Friday, April 04, 2008

As I pass 100,000 hits, I wonder: Have I been guilty of camel condescension?

As John Crace writes at the Guardian's Comment is Free:
You can always rely on Johnny foreigner to give us a good laugh. At least that's the only explanation for the fancy that! news story about Abu Dhabi holding a camel beauty contest making yesterday's BBC radio news bulletins and becoming the most emailed story on the BBC website. After all, it's not even as if it's a new story: this is the sixth year the camel pageant has been held in the United Arab Emirates, so you can only imagine that some half-witted editor must have decided we'd all had a bit of a foreign news overload with the Zimbabwe elections and could do with an effortless snigger of cultural superiority.

Now, I've no particular fondness for camels and the idea of holding a beauty contest for them strikes me as both absurd and obscene on many levels. But then I feel much the same way about dog shows - only you don't get the BBC taking the piss out of them. Quite the reverse, in fact. Every year the BBC devotes several hours of TV air time to the Kennel club's annual thrash and the Crufts supreme champion is invariably paraded on the news - with no hint of irony - as the last word in poochdom.

It would be bad enough if Crufts was just a Disneyfied anthropomorphic world of fluttering eyelashes and blow-dried fur. But it's much worse than that. It's a freak show. Years and years of abitrary aesthetics and pedigree dictats have turned many breeds into walking death zones. We Brits manage to be outraged by the treatment of battery hens that can barely walk and have severe health problems, yet we happily celebrate dogs that have been deliberately bred with similar characteristics. Some pedigrees have breathing and heart problems, others are prone to organ failure and all of them have a shorter life expectancy than your bog-standard mutt. [...]
I am reminded of an author who once described the Chihuahua as a "dinky cauldron of seething neurosis." That might also be a good description of the author of the excerpted article although it would be cruel and mental health-ist to say so. Have I been guilty of camel condescension? Not unless this counts. Crace would probably conclude that EOZ has been condescending about Camel beauty contests, but the post in question garnered an LGF-lanche. There's a lesson in there somewhere. Speaking of the 100,000 hits, thanks to everyone who stopped by to read or comment. Thanks also to supportive fellow bloggers.

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