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Chilean miners hit gold for the media

33 men trapped for 69 days, freed from their underground tomb by an amazing technological feat, courage and hope. Almost sounds like a movie script doesn’t it?

33 men trapped for 69 days, freed from their underground tomb by an amazing technological feat, courage and hope. Almost sounds like a movie script doesn’t it? Well if Madonna or Angelina Jolie get their way, the story of the Chilean Miners’ burial, and subsequent resurfacing as ‘heroes’ could be hitting a cinema screen near you in the future.

Newspapers reported last week that the A-list celebs are both fighting for the rights to direct next year’s Hollywood blockbuster. One source even reported that the film would be an excellent opportunity for the leading ladies; as the film ‘would establish either of them as a respected movie director’. This film could become a touching dedication to the miners and their families, and yet my cynicism tells me otherwise. I mean, I don’t really think Madge is the right person to direct a film based on a Chilean catastrophe. Although at any rate, it will be a perfect place to promote another ‘Greatest Hits’ album. There would always be the opportunity to add an extra slice of drama by incorporating a heart-wrenching rendition of ‘Ray of Light’ as the miners slowly come to the surface.  But seriously, at what point does it become okay for a natural disaster, a man-made catastrophe, or indeed a terrorist attack to become the next movie to hit the big screen?

The media’s surge on the Chilean Miners’ rescue operation did captivate the world, and Channel 4’s documentary; ‘Buried Alive’, broadcast just six days after their rescue, is another example of the frequently intrusive documentary style. The programme even began with the touching introduction to human suffering; ‘as the world held its breath, Channel 4 was there’. In the programme’s search for dramatic footage it invaded the lives of traumatised families, and even featured relatives reading out personal letters from their loved ones. I’m sure the brother of one of the miners really enjoyed the ‘Jeremy Kyle style’ reveal of his sibling’s potential last words; ‘This hell is killing me’. The documentary seemed to exploit the present public interest and transformed into a melodramatic short film full of one liner’s. I could almost hear the popcorn rustling.

Now I’m not saying that the media doesn’t have the right to detail global news or reveal the gloomy reality of actual devastation. However, I do question the way in which the media invades the lives of suffering victims in order to enhance viewing figures. Is the objectivity of news reporting lost in the desire to pull in audiences and widen profit margins?

As for their terrifying ordeal the miners were given branded consolation prizes. Since their escape each miner has been awarded an iPod, a year’s worth supply of free sushi from a chain in Santiago, and the chance to visit Manchester United and Real Madrid. Thanks to the media, the miners have become celebrities in themselves, and I’m positive that the merchandise being awarded will really help them in their psychological counselling. It appears that society is sacrificing human identity at the expense of wide-reaching advertising.

Personally, I think it’s quite sad that in our society a person can be used as a giant billboard. Yes, in theory I wouldn’t mind be showered in gifts simply for telling a story. Yes, I will admit that money does bring certain opportunities. And yes, even I wouldn’t mind being supplied with a year’s worth of free sushi, as long as there wasn’t any Wasabi sauce. However, I’m not sure that selling yourself, your story or your relatives is really worth the price tag.

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