Thursday, 24 April 2008

The Human Spider...

....just reminds me of the hairdresser off the salon who went on to be in the Tresemme adverts.

It's hard to take this seriously.

Strictly Baby Ballroom

I was watching This Morning one morning (incidentally, not this one) when the second-class Paul Ross was discussing this week's television. In between recommendations of every ITV programme that was one he mentioning this evening's 'Cutting Edge' documentary on Channel 4. They've been advertising it a fair bit and I wasn't really sure what to make it. On 'This Morning' Fern was quite vocal about how appalling she found it, ready to boycott it and tell a nation that adores her to do the same.

I have to say, within the first few frames I was shocked. It wasn't just the kids fighting, it was the parents. within the first few minutes there was a young girl crying and crying; whether it was because she hated fighting or because she was losing remained to be seen. Allegedly, she still wanted to fight. In a talking head situation the father said he offered her ballet dancing or disco dancing lessons instead. I wonder, if he did really offer these things she might have refused on the grounds that she'd probably never heard of 'disco dancing' anyway.

It soon took the focus off the one girl and gave all its attention to three fighting champs: Thai, named after the sport by his psycho parents, Connor whose 10-year old voice had a creepily strong East London accent which frightens my Middle Class self to the core because it screams: VIOLENCE! GANGS! DRUGS! Of course, violence was exactly it, he talked about he fights all the time, how he loves to fight and his mother would intentionally get him worked up to fight by saying certain kids had called him names behind his back. She told the camera this, cackling evilly, happy that she's very likely to be bringing up a sociopath.

Of course, this documentary did nothing but present the situation, 10-years olds fighting in rings, sometimes in cages, working out constantly and having their parents shouting, yelling at them to fight properly, do a fake kick, throw him etc etc. They would get extremely angry, there would be pressure on them if they weren't performing between rounds. They presented it purely at face value, yet, this week boxing happened to be given an incredibly positive approach in the London news this week.

Frank Bruno has opened up the first boxing academy, designed to give kids who leave school at 16 a fighting (ba dum bum) chance at getting more out of their adult life. It showed Bruno's dedication to getting kids doing something positive with their lives and the kids getting so much out of it. Fighting in that way, it is argued, promotes discipline, motivation and gets them working towards something that they truly care about.

The question is, how beneficial is hardcore fighting to young children, how much does it really teach them if they are being groomed into thinking, living and being Thai Boxing. Kids should be out and about they should be playing and enjoying different activities. They should be learning and developing through communication with other kids not squaring up to them with hundreds of people screaming around them, being forced to throw punches and kicks.

It was disturbing, and I do believe it was not unbalanced, because there were moments when the kids were sensitive about their fighting careers, but there too were those points where they would talk at length about the money they were to make. Little Connor in his flat cap and earring talking about his Bentley's and his 10 million pound house. Wearing a hat so symbolic of an older man was a signifier into what his parents and coaches had created. He thinks he's bigger than he is, he thinks he's indestructible when he deserves to be a 10-year old. It didn't go into details of whether these kids get into fights at school, whether they're disruptive in the classroom and are just waiting to get out. It's very possible that's not the case, that they have learned discipline and respect but I do think that so much, so you could be massive detrimental to their development.