back to article Maddy: TV torture for the ADD generation

Following the first Gulf War of 1991, the French social theorist Jean Baudrillard made the famous statement that "the Gulf War did not take place". It was seized on by academics, journalists, and pub intellectuals in the English-speaking world as a prime example of the absurdity and irresponsibility of French philosophy. When he …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Sir Runcible Spoon

    God help us

    "Once the McCann frenzy dies down, many will find an empty space in their lives"

    Perhaps these people should take a moment to reflect upon how pointless their existence is up to this point in time and resolve to change this fact - a good start would be not to watch the bloody telly/read magazine articles all the time.

    If only excessive television made you sterile, the world's average IQ would gradually rise over time would it not?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    To be quite frank, the whole McCann media circus makes me feel physically sick. I try to avoid it as much as I possibly can.

    The worst offenders are those hypocritical media organisations that attempt to avoid the gutter press pigs-with-snouts-in-trough image by pretending to provide coverage of the media scrum instead of the McCann's ordeal directly (BBC News are an obvious example, here).

    They still, however, camp outside the McCann's home with the rest of the jackals, and still have cameras and microphones pushed to the fore when any foetid morsel of 'news' is in the offing.

    Fore f**ck sake, give it a rest. It will all be resolved in the end without the media filth following every move.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the technology angle, to quote mel gibson in Lethal Weapon

    was thin, "anorexic" thin.

    No bad thing I suppose, as at least it shows el Reg is not an island of isolation.

    I've been following the story since its outset, and you make good points.

    I wouldn't go as far as to say I will have an empty void when the story does conclude, quite simply, I'd say that other trivial endeavours have taken a back seat for the 30 minutes a day I portion off for "keeping my self abreast of current affairs".

  4. Paul Naylor

    A very interesting piece

    I totally agree with the author of this piece, and with Sir Runcible Spoon. There is obviously a demand for this kind of television, be it news or reality TV and it seems to me that the lines between the two 'genres' are beginning to blur alarmingly.

    Do we have technology to blame for this? People are consuming technology with the net result that they don't actually have to go out into 'the real world' and interact socially, with real people. Why should they when there a million blogs and interactive systems such as Second Life? The media add to this by making us scared to walk out of the house. So, instead, their interraction is with the people on the TV or in the news. And the human compulsion to reach out to people results in us assuming that we have a part to play in a total stranger's life, even if it's at a subconscious level..

    One recent event where this was so disgustingly evident was the recent death of Jane Tomlinson. I have the utmost respect for the woman but to have her funeral played on large public TV screens, like some version of the Truman Show was alarming and tacky to the extreme. And yet those that sucumbed to it call me cynical or hard faced.

    Roger Waters once summed up our media hungry society thus: "This species has amused itself to death..."

  5. Robert Ramsay

    And the media doesn't give a monkeys...

    ...about any of the other children who disappear every day, whose parents aren't nice middle class white people who can get an audience with the Pope.

    I'll go have a lie down now.

  6. Magnus Egilsson

    Digital Druqs

    I wonder how much similarity is now between the basic behavioral patterns of a heroin junkie and the media consumer?

    As for the McCann case, she was reported lost weeks ago, has the situation changed :P

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Once the McCann frenzy dies down, many will find an empty space in their lives."

    I dare say those who do will find new topics on which to write articles.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The McCanns

    What I find most bizarre of all is how the McCann's themselves seem to have not just encouraged, but orchestrated this whole media frenzy.

    Keeping a blog? Flying to America to see anti-abduction specialists? Meeting the Pope?

    Then, when suspicions turned against them, complaining about the media intrusion as if forgetting that they themselves generated the heat in the first place.

    Personally I find it disgusting that £1m has been donated to the Find Maddy fund, far in excess of the money that missing person charities receive to find thousands of people every year. One missing/dead girl is sad, but the response is not just disproportionate but downright insulting to every other missing or murdered person who will fail to raise more than a column inch or two of publicity.

    I am not sure what to make of Maddy's parents' reaction to this. At first I was sure they must have killed her themselves - only an outcome as bizarre as that would be fitting for this surreal story. Or perhaps they feel so guilty for leaving her home alone that they have felt the need to drastically over-comensate in their search for her. Or perhaps the story is real and this circus is really what they need to help them grieve.

    Whatever it is, this sorry story stands as testament to our broken society and its warped sense of priorities.

