I was going to skip this one as too stupid even for my intrigue, but the combination of baseball, selfies, privacy, the generation gap, The Golden Rule, cultural rot…and those pictures above… is too much to resist.
In a now viral video clip, about a dozen comely members of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority attending the Arizona Diamondbacks-Colorado Rockies game this week were put on camera to serve as fodder for TV broadcasters Steve Berthiaume’s and Bob Brenly’s ridicule. The reason they were on camera is that it was an unusually attractive bevy of maidens, and that they were engaged in something that could best be called a selfie orgy. It went on and on as the announcers snickered, saying things like…
“Do you have to make faces when you take selfies?”
“Wait, one more now. Better angle. Oh, check it. Did that come out OK?”
“Here’s my first bite of the churro. Here’s my second bite of the churro.”
“That’s the best one of the 365 pictures I’ve taken of myself today!”
“Welcome to parenting in 2015!”
“Every girl in the picture is locked into her phone. Every single one is dialed in. They’re all just completely transfixed by the technology.
“‘Help us, please! Somebody help us!'”
As the internet weighed in, the girls found themselves being defended by most commentators, at least by most commentators under 40.
- As we have discussed here before and fairly recently, the practice of broadcasts picking people out of the stands at sporting events and lingering on them for any reason is ethically objectionable unless they are actively and knowingly inviting the attention or become part of the action, as when they try to catch a home run or a foul ball.
- It is especially objectionable when the purpose of the attention is to mock, ridicule and embarrass, as in this case.
- On the other hand, some kinds of behavior in public should be ridiculed, to establish societal standards and to convey useful messages to others, especially the young.
- Blatant narcissism like this is toxic conduct, societally undesirable, and a habit worth breaking as early as possible, if possible. Thus it can be argued that the announcers were engaged in responsible conduct, and even beneficial conduct. Narcissism and ethics are not compatible. Narcissists ought to know they are narcissists, so they can do something about it. They deserve to be and need to be exposed and criticized.
- On yet another hand, one of the joys of baseball is that you can watch the game and do many other things that you consider fun. The young women were having a good time. What business is it of the announcers what spectators enjoy doing at a game, if it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s experience? Does it make sense for employees of the ballclubs to point to a dozen students having fun at a baseball game and pronounce them fools because what they find entertaining isn’t what the announcers find entertaining?
- Ironically, that’s not exactly true, is it? The announcers were enjoying watching attractive young women, and the attractive young women were also enjoying watching attractive young women—themselves.
- Is it possible to unethically shame narcissists by putting them on television? I don’t think so.
- Several critics have noted that while this was going on, the announcers read a T-Mobile promo asking fans to tweet photos of themselves at ballgames. There is some hypocrisy there, no doubt about it.
- Other defenders of the selfie-happy students dismissed Berthiaume and Brenly as out-of-touch old fogies who just don’t get the current trends and practices of the young. Through the years, I’ve heard this argument made in defense of recreational drugs, underage drinking, promiscuous sex, open marriages, single motherhood, talking during movies, vulgar languge in the workplace and Twitter mobs. The question is whether the conduct being criticized is bad for society or not, not how many people are engaging in it and how young they are.
- Craig Calcattera, the NBC baseball blogger who is smarter than most, argued that the announcers’ disdain was unethical because T-Mobile sponsors broadcasts and thus pays their salaries with the money the company makes by encouraging the same conduct they were mocking. In essence, he is criticizing Berthiaume and Brenly for not allowing a potential conflict of interest to restrain their coverage of the game. Good for them: even though a selfie-pushing company sponsors the game broadcasts, they didn’t allow self-interest from pointing out the personality disorders and absurd behavior that the company’s marketing encourages.
- There is also a material difference between taking a selfie and becoming a selfie junkie, which is what these sorority sisters appear to be. Craig’s complaint is like saying that announcers of a foootball game sponsored by Budweiser shouldn’t mock a bunch of drunken fans who are vomiting on each other.
- This reflects my bias, I know, but any adverse exposure sororities and fraternities receive that speed the extinction of these vile and archaic campus organizations is good.
- The women who were highlighted by this episode have reacted with good cheer and no shame whatsoever. This means, I fear, that they are beyond hope.
Here is the clip: