One of my photos

Crawley is well and truly on the map now.

August 2nd, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 4 Comments · Life

That video of the young girls flying off a roundabout in the playground at Tilgate has put Crawley well in the public eye, both here and abroad. The town already has a bit of a reputation as a ‘chav town‘ and this will do nothing to help.

The original video had something like 2 million views on YouTube before being removed by the original poster at the request of the police – a futile gesture: I think we all know that is like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Others had already made copies and posted them on YouTube, where you can also find a hip-hop remix and coverage of the story on TV. Several other websites will have their own copies online too. You only have to go to YouTube and search for “crawley” to find a wide choice.

The most important thing is that, apparently, the girls involved are unharmed, contrary to all the laws of chance and physics. I do think they were stupid and wreckless, but I’m glad they are alive.

Both local papers had this on the front page, and it has also appeared on the local BBC news, on ITV News and everywhere else.

The remarks from the local police, the local council and various child protection agencies were predictable and the coverage on the TV was predictably stupid.

For example, the ITV story starts like this:

“A police enquiry has begun after pictures of a teenage prank which went horribly wrong appeared on a website.”

Immediately the tone is set that the real problem is the Internet, the whole emphasis is on the fact that the video appeared on a website rather than the fact that the youngsters were doing something incredibly dangerous in the first place. Lets face it, if they hadn’t done it there would have been nothing to film and nothing for millions of people to watch.

All through the piece you feel that everyone is concentrating more on how to regulate the Internet instead of asking questions about why this happened in the first place and what a motorbike was doing in kiddie’s playground. I would rather have police resources devoted to patrols which might prevent the behaviour than to policing websites which carry pictures after the act.

One reason why the website is considered so bad is that other youngsters might see it and try the same thing themselves. If that is a valid argument, and I’m not saying it isn’t, you have to ask why ITV felt it should show the whole thing (twice) to those few kids who might have missed it online.

The BBC were a bit different. They started their story by showing the video in its entirety, with freeze frames and slo-mo replays, before telling us that “now some are calling for sites like these to be more closely monitored.”

Wouldn’t it be more productive if the youngsters were more closely monitored instead? Or at least provided with more opportunities for activities of a safer nature.

Yet again the Internet is tagged as a source of evil rather than as a conduit – just like any other medium – in a typical knee-jerk reaction.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Richard W. Symonds

    We are witnessing a massive attempt by the powers-that-be to control the internet (eg Murdoch). The net has simply become too much of a threat because of its massive democratizing and educative value.

    First it was the printing press which needed to be controlled, then Radio, then TV…and now the Internet.

    We have to fight this or blogs like this will simply not be in the future…

  • Danivon

    Fantastic. The TV is saying that people want to restrict the internet because it shows stuff like this. And then showing it. Not that the TV news companies have any reason to worry about the possibility that the internet might make news bulletins redundant (not to mention reporters who pop down to Crawley, do a 5 minute piece and then drive off again).

    I can’t believe anyone would watch that video and think ‘That looks like a good idea, I’ll try that myself’. Even 12 year olds.

  • BobbyGee1

    This makes me laugh. When my parents were kids they got up to things as bad or worse than this – according to my dad. The difference? No one had phone cameras to show the rest of the world what they were doing. Kids are kids. Leave them alone and let them get on with it. For God’s sake, no one’s allowed to be spontanious any more – everything has to be cleared through health and safety.

  • Skuds

    The irony of TV news showing a film in a story about how awful it is that the film can be seen was not lost on me!

    And BobbyGee is right. I may well be old enough to be his parent and I know I used to do some amazingly stupid things. However, I know that my own parents and teachers, not to mention the police would have tried to stop us if they knew, so I have a clear conscience about not wanting my kids to do things which I did.

    At the time it seemed OK to climb out of upstairs windows of the school at night, go along ledges and roofs to the caretaker’s yard then climb to the top of the water tower and dance around for a laugh… only with hindsight do I realise it was a bit wreckless.

    It is the job of parents and those in loco parensis to protect children using their greater common sense. The irony is that part of that common sense is learned through getting away with doing stuff you shouldn’t.