  9. Dunstan Vavasour

    Pastiche of newspapers in Private Eye

    A couple of issue ago, Private Eye gave the commentary without writing a single word. They had a graphic which ran across the bottom of two pages which was simply a sequence of tabloid front pages, showing how often they had a front page Madeliene story. No caption, no comment, it made its own point. And a fair number of them also had a banner for an article about Diana inside.

    However, I don't think this vicarious living pattern is anything new, just more immediate, more intense and more visible.

  10. Nano nano

    And the ADD/ADHD angle is ....?

    .. or is that just a convenient shorthand (=lazy medical stereotype) for 24-hour news updates ?

    Still, people with autism and schizophrenia get it too ...

  11. Jonathan Whiteley

    RE:Pastiche of newspapers in Private Eye

    That was only a single news paper; the Daily Express. The Express front page is limited very few subjects: Diana, the weather, and recently has contracted Maddie fever, going so far as to earn the nickname, the Daily Maddie. The other tabloids haven't been quite so bad, although it's fair to say that has been a particulatrly vapid response throughout the entire media.

  12. Craig Collier

    i heartily agree...

    Brilliant pice, well written from the right perspective i think.

    "What I find most bizarre of all is how the McCann's themselves seem to have not just encouraged, but orchestrated this whole media frenzy."

    just about sums it up, as above, this may be to cover up their guilt, or to try and compensate in their search for their daughter, to be honest though, i really don;'t care, and i stopped caring about 5 minutes after i first heard that lots of Portuguese kids have gone missing since Madeleine, and none of those have been found either.

    Why should we care more about this one child when thousands of people around the world are in much worse situations than this, the media circus just fuels their fire.

    anyway, i got more important things to do... :)

  13. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Cult of the child" Book 13

    what i find to be even more incredible a statment than, "Aliens abduct photgenic white girl" is that upon leaving portugal, the parents had the gaul to say they where leaving to get space from teh media circle!??? - as other have pointed out, but they are the key ring leaders of the coverage?

  15. Phil

    Ask the audience

    I imagine being able to vote for who the police should arrest next would be very popular. They could get Chris Tarrant to do it.

    "Well, Inspector Knacker, you still have three lines-of-enquiry left: 50-50, phone a friend or ask the audience."

  16. Dan


    What I find a little strange is that how larger-than-life this whole thing is, when kids who go missing without the surreal stages of (according to what we are fed by the media) being sedated and left alone, are apparently not newsworthy...

    Re the article though, I agree, the circus that accompanies any awful event makes me sick.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the sickness has been long lasting and is quite embarassing. Although I've only noticed it since the witch (Diana) died, I was a touch young before hand.

    Sensationalism drives the media, and the citizenship wants to be whipped up into a frenzy, becouse at the end of the day they are all really quite weak.

    Peadophilles, immigrants, this random kid, the witch (Diana), the bulger incident, terrorism, the list goes on. People submerge themselves in lunacy thinking that in some way it makes them more human, sadly it is defenetly one of the things that we can be quite sure makes them less human.

    People should spend more time looking at what is happening inside their own homes, and just outside the window rather then what is happening in the lives of people you'll never meet. A feux sympathy, this fake sentimentality, this non sensical familiarity, there is no connection, only an imagined fantasy in the mind of the consumer and the profits of the media organisation.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sick and tired....

    Like everyone else posting here I am heartily fed up with the media's handling of ANY tragedy, let alone this business with McCann minor. What also sickens me is the willingness of ANY of their friends to pony up an opinion to the waiting media jackels. This just strikes me as exacerbating an already nasty problem.

    So who is worse? The Media jackels, the people who step up to feed them, or the sheeple who seem to crave it?

    This also creates and enviroment where dissension with the "Media View" is discouraged. Say "I am sick of Maddy" in public and just watch for the scandalised looks! I've even been criticed by some woman for saying to my mate that I wasn't interested in reading more about the kid!! Anyone remember when Bill Connolly remarked on how bored he was with the Ken Bigley nonsense? He's SUPPOSED to be tactless... that's why he is funny.

    The other issue I have is that this sidelines and minimises the sorrow for other lost children - I mean, how many other families lose their child and get to meet World Leaders and the Pope? None. Frankly I am fed up seeing the kid's face plastered over every news webapage, on every email (Angel for Maddy anyone??) and fed up of every time I read or watch or listen to any piece of news it's got some mention of her in it.

