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Not just a harmless bit of fun, Andrew Lawn laments the big screen's hideous 'kiss cam' as half-time 'entertainment' and asks what message are we sending here?
In the middle of a thrilling game of football, Tuesday's half-time 'entertainment', left me cold.
Taking the Valentines Day theme and running with it so far they were almost at Easter, the club instigated a US style "kiss cam" on the big screen, I assume with the well intentioned idea of spreading some romance.
This 'kiss cam' sought out male and female fans, who happened to be sitting next to each other at half-time of the football and broadcast their surprised faces on the big screen. Once displayed, the stadium announcer, used his microphone to implore the couple to kiss in front of 25,000 watching strangers.
When I first noticed what was going on, my first thought was; "I wonder how they found couples to volunteer for that before the game and then manage to pick them out of the crowd again at half-time?"
At that point the announcer bellowed into his microphone; "Come on kiss. We'll leave the camera on you until you do. Come on..." and I realised these people hadn't consented at all.
Instead, they were now being put in a position where a man with a microphone was demanding they kiss, something they were clearly uncomfortable doing in front of thousands, or else continue to have their discomfort broadcast.
I pointed out how inappropriate I thought that was to the people around me (and on Twitter). In response I received a few nods, a chuckle and the answer "it's just a bit of fun".
Then the teams re-emerged and I got sucked back into an excellent game of football, so it wasn't until later that it really dawned on me just how awful the 'kiss cam' had been.
The first thing that stuck in my mind was the "bit of fun" remark. Is it really? Who's having that fun? The uncomfortable couples clearly weren't. The crowd then? Am I really to believe that football fans are the kind of people to enjoy people forced to kiss one another? Some do maybe, but not the majority.
Then there is the issue of consent. If your teenage son or daughter came home and said their partner was pressuring them to kiss when they weren't ready, would you tell them "it's just a bit of fun"?
The Crown Prosecution Service define consent as; "only if they agree by choice and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice". I'm not sure being told to kiss or have your uncomfortable face continue to be broadcast on a giant screen to 25,000 people counts as having the freedom and capacity to make a choice. What message does that then send to the crowd, particularly children? It's ok to pressure people into doing stuff as long as everyone else is enjoying it or for the entertainment of others?
The randomness of selection raised further questions, for example how did the cameraman responsible for finding prospective couples know that they were couples? The club appeared to make the assumption that any male and female sitting next to each other was a couple, disregarding all same sex couples at a stroke. I spoke to Di Cunningham from Proud Canaries after the game and while she hadn't been at the game to see it told me; "Proud Canaries is working with the club who have done much to correct the assumption that no one in the stadium is LGBT. Who is anyone to presume who is in a couple?"
Furthermore, around my seat at the back of Block D of the Barclay Lower there are at least one brother and sister, plus at least a couple of women who attend the game with male friends. What would they have done had they found themselves on camera, being urged to kiss for the masses? Again I go back to Di, who is anyone to presume who is and who isn't a couple?
In the States, they are beginning to move away from the 'traditional' kiss cam, with a new NFL initiative called 'Love has no labels', which a twist on the traditional kiss cam by replacing it with an unbiased camera that features all forms of love, including; friendships, families and romantic relationships across race, religion, gender, sexuality, ability and age. The same would have been good here.
Not turning and showing the Barclay Jonny Howson's thunderbastard volley was a low point for the big screen, but on Tuesday it sank to new depths.
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