’ imagination. I prefer Rooney’s outburst to the hysterics of people who want you to believe that they deeply bemoan the fatal consequences of children’s witnessing Rooney’s foul language or the loss of Patient X in Ward 12.


West, Patrick (2004). Conspicuous Compassion. Why Sometimes it Really is Cruel to be Kind. London: Civitas.

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