Belfast Telegraph

It's time that we shouted 'cut' on the thoughtless reality show that passes for some people's lives

We live in a world where the idea of others having the right to be different has lost all its meaning, writes Gail Walker

We all assume that we're going forward, progressing on some kind of pre-ordained path, somehow "getting better", getting further away from our regressive, oppressive roots. We are freeing ourselves from restrictive shibboleths.

But it's all a lie. We're not going forward. On the contrary, we're heading backwards - at an incredible rate of knots.

Just look at that photograph of newly-married Matthew Lunn and his bride Carly, simulating a sex act after their wedding at the world-famous St Paul's Monastery in Rhodes.

Near the harbour, the bride knelt in front of her husband while he had his trousers and underpants down round his ankles.


It was, the couple maintain, a long-planned photograph to show their "unique" sense of humour.

This "I'm crazy, me" attitude leads bullies, abusers, stalkers, simply offensive people - yes, there is such a thing - to believe they've been given a license to mar everyone else's holiday, memories, childhood and life because they reckon they are hilarious jokers and has been rampant in Britain and Ireland for several decades.

Social media has just provided a platform for these morons to parade their "unique humour" among their 28 followers and, from there, to scandalise thousands.

There was a time when we all might otherwise have lived our lives happily oblivious to the fact that Ted and Alice, or whoever they are, even existed.

Not any more.

The photo of Matthew and Carly - taken by a member of the family (yes, really) - was posted on Facebook and went viral until it came to the attention of the island's religious authorities who - stick-in-the-mud fuddy-duddies that they are - didn't see the funny side of having their hospitality abused and promptly banned all weddings at St Paul's, forcing hundreds of British couples to cancel their dream nuptials.

What on earth were the Lunns thinking? The family gathered round 30 or 40 years hence, looking at the old family album, granddad pointing to one photo and saying: "And there's yer gran performing a - simulated, mind - sex act on me. Grand days, they were ..."

One of the most disturbing aspects of this story has been the media focus on the cancelled weddings, the upset of people who have already spent thousands in preparation for their big day. Naturally, many are angry and threatening to sue the Lunns.

But, grim as that may be, there has been little about the out-and-out affront to the beliefs and traditions of their Greek hosts.

The Lunns were not just guilty of some lapse in taste, but actively abused a site regarded as sacred by those who live there.

The Lunns, of course, don't see it like that. Matthew protested: "It's been blown out of proportion. We were just pretending and having a laugh. The Greeks have completely over-reacted. We don't think we did anything wrong, but we regret it and wish we hadn't bothered. The ban's madness. This has caused us all sorts of hassle."

Does that seem like true sorrow and repentance to you? Nope. Quite the contrary, in fact.

And note the whine of self-pity and complaint. It's not their fault, it's all the fault of those touchy "Greeks" who are ungrateful for the display of the Lunns' "unique" sense of humour. No wonder they wish they hadn't bothered.

At the heart of the Lunns' head-in-the-sand attitude is selfishness. It is all about the "hassle" this has caused them. The only thing that exists in their world is them: their wants, their beliefs (or lack thereof), their desires. The idea of a world that doesn't correspond to their own world view simply never occurs to them.

They went to a foreign country, didn't bother to try and understand local beliefs, or that they were being married on a site of a church.

What do they think a church is? Even if you don't believe in a particular faith, or in God at all, most people know that a church, a temple, a mosque, a synagogue means something to others (or else why does it exist in the first place?) and treat it with respect.

Why pick a church anyway? Anyone with a scintilla of religious feeling would not be inclined to abuse a church site.

Why not just simulate a sex act outside the local registry office back home? I can imagine why they wouldn't try that one on.

Nope, not for the Lunns of this world: they'd paid their money to these foreign types, they were on holiday, so on with the simulated sex show.

The church, the "Greeks" themselves, were little more than props in the Lunns' endless ME reality show.

One could even talk about a kind of cultural imperialism in their attitude, but that's to give it too much dignity. One could talk, too, about how the Lunns have so little self-respect, but that's a long lost cause now in our culture.

Of course, it's not just abroad where these attitudes are on display. Walk outside your own door. Rudeness. Public swearing. Pushing and shoving. In-your-face aggression. Road rage.

Increasingly, we live in an age where people have lost all sense of others - or the possibility that they might, you know, be different.

A man urinating on the street? What's it got to do with you? Don't like my all-night party? What's it got to do with you? Don't like me and the wife brawling on the street like cage fighters? What's it got to do with you? Don't like my attitude? I'm keepin' it real ...

The yahoos are ignorant - not just in regard to our abstract rights, but almost to our very existence. Or, rather, that we are just as "real" as they are.

It is almost as if some are living their own TV reality show and the rest of us are nothing but walk-ons, extras, there merely to provide a line of exposition, to move the plot on an inch or two. Here's me doing this, here's me doing that.

And if anyone objects, or is hurt, in that unfurling of their endless fascinating selves? "Only having a laugh." "You're over-reacting." "You've no sense of humour." Or, as a last - or first - resort, "F*** off!"

But we - the others - do exist. So, well done the Bishop of Rhodes, well done the Greeks. They are defending decency, respect and manners - and at not inconsiderable cost to themselves.

At some point, someone has to shout "Cut!" on some people's grubby little reality shows.

Belfast Telegraph


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