Posted by: barbaraneill | February 3, 2013

Making a splash, and redressing the balance

“Splash” is the latest concept in TV ‘reality’ shows, in which a number of celebrities compete in a contest to establish who can execute the most spectacular dive into a swimming pool. Splash reached its conclusion last night with the final in which Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards was deservedly crowned champion diver after demonstrating his ability to learn new skills and techniques very quickly, overcome challenges; he was in considerable pain after hitting the water badly during training, and remaining focused enough to deliver a complex and near perfect dive.

This doesn’t sound very much like the buffoon who seemed incapable of winning anything, as portrayed by the media in the nineteen eighties, when Eddie Edwards was an Olympic ski jumper. Thanks to his representation by the media at the time, he was known more as a figure of fun than the sportsman he obviously was. Instead of making jokes about him, it would have been admirable to remember that Eddie Edwards had, at least, qualified to take part in the Olympics. Shouldn’t that be an achievement to celebrate rather than ridicule? How fitting, then, that he made such a statement by winning the ‘Splash’ championship and even scoring a perfect 30 from the judges at one point during the contest, in spite of the fact that he is soon to celebrate his fiftieth birthday!

Seeing Eddie Edwards redress the balance of his previous (undeserved) ‘bad press’ also brings to mind the time when eighties pop star Gary Numan was learning to fly. After crashing his plane, he too was ridiculed by the media and also became the butt of many jokes as a result. In later years, however, he became a respected pilot, leading a team of aerobatic Harvard pilots. Apparently, Harvards are notoriously difficult to fly whilst performing aerobatics. It seems a shame that having had his mishaps, during his early days as a pilot, publicised so widely, the same level of media attention hasn’t been given to Gary Numan’s achievements.

It appears to be a sad fact that the media is more than happy to kick people when they are, (or appear to be), down, but rather less enthusiastic when it comes to redressing the balance. Perhaps the next time we read in the press about benefit ‘scroungers’ or unemployed ‘skivers’, we might do well to remember that.

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