I’ve been buying the Guardian a few more times a week than normal recently. Partly for the gorgeous vista shots of cricket and cycling, both sports that give far better opportunity for natural photographs than football and only really get a look-in when the big white ball (why am I complaining?) is simmering away in the background. There’s other advantages, too, the main one being the opinion pieces in there – not always to agree with, but that’s the nature of life.
Today we have Marina Hyde talking about the scourge of Wimbledon and modern television, the montage sequence. Its probably worth reading that as a primer for this – you can find it here, and its well worth a read (she’s bang on about Laura Robson being set to ‘You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful’, incidentally).
I noticed watching Andy Murray the other day that we get montages at every opportunity (it was either a change of ends, or an end of set), and thought it felt a little bit like the BBC posting their holiday photos on Facebook.
“Look, everyone! We took these atmospheric and lovely videos just recently! Look at them! Press the ‘Like’ button on your television! Retweet them with the hashtag #WorthTheLicenceFee”
I used to be fairly neutral towards such things – it was always nice to hear Hoppipolla and I’m sure Badly Drawn Boy has made a fair bit out of featuring in things – but my football watching has long broken any desire to see slow-motion footage of people with emotional facial expressions slowly mouthing the words “Come on!” after putting the ball out for a corner or surreptitiously spitting as they get into position to defend said set-piece.
Firstly, I don’t understand why the montages are shown. I understand instant replays, and the fact they used to be reverse-angle replays so the television viewer might get a better understanding of what they’ve just seen but from a different perspective – and the replays still serve that purpose, even if (I’m looking at you, Sky Cricket) they are used a little too readily to prove a commentator’s point.
Can I take a brief moment to say I like the Americanism ‘colour man’ for the co-commentator, as that’s exactly what they’re doing – providing colour to the dreary name-name-description of the regular commentator.
What aspect of televising sport suggests to directors that just because there’s a lull in the excitement (maybe a goal kick being taken – how often do you see them?) we ought to see detailed footage of something that isn’t really anything at all to do with the game?
But then, why shouldn’t they?
When Usain Bolt won at the London Olympics, he spent some time carousing with the crowd, who were holding up phones, cameras and iPads. Other than general cynicism of the iPad users being in the rich seats, my over-riding feeling was exactly that of standing in line under the London Eye.
Who is EVER going to look at these photographs?
And then I realised. Nobody is. They’re going to be posted online, or put in albums, and the picture takers will show them, and people will give a cursory glance, and they’ll be ignored.
We live in a world of that.
We live in a world wherein a load of people share things but see it going ignored because people are too busy sharing their own things to pay attention to the things other people are sharing. In a world where everybody is the artist, nobody needs to buy the paintings.
When was the last time you looked through a photo album on Facebook? Were you a chap looking through because you quite fancy whosever photos they were? Were you genuinely interested in some distant family member’s holiday? Was every photograph of interest?
I just don’t think it is. Photographs are moments in time from people’s lives. Only if the person, or the moment, is of interest to you will the photograph be.
I’m doing it right now. I know people who might enjoy this will simple ignore it because something they’ve done themselves – a photograph of a ladybird or something – is more important to them to share than taking the time to read it. I’ve done it myself countless times. It’s a selfishness thing that, having come to terms with, I’m trying to do less and less often.
I’ve loved certain galleries I’ve seen on Facebook; not specifically holiday photos, but photos of people I haven’t seen in a while doing things that they enjoy; who wouldn’t take pleasure in seeing their loved ones being happy? But equally, I’ve seen some galleries that I question the posting of.
It’s what the montages seem to be, to me. Television companies sharing ‘the best’ of themselves to impress other people, rather than showing the reality which is, perhaps slightly less photogenic or exciting to maintain their viewers. Except that isn’t the point of broadcasting sport, is it? It isn’t for the aesthetic effect, its for the competition intrinsic to it.
It has become that self-same Facebook reality; only displaying a partial reality to gloss over the mundanity of reality – an anti-Reggie Perrin view of the world.
Its something I’ve become more and more aware of, and I’ve tried to cut down on the amount that I share in order to enjoy things that other people share with me, thinking I’d enjoy it. Oftentimes, I do, and am finding that now. If you find Tweets favourited, its so I can read back later.
I’m trying to write fewer blog posts recently, too; one every week or so, maybe less. I’ve got a few ideas I’m knocking around for things (and I might work through one about Yorkshire’s lower order over the weekend) but I don’t want to write for the sake of it. I want to write when inspired to do so, and I try and keep around 1,000 words (this is 956 now-i). I don’t want to write many things that will be ignored, I’d rather write fewer and know that people have appreciated them.
It’s a discipline we internet users seem to let by the by. Quantity often trumps quality, which is the wrong way of going about things. One well written book is far more pleasurable than a hundred poor ones. In this new way of using the internet, too many people think their views (either literal or metaphorical) are worth sharing.
The quest for newness, for everybody’s opinion to matter means that the fewer things that do matter are being diluted in favour of those that don’t. I’m trying to take a step back and appreciate the better things; and I’m getting far more out of it than I used to.
There’s some wonderful people using the internet, both well-known and unknown, and I’m beginning to appreciate that all the more; not by looking at montages of their best bits, but by watching the whole match.
The greatest gift we have as humans over the other creatures is the gift of communication; that ability to pass ideas on to other members of our species, conveying complex thoughts and sentiments.
It is not only what separates from the animals, it is what allows understanding our separation from the animals. Communication is a two-way concept. In order to function properly, it needs to be both transmission and reception. Ignore either (ii) and you’re not playing the game, you’re not fulfilling your brief as a human.
I’ll leave you with the last line of The End, by the Beatles. I’m sure someone else will have shared it with you at some point.
“In the end the love you make is equal to the love you take”.
i I looked back and amended certain bits, so don’t count.
ii And I’m not sure its possible to ignore the former, as the act of ignoring it is a communication in and of itself.