TV is “distressing” - do we need shielding from everything?

It’s not safe to watch TV. “Viewers are warned that this report/this programme contains scenes viewers may find distressing,” is an announcement we hear every day.

The news, soap-operas, dramas and documentaries all carry the familiar ‘health’ warnings. Talk about a namby-pamby, risk-averse society! Why do people need shielding from every harsh reality? Anyway, I’ve seen lots of sad things but I haven’t seen anything unusually “distressing.” Maybe it’s a man thing.

A young chap I know told me his girlfriend asked him if he’d take her to a slushy romantic film. She said a friend’s boyfriend had taken her to see one. “Would you do something like that for me,” she asked? “Aye – well, I might,” he replied, “provided there’s a good bit of sex and violence in it”!

OK I’m only recalling that story out of a silly sense of male bravado. Well, that and the fact that it was quite amusing.

The idea of protecting people from everything unpleasant also reminds me of Louis MacNeice’s poem, “Prayer before birth”:

“I am not yet born; O hear me. / Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the / club footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me. / I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me, / with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me, / on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.”

It’s a long poem but you’ll have got the idea.