Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Andy Gray is a stupid twat. I've tried to be clever and erudite about it and conjure up some great witticism but I think that says it as best it can be. Even Oscar Wilde would most likely say some thing along those lines. Of course it means I've shown my hand at the start of the article but its clearly not something one can defend, even though some have tried.
Perhaps one can have sympathy for Mr Gray, coming from a different time and not fully in touch with how the modern world works. Although he was born after the Suffragettes so should have some vague notion of equal rights for women. As a presenter on TV he should be up to speed with what his viewers think.
Given that he's a football pundit he might actually be fully in line with the thought of those watching him. Its not exactly the most welcoming world for an outsider to enter. Football is after all the sport were the president, Sepp Blatter has said that female players should were skimpy outfits when they play. Racism, violence and homophobia are still rampant so it should not come as a shock that sexism is part of it as well. As much as I love football its these sort of things that stop me going to games, along with the cost and the constant risk of being upset at seeing your team lose.
Football and some men in general have an obsession with "banter". Banter is a sort of teasing and I think most people have participated and enjoyed some good times with friends while engaged in said concept. But it should remain light hearted and gentle, its supposed to be warm and friendly, a way for people to bond. Once you start to throw in more serious topics or be potentially offensive then its not longer banter. To often the term is used as an excuse to allow people to say what they want. "Just a bit of banter", "can't you take a joke?". But why should the blame be shifted to the person who is the victim of the abuse? After all Sian Massey, the woman being talked about, has pulled out of the next game she was going to take part in. These comments are already affecting her life, is that fair?
Football has been guilty of the banter defense to an extraordinary degree. That's why you have people making jokes about the Hillsborough and Munich disasters or the holocaust or sending bullets through the post or standing outside Wayne Rooney's house threatening to kill him if he leaves. Just a bit of banter, all part of the game.
Some will argue that what is said in a private conversation should remain as such and not be held against people. I agree with this, as long as your in private or are not in the public eye. We have all said things among friends we would not want repeated to outsiders, especially when taken out of context. But the work place is not your private space, if I go up to some one at work and say "I hate the Jews" then I would most likely face a talking to from the boss. People should be able to go to work with out fear of being the subject of such abuse. Andy Gray was sacked because he had also made remarks to a female co worker. If any of us had done something similar we would face disciplinary action of some thought. Those in the public eye make a living in part based upon our perception of them.
Whats really sad is that there is still people who have reacted to this by blaming it all on the PC brigade and feminists as if there is some kind of hidden agenda being pursued. If there is such a such a secret plan in action them I'm not sure how the removal of Andy Gray will usher in a world run be women. I've never understood how people can see feminists as a radical group or something to criticise. We don't think of the civil rights people as mad extremists, Martin Luther King is respected as a great person with a noble cause. Why not give the same respect to feminists?
Here in lies a problem, the rights of people based on skin colour is of more value than that based on gender. Society and indeed football has done a good job of tackling racism, no doubt it still exists but one can't deny the strides being taking. But sexism has never been given the same serious platform, its still a big issue epically in the world of sport. If you have a person saying that black people should have anything to do with football then I don't think anyone would defend it at all but for some its a valid point to say it about women. If its wrong to exclude people based on skin colour then how is it right to do based on gender?
Now even if we accept that its just a bit of banter and not a serious issue at all there is one key thing that's being over looked by those who defend him. There is a very strong chance that what Andy Gray said could alienate potential viewers and stop them watching the programme. From a business point of view it makes no sense for SKY to have a presenter of a show thinks women should not be watching it. This one reason is enough to cost him his job regardless of of anything else. Its all about the ratings.
Three of the most important women in my life pledge support to a football team and I know many more who are equally attached to the game. Its really beyond all logical belief that this is somehow wrong. Are we supposed to tell all young girls that they can't like football because they wouldn't understand it and when they ask why we simply reply "well because you're a girl".
Of course I have no doubt that Andy Gray has been the victim of a witch hunt and some one on the inside has set him up for a fall, this could not of come to light or been built up to such a story other wise. But he still said those things, which one can't defend. If he didn't say them he'd still have a job. Ultimitly it looks like his decisions to take the News of the World to court has come back to bite him, like Rupert Murdoch would let that go.
So Mr Gray is stupid on two counts, being sexist and taking legal action against his boss.