The furore that has erupted around this story today is hysterical. Consider the content of what they are actually saying – a man who happens to be 75 gets a tattoo. Why is it news? Because of his age? Job? Or is there another reason?
Why are we constantly “surprised” that everyone over 65 isn’t dead or devoid of personality. Some of the most interesting and biggest characters I have known have been OAPs but we still seem to pigeonhole them into the beige and boring bracket. Think about all the people you know – many of the young friends and family you know are beige and boring and they will always be thus. It’s nothing to do with age, more to do with attitude.
There is also the supposition that because David Dimbleby presents a political programme and is the voice of the nation for special events he can’t be interesting. Again why is that true? There is a perception that politics are boring and all associated with it are too. Again that’s a huge generalisation that is wrong and again think of those people in your life who are boring – many of them will have no interest in politics either.
It comes back to the blog I did the other day where I was discussing labels and how we pin them on people. I don’t know where it comes from or why it exists – media, politicians or some other organisation – but it seems to dictate who we are allowed to be and pulls people into groups that cannot move from that perception. For example you can’t be a Librarian who like Heavy Metal, Estate Agents can’t be nice or honest, Train spotters can’t be interesting. It’s more than a stereotype too as it isn’t caricaturing people, it’s defining them which is wrong.
We all come with several labels from family and work, yet I find myself constantly questioning those things all the time. Yesterday’s blog on “My Face” is another example where teachers and lecturers are seen in a certain way – cold, emotionless and uninterested in anything except “the work”. And with those labels comes all the things we are allowed to say or think about them.
Consider the following groups – Police, Teachers and Nurses. These are people that it has been decided don’t deserve our respect anymore – they used to be seen as good occupations and pillars of society but because of a tiny minority are written and talked about in the press for wrongdoing we all end up in the same barrow. Who gets the respect? Firemen do because we know how dangerous their jobs are and soldiers to an extent do too although the press are doing their best to erode that trust at the moment. Soap stars, pop stars, reality stars, footballers, actors and actresses – regardless of their behaviour, arrests and idiocy are given society’s approval. When did this happen? When did we make these decisions – more importantly who made these decisions that there are certain labels that define people and occupations, illnesses, clothes, weight etc that define society’s opinions.
Dimbleby’s Tattoo being a news story and being considered as anything “serious” shows how low we are sinking as a society. We are better than this, we have things of much greater importance to concern ourselves with – and while it’s a bit of fun it does represent a sad fact: today more people will ask each other if they saw David’s tattoo than will ask if you have donated to the Typhoon Appeal. Trivia wins every time.