Another day, another Daily Mail attack on the BBC. This time it is for encouraging youngsters to drink ethanol: ‘Six pupils rushed to hospital after copying scene of schoolchildren drinking deadly ethanol on BBC’s Waterloo Road‘. First things first. this is a Daily Mail article, so lets tackle the scare-mongering exaggeration of the article: although three ambulances and a rapid response unit were sent to the school to take the children to hospital they weren’t exactly on the brink of death. The school was alerted to the situation when the students confessed drinking the liquid to a teacher, it wasn’t because any of them lay comatose on the floor or were vomiting profusely. After a blood test at the hospital they were allowed to go home – hardly the situation you’d expect reading the Daily Mail headline.
Secondly, the whole point of the Waterloo episode was to show the inherent dangers of drinking ethanol, the programme clearly showed the consequences. It wasn’t as if the BBC screened Waterloo Road in order to promote the drinking of ethanol in schools. Anyone who watched the episode would probably arrive at the conclusion that any 14 or 15 year old who thought that drinking ethanol was a good idea must be beyond stupid.
Naturally, Daily Mail parents’ brains are wired up rather differently to always apportion blame on something other than some young people being utterly thick:
A parent living near the school, who declined to be named, said: ‘I was watching the programme and I thought someone would copy it’.
‘It never should have been screened because children are very impressionable’.
Am I mistaken in thinking that if ‘children’ (although these students were 14 and 15 years old) really were that impressionable then every single one of them that watched the programme should have been downing ethanol during science lessons yesterday? The sad truth is that no matter how outraged parents (if they really exist in this instance, the reporter could just be making them up) and other utter morons like Vivienne Pattison (who the Mail quote, but couldn’t even spell her name right) who is the director of the ‘Watchdog’ MediaWatchUK – a barmy organisation that seems intent on blaming everything that they feel is wrong with the world on TV, computer games and the Internet. Vivienne had this to say on the matter:
it was worrying events on screen had translated to real life in such a shocking way. She said: ‘People say television does not have any effect on real life and then something like this happens. ‘Broadcasters keep saying viewers can tell the difference between TV and reality but this shows this is clearly not the case. ‘They need to know that what they put out does have an effect, especially on young minds.’
Funnily enough the Daily Mail’s misleading and biased interpretation of the events is linked to by MediaWatchUK, who seem to only think that ‘media’ covers the TV, computer games and the Internet. They seem to blame modern media formats whilst using print news sources such as the Daily Mail of bastions of accuracy and decency – that to me says everything you need to know about this ‘watchdog’. Vivienne is the kind of rent-a-quote that will always turn up on this sort of story: ‘think of the children’ they will wail, as if they are brainless sponges soaking up everything that they see. Funnily enough, when children are described as ‘feral’ by the Daily Mail we don’t see the same guilt-ridden hand-wringing about their behaviour being our fault. No, then children are perfectly in control of their behaviour and our evil etc, not that they are poor defenseless souls being corrupted by TV and the Internet.
Like most ‘news’ content served up by the Mail Online this story is an absolute joke. Some stupid kids copied a programme even though they knew what the consequences would be, and the Mail uses this as a pathetic attempt to attack the BBC. The most amusing thing about the whole episode is that the comments are making it perfectly clear that the Mail has approached this story in exactly the wrong way, and the Daily Mail website seems to have suddenly become a hotbed for ‘loony-left BBC values’. For example, look at the bottom-rated comments:
The BBC seems to be getting a lot of support by people who realise that the kids have themselves to blame. On the other hand, check out the highest-rated comments:
I have never seen such sense in the comments section. Perhaps people are starting to get fed up at such piss-poor attacks on the BBC.
Update: I have changed the word ‘methanol’ to ‘ethanol’. Thanks to the person who pointed this out in the comments.
Update 2: I’ve also changes the second ‘methanol’ to ‘ethanol’ and I must try and proofread in future.