    *goes into corner to calm down*

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Reporter: We're observing the media frenzy, this is a disgrace

    Studio: Can you get any closer and let us know more?

    Reporter: I'm moving closer, we are now at the edge of the media scrum, we are entering the media scrum, this is a total frenzy, these people really are shits.

    (With thanks to Armando Ianuchi)

  20. James R Curry

    Not entirely true...

    "But reality TV from the news department is always a one-off - there will be no sequel."

    Not so. Even now, OJ Simpson is gearing up to take a starring role in the sequel to his erstwhile hit reality series from the mid-1990s.

  21. Hywel

    Spelling frenzy

    What makes me angry most of all is not the media frenzy, the manipulation of the media and by the media, or the sheer inanity and meaninglessness of it all, but how most of the comments here have rather poor sentence construction and spelling. Am I focusing on the wrong thing?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With respect and sympathy...

    ... they're now going to use the media as a proxy defense, when actually they should disappear from the spotlight and answer the charges in private.

    I have the deepest sympathy for Madeleine, family and friends, but if anybody knew and willing to reveal her whereabouts they would have spoken by now - they haven't and the out of time bell should ring out!

  23. Elisa

    Not New

    Not even the 24-hour coverage of limited information. Floyd Collins, a spelunker, got trapped in a cave in Kentucky, US, back in 1925. It was a 24-hour news event then. Evidently a reporter actually visited him in the cave and interviewed and fed him but could not free him. Here's a link

    I'm sure at that time plenty of miners were trapped in caves with no hope of rescue, with no where near the publicity, similar to how many children disappear but Madeliene gets the attention.

    I think stories of this nature become large when circumstances align.

    --- The victim(s) are attractive and sympathetic -- easy to identify with

    --- The central characters are flawed and complex -- ambitious, selfish, or poor judgement

    --- The public is personally uneasy -- uncertain economic times, war, or crime

    When I see a story take on a life of it's own, I've come to wonder what's really bothering people. Are they worried about their jobs? Do they think their government has lost its mind? Are they worried about their kids' future (more than normal)? I also wonder about the possible institutional motives for distracting the public.

    On the whole I don't blame the press. They're doing their jobs -- informing and entertaining for profit. It's the public that rewards the press.

    And I don't really blame the institutions (gov, biz, church, etc) for avoiding scrutiny by capitalizing on a distraction.

    And while it seems there's nobody left to blame but the public, maybe they *should* direct all that irrational uncertainty toward a sensational story so it doesn't get channeled into policy. (a la Patriot Act and Iraq War)

    I might rather more substantive news had priority but if the majority/vocal minority is so willing to be sucked in, maybe we ought to be thankful and wait for everybody to calm down.


  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get over it

    Both common sense and previous experience tells you that when a child goes missing and isn't found within hours, that child is dead.

    If a 34 year old fat bloke went missing (such as myself) would that generate the same amount of coverage? Obviously not.

    I'm fed up with this mass hysteria. The same thing happened when those two girls were murdered by Ian Huntley.

    Wake up and smell the coffee. Get over it.

  25. AndyB

    Re:Sick and Tired

    "The other issue I have is that this sidelines and minimises the sorrow for other lost children"

    And then some.

    I recall a report from (IIRC) Darfur, that recounted the tale of a young girl from a village that was raided by the (again, IIRC) Janjaweed. She was forced to watch as her family were raped and then murdered. Her brother was then told to rape her. He refused and was shot in the head. She was then raped and left for dead. She survived and staggered several miles to a neighbouring village.

    Puts the whole 'Maddy' thing into perspective, doesn't it?

  26. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  27. adnim

    Empty life without anothers tragedy?

    What a sad bunch these types are.

    The only control I need over media intrusion into my life is the ability to turn it off.

    As for reality TV, it is not reality TV when the participants are aware of the cameras. If the participants are not aware of the cameras it is then intrusion, and an invasion of privacy.

    The media, especially the tabloid press are vultures (no offence intended Reg). Anything that sells copy or ensnares another mindless viewer/reader is good to go.

    I agree with Sir Runcible regarding watching TV excessively making one sterile. That would do wonders for the gene pool. I would go further however, in wishing that watching 5 minutes of reality TV or a soap opera also made one sterile.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the article..

    "We are not viewing something that has been produced or manipulated for our entertainment or convenience.."

    Utter bollocks.

    From the start this story has been packaged and spun by the media into a tacky soap opera available in handy 1-page or 1-minute chunks.

