independent

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Should they have shown us dead Gaddafi?

SHEA TOMKINS

Wednesday: As you could attribute to many men of my generation, I grew up generalising that opera and all it stands for tailors to those with far more winters under their belts.

Tonight, I was offered the opportunity to attend the dress rehearsal for Maria, one of the productions featuring at this year's Wexford Opera Festival, and I accepted the invitation with a certain amount of scepticism: woe to my cultural shame. The show was excellent. Though I took my seat concerned that I would be clueless about what was unfolding on the stage in front of me, I needn't have been. It was surtitled, and easy to follow. Everything about the production was international class. I have now signed up to the opera appreciation society: the theatre hall no longer resigned, in my head, to a movie scene backdrop where an audience member gets wiped out. If you can get your hands on tickets, I thoroughly recommend Maria, by Roman Statkowski. The festival turned 60 at the weekend, and runs until November 5.

Friday: Two stories made me stop and think today. One involved the coverage surrounding the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, and the subsequent publication of images of his bloodied corpse by the media: the other was that of a two-year-old Chinese girl who was run over by two separate drivers, and left to die. Eighteen passers-by allegedly saw her injuries and kept going, unwilling to help. Further fuelling my disbelief, the tragedy was captured on a security camera and then posted on the internet. I was too horrified to play the video; there could not have been anything in it that I would want to see. In the case of a dead Gaddafi appearing on the covers of almost all our national papers, I found it unnecessary, as I would if any dead body were presented in a similar fashion. It is a good thing that the world is now rid of the man: I have a friend from my teaching days, whose father is Libyan, and has not been allowed return to his homeland for over 30 years. He found himself on the despot's hitlist when he left the Libyan army to marry a British woman. The tales of tyranny that he recounts astound. However, I don't think any good came of publishing the gruesome images of Gaddafi's corpse. I thought the outcry by the public would have been greater, but the growth in apathy is a reflection on how desensitised many of us have become in modern society. It takes more to shock us these days. As for the death of the Chinese girl, I fell dumb. Eighteen people passed her by as she lay dying on the street. Excuses, made in the aftermath, cite a case where a man brought an elderly lady who had fallen from a bus to hospital; he was then accused and convicted of injuring her, and had to pay damages. Perhaps these passers-by didn't want to share the same fate. It couldn't happen here – you hope.

Saturday: The week that is in it, I persuaded the good woman to watch the original version of The Omen (starring the impeccable Gregory Peck). She wasn't sure that she wanted to, but five minutes in, she was hooked. The only problem is, she has made me promise that I won't make reference to anything that happened in it ever again. Not out loud anyway; she doesn't want to think about it. The Omen is a classic horror film, built around suspense, and deserves the reputation it has earned. When it comes to spine chillers, however, I caught 30 seconds of a performance on tonight's X Factor, and I think there will be a lot scarier material broadcast on ITV this Halloween weekend.

Sunday: We had a good chat today about RTE's decision to ask their top earners to take a 30 per cent pay cut should they want to continue working at Montrose. It's true what they say – when poverty comes in the door, love flies out the window. With many of their flagship shows experiencing serious dips in listenership and viewership figures, it appears the Montrose bosses have lost faith in the old stock. It is difficult to understand how so much money can be paid to a handful of average presenters in the first place, when the national broadcaster repeatedly plays the poor mouth when it comes to sourcing capital to produce quality drama. This is not a pop at Fair City; it is as much loved as it is loathed. A word of respect goes to Joe Duffy who has already seen his salary reduced by 30 per cent. When asked if he and his top-earning colleagues are worth it, he replied that in comparison to a fire fighter or nurse, they are not. Well said.

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