There are no end of things in our modern world about which we should get upset. Starvation, homelessness, poverty, the mistreatment of women, children and the elderly, war, terrorism and that new series of the Muppets for which there is just NO excuse. However in Denmark just recently there’s been a slight outbreak of professional outrage over perhaps the most inconsequential of occurrences; Wayne Rooney saying something stupid.
• Man Utd’s Mr. Potato Head speaks
• Anders Lindegaard “annoying”
• Danes take professional offense
It is fortunate that George Orwell was wrong. In his famed book 1984 the authorities used a mass information exchange to monitor the people as they went about their daily lives, but when a tool arrived that could have facilitated that, the internet, almost precisely the opposite happened and we all got to pay very close attention to every little facet of our political masters. There’s millions of us watching them, their intelligence agencies just can’t compete however much the NSA pretend otherwise.
Edward Snowden’s huge public leaking of documents, taken at face value, showed the degree to which the internet can hold people in power to account, news of their every error, every mistake, flashes around the world instantly, typically with sound and footage, making it far easier to lose one’s political shirt than it used to be in the days of newsreels and deferential journalism. However whilst this has been great for Democracy, it has brought with it the spectre of professional outrage at mere trifles.
Anyone with a public visibility these days is gambling news coverage won’t be of their doom. One silly statement and it’ll be on Youtube in mere moments, discussed minutes later and before you know it there’s someone somewhere launching a professional outrage campaign to have you pilloried for having dared to express a view that is deemed outside the acceptable. The traditional press love this because the sensationalism of people getting their feelings hurt helps them compete across this new medium.
The Rise Of The Internet & Professional Outrage
Tabloid desperation stokes this professional outrage at every turn as those that believe they’re oh-so-much better than everyone else clutch at their pearl necklaces in horror because of some ridiculous non-story cooked up by an editor only interested in circulation. How often have we seen people forced into an apology for saying or doing something that really has no intrinsic value or importance? Politicians, pop singers, and even sports stars quickly back pedaling on their statements upon demand.
Now obviously if people have said something truly offensive and hurtful or damaging they should rightfully be challenged on it, but these days its often people wholly unaffected by what has happened that make all the fuss. This is most noticeable in television where the FCC and similar authorities hold everyone to the standards acceptable to a fundamentalist Christian delusionist from the 1950s because in these days of professional outrage no one can simply turn the TV over or off if they don’t like it.
In the UK Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle might be wholly outrageous on stage but you can tell they’ve had to tone it down for television lest someone somewhere gets offended and calls for them to be burnt at the stake. In the US Bill Maher is still politically incorrect on his show Real Time and repeatedly the good people at Fox News have taken exception to a joke he’s made, twisting it in their presentation to make out he’s racist, sexist or some sort of pinko commie. And if you’re Danish gambling laws of common sense would keep that away from your press, think again.
Professional Outrage Dogs Rooney
Wayne Rooney, a Mr Potato Head that also plays football in the English Premier League, was asked by a bored journalist (all journalists are bored all the time, it’s how they justify writing lies and destroying people’s lives for their own fun, amusement and profit) which of his teammates he’d least like to be stuck in a lift with. If they’d asked anyone else I suspect the answer would have been Wayne Rooney but since he has to live with his ugly mug he said “Anders Lindegaard. He’s just annoying.”
At which point the Danish press went mad. Apparently the former reserve keeper (who has now moved on to West Brom from Manchester United) being called “annoying” by Wayne Rooney (Aww what’s up Wayne, did he keep staring at the carpet on your head?) is a national insult, some of the more emotional articles seeming to replicate Vladimir Putin’s mood after the Turks shot down one of his SU-24s. This was professional outrage at its most literal, and most pathetic.
Nothing that Wayne Rooney says will ever be important, nor will whatever Britney Spears or Tyson Fury say next. What? The heavyweight champion of the world isn’t all that bright and says dumb stuff sometimes? Gosh. Amazing. Did you know snow is cold and wet? The internet has brought us many things but the professional outrage brigade are one of it’s unintended consequences, although, in this case, you’d have to be a pretty thin skinned person to bet on sports in Denmark at ComeOn! Sportsbook or some other free gambling sites and take offense at a fellow countryman being called annoying by someone as manifestly moronic as Wayne “Duuuurrrr gee George….” Rooney.