    This story has caused me to abandon as terminally inane and trivial any 'news' source that gives it more than a passing mention (luckily El Reg has survived thus far).

    Once the girl is found one way or the other or someone is hauled up in court and a crime proven THEN this amount of media and public interest may be justified, for a short while, but the current feeding frenzy is frankly sickly voyeuristic and taints all who generate and consume it.

    All this crap does is help people to avoid thinking about the bigger tragedies - the worldwide trade in child sex workers, the death tolls of children in places like Dafur and Iraq and a litany of other obscene and ubiquitous horrors inflicted on less well-off, photogenic and media-savvy families.

  29. Rob

    Lucky me!

    I seem to have missed the whole of this sorry episode. I gave up on the news actually trying to report newsworthy things years ago. It spends most of its time trying to annoy me, anger me or depress me in one way or another, and I have plenty of things wasting my time without wasting more of it on such redundant crap.

    Hooray for no TV!

  30. Voice of reason

    You're being ironic right?

    i wondered how on earth el reg was going to weave a mccan story in, not exactly boot notes material, so well done on the high brow media morals angle. Nice one, knew you'd cave in eventually, this story is too big for you to resist joining in for ever.

    As for me, i'm not ashamed to admit being totally hooked on the story much better than the crap churned out by fictional programme writers there days.

    My money is on alien abduction, looks just as likely as any other theory. Maybe they should be testing that "meteor" crash site for traces of her DNA, possibly they were bringing her back and crashed their ship...

  31. James Smith

    Same we don't have this media ...

    Rather suspect.

    And personally I've always viewed the news, in whatever way it's reported as pure soap opera ... unless it's happening in your life personally it's complete dissemination any way.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Moral high ground

    "i really don;'t care, and i stopped caring about 5 minutes after i first heard that lots of Portuguese kids have gone missing since Madeleine, and none of those have been found either."

    Yes, that's so much better than caring about anything. Anything at all, even if it's just a small part of the picture.

  33. Chris Goodchild Silver badge


    Some of the article I agree wholeheartedly and some of it I don't but the bit that amazed me was the remark about big brother. Real people? Real life? Crap!

    The wannabe famous morons in big brother are hollow shells operated by the programme producers and directors. the only real thing about them is their patent artificiality.

  34. Anton Ivanov

    Dunno about McCain, but it is right about the war

    During the balkan wars we could predict major incidents and offensives. They always happened 1-2 weeks after the CNN team landed in the area. While correlation does not equal causation...

  35. Adrian Esdaile

    Nothing new under the sun

    Most Australians are likely staying well away from the Maddy story - we all remember only too well the Lindy/Azaria Chamberlain case (for those who don't know, spolier: the dingo dunnit).

    The media frenzy surrounding that one resonated for years; an impartial jury was practically impossible; the tabloids of the time screamed for Lindy to be locked up forver, despite circumstantial evidence that she didn't do it at the time. Later of course, the found the utterly damning evidence that it really was a dingo, and Lindy pretty much had her life ruined by media by then.

    As for the IT angle, who gives a rat's? If this site only talked about fascinating new ways of forming SQL statements, or the latest patch to SAP, I wouldn't read it!

  36. Ian

    There is a sequel

    Just ask OJ Simpson ..

  37. Spider

    Do we get what we deserve?

    The whole McGann saga is just another symptom of society. the fact the beckham/big brother/McGann scenario is massive news whilst wars, drought and ugly poor people are murdered in anonymity is a product of popularity vote now culture. As much as I dislike them that is what a majority of people want on their brain anaesthetiser. we can lament the lack of informed opinion, the lack of perspective but we will fall in the face of the hoards of ignorant consuming units.

    dystopia is already here. enjoy.

  38. Bugbear1973

    A week without the media

    This reminds me of an experience I had a couple of weeks ago. I was on a business trip interstate for a week. During that week I had zero time to read newspapers, listen to the radio or watch television. My time on the Internet was limited also.

    I came away from that week feeling oh so relaxed. You know, the world ain't half as bad as the media would profess.

  39. Dan


    how any comments criticising the mccanns were removed.

  40. Phil

    How to make news out of thin air

    Yesterday morning, according to the news sources I read, the Portugese police had their pajamas packed and were about to board a plane for England.

    According to the evening news, the judge saw no need to interview the McCanns again.

    hey presto, Two front page, top slots news stories out of nothing.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a new phenomenon..

    "If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed." -Mark Twain

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022