ISN'T is a good thing we don't look to our politicians to set a positive example?
Oh, I know, if we wanted to name and shame the hooligans we'd be here all week, but the particular chap in mind is former Republican presidential candidate John McCain. This week the wag was caught red-handed playing poker on his phone during a Senate debate on that frippery of a subject, Syria.
Senator McCain's worst crime was to mischieviously tweet: "Scandal! Caught playing iPhone game at 3+ hour Senate hearing - worst of all I lost!"
As one of the loudest and most consistent pro-interventionist voices you might have assumed he'd at least do some undetectable daydreaming, should an extended Senate meeting prove too much. But daydreaming, there's a device ruined by the smartphone.
Still, in McCain's defence, it's easier to get distracted than get involved, a truism ignored by celebrity statement-maker Alyssa Milano who has released a sex tape of a quirky nature. In a stunt speaking volumes to the now-accepted and uncontestable fact that the surest way to involve the majority in weighty matters is to find a celebrity and strip them, the actress has taken part in a stunt that sees her film herself pretending to go to bed with a hunk.
At the crucial moment the camera is knocked round to record a news bulletin about Syria. "If people learn something about the crisis in Syria," she said, "That's a good thing - even if I had to do a sex tape to lure them in."
While we've been distracted with iPoker and sex tapes, the campaigning web platform Change.com, a force for good, has been hijacked for nefarious purposes. This is the site that helped Trayvon Martin's parents bring the man who shot their son to court.
Now furious fans of Fifty Shades of Grey, that illustrious tome, have co-opted the beacon of progress to express capped-up disgust at the casting of Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson in the forthcoming film adaptation. More than 17,000 people have signed a petition on the site to have those actors replaced with Matt Bomer and Alexis Bledel. The petition ends, "Please please, all of the Grey-sessed and Bomerettes in the world need those actors. They always will be for us the Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. We can do anything, guys. Anything."
It's not the first time, either. Precedence was set last month when some die-hard set up a petition to replace Ben Affleck as the new Batman and secured 90,000 e-signatures.
My mind wanders back 10 years to when millions marched in the street against the Iraq War - yes, for all the good it did - and then 2005 when thousands gathered for Make Poverty History during the 31st G8 summit at Gleneagles. At that time NGOs rallied the populace with a political and cultural campaign, which, though largely ineffectual, got people out on the streets. Look at this year; in Enniskillen in June the camp was tiny, on the first day just seven protesters and one of them a dog.
Is it technology, is it the proliferation of reality television, is it the ever-increasing power of celebrity that has us so easily distracted by nonsense and trivia? It's not an all-round improvement in the state of the nation, that's for sure. There exists hundreds of things we could - and should - be protesting.
Iraq and the G8 are good and bad historical examples in equal measure: good for their powerful turnout and bad for their complete failure to achieve. Maybe it's not technology and all-pervasive celebrity but rather the fact people have simply learned they will not be listened to and so have their heads turned willingly by guaranteed gratification.
The Grey-sessed and Bomerettes in the world are right on one point - we can do anything, guys. Anything. But only if we're paying attention first.
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