Put a Sock In It

Ryan Giggs

Image via Wikipedia

(published in Gwangju News – July)


page 34

British footballer Ryan Giggs, one of the finest footballers the UK has produced recently got harangued recently across the press for trying to cover up an alleged extra martial affair.

A ‘super-injunction’, a legal gagging order that not only prevents the media from reporting a story, but also blocking any attempts to mention that there is even an injunction in place, was brought out across all media.  The Manchester United’s winger reportedly paid vast sums of cash to money hungry lawyers to muzzle all newspapers, television and radio, plus any website in the UK public domain from mentioning anything.

Off the record journalists that had known for some time about famous celebrities who used their bloated bank accounts to fend off newspapers from delving into their lives became powerless to cover it.

You may ask who gives a damn about Z-list celebrities getting caught having sex at two in the morning and whether we, the public have a right to know about it.  You’re probably right, we don’t need to know about it, but that misses the point.  The super-injunction can do real damage for the public at large when stinky rich businesses do activities that unfairly attack or hinder the weak and uninformed then knowing block the free press from reporting anything about it.

Take Trafigura, back in 2009, the multi-national energy supplier brought out a super-injunction against the UK’s Guardian newspaper.  The paper had planned to report that the company was dumping vast quantities of toxic waste off the Ivory Coast.  But before it went to press Trafigura contacted Carter & Ruck, an aggressive, London based law firm and quickly danced off to the High Court to impose a blanket on the piece.  If the newspaper planned on releasing even a whiff of the story they would face drastic repercussions including imprisonment, seizure of assets and be made to watch ‘I’m America’s Next Top Toxic Barren’.

It looked like the British legal system, which has come under scrutiny for several years for being a honey pot for large corporations, with its libel and defamation laws would continue to help out the corporate heavyweights, but thanks to a bit of tradition and a bit of the new, the article did eventually come out.

Parliamentary Privilege, a UK law dating back hundreds of years gives an Member of Parliament (MP) the right to discuss any matter he considers in the public interest in the House of Commons and for that to be freely reported in the press.  MP Paul Farrelly used his privilege and spoke up about the injustice.  This plus as the Internet becomes a borderless horizon such whistle-blowing sites such as Twitter and WordPress.com, which are not governed by any restrictive ‘legal’ guidelines and therefore can write whatever the hell they like.  So with all their billions in the bank and thousands of lawyers on its books, heavy-handed institutions can be made to confess with just a strong minded government minister and one-hundred and forty words message.

(This was published in the July issue of Gwangju News, a magazine run by ex-patroits in Gwangju, South Korea

By David Holt

‘I Have a Talent, a Wonderful Thing…’

It is interesting to see how the number of people who are forever searching for that elusive dream of being popular.  To what lengths will people throw their lives into the public domain just so they can continue to Google their own name over their morning Cornflakes?

The recent lusting after who was the unfortunate footballer to have had his ‘tail away’ with Imogen Thomas is a perfect example of how our society wants to do nothing more than pry into the goings-on of a person far richer and more successful than ourselves.  I think that Ryan Giggs was right to try to protect his family from having his name splashed across every newspaper, but he is still a pristine moron for having an affair to someone whose only claim to fame was that she was on Big Brother 48 and was Miss Wales a few years back, I mean that’s not even a real country!  Did he really think that she wouldn’t try to sell her story to the Daily Mirror?  Footballers are not known for being the sharpest knives in the drawer.  I doubt Eric Cantona would have even blinked an eyelid if an allegation such as this were to come out when he was playing.

But it is just another example of people wanting to do everything they can to be on the front page and being talked about.  Not to overdo a phrase, but as Oscar Wilde wrote: ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about!’   Do people crave money and success in order to be famous, or do they think that by being famous they will achieve money and success?  And usually it is the people who aren’t particularly blessed with any expertise and have any discernible talent that are the ones that are hurled across the tabloids like a baby throwing up over your new car seat!  David Attenborough, for example, in the million years that he has been on our TV screens there has not be a single soul who has said a negative word to the man.  Billy Connolly, Michael Caine, David Frost, even David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker, someone who is young and whose job it is to antagonize everyone else in the public domain, yet for some reason there is not a tabloid nark lurking behind his daffodils.

They call it ‘Celebrity’ culture, the adulation of people who, believe it or not, are made from flesh and blood as you and I, but for some reason, probably because they are better looking than we are, they are thus given pots of money to stand on streets corners and gawk around and be photographed.  But when they want to cease being the centre of attention and instead snort cocaine of the toes of some 16-year old Russian they find that the press still want to show off their new talent for putting things up their nostrils.  It seems like Andy Warhol over-estimated exactly how long people would be famous for, but still there is no shortage of people willing to take just a meagre 15 seconds of fame let alone the full 15 minutes.

Survey after continual survey shows that the state with which the youth of Britain think nothing of quitting school at the age of 13 and signing up to join ‘I’m a Fat Arse That Can’t Stop Eating Chocolate For Breakfast Because My Mother Worked Long Hours And Couldn’t Cook Me a Decent Meal,’ show, or ‘I Have a Talent I Really Do, If Only Someone Would Give Me The Money And Make Me Popular I Could Show Everyone’.   Simon Cowell is probably more to blame more than anyone, though he doesn’t actually deserve it after all he is probably a very successful businessman who saw a gap in the market and realised that most of the people in the world are stupid enough to buy into anything.

Will it ever end? I hope not because nothing quite riles up a public debate as to the point of pointless people!