Thursday, 8 September 2011

USO: On moral superiority, double-standards and ideological dislike

So when Caro gives a presser with a giant inflatable kangaroo or gate-crashes Novak’s presser, she’s a snivelling attention seeker. But when Petko boogie-woogies after her wins (in some cases over an injured opponent) or hosts those utterly try-hard spoof reporter skits, that’s her “being herself”, “entertaining”,  a refreshing instance of “personality”. Got it.

Leaving aside the question of Caro’s latest little ill-judged PR disaster (and it was a disaster) or which of the two works the media better (I think we’re all agreed Petko’s more comfortable in her skin), there’s a wider question of double standards here that’s, frankly, beginning to grate.

Let’s stop pretending for a moment: both are engaged in attention seeking. I know Petko's supporters expend a lot of effort in dressing it up as something else but that’s precisely what it is, irrespective of which of the two does it better. Nothing wrong with that, though not everyone in the media spotlight chooses to go down that road.

More importantly, however, I think it’s a mistake to assume everyone finds Petko’s routines as adorable or entertaining as her supporters would have us believe. With precious few exceptions, I mostly find them just as try-hard as Caro’s ill-conceived efforts over the past year. Clearly that’s no reason to hate on her, but the moral superiority with which her supporters use them to laud her whilst simultaneously taking a sh*t on Caro is really too much.


Feel free to dislike Caro or anyone else, but drop the pretence that it’s down to this or that incident.

And this isn’t about Petko either whom I really quite like, or at least have come round to a little since managing to disentangle myself from the cloying narrative on her being “good for tennis” – which, if anything, has gotten in the way of getting to know her properly. Even so,  I can’t say I’m especially sold on either. And even where I may have found things to appreciate in both women, none of that will have been because of their respective PR stunts.

My point is, whether you choose to loathe Caro as a simpering media whore, or serenade Petko as the second coming of Mary Poppins, both are based on little more than a subjective assessment – that slippery thing more commonly referred to as “taste”. And there’s an intrinsic hypocrisy at the heart of the idea that your preference for Petko’s stunts is based on anything more substantive than personal taste.

My own view is she’s a savvy enough individual to work her charms without resorting to gimmickry. I know how adorable so many seem to find such gimmickry – it’s not my cup of tea. But that too is a question of taste, and only taste – nothing more, nothing less. Its certainly not a reason to heap abuse on her the way some do on Caro, or to pretend we know anything about either woman.

Those who celebrate Petko will find reasons to do so even if it were her, and not Caro, impersonating Rafa in agony.

Those that hate on Caro, will find reasons to do so even where her attempts at humour are a little less ill-judged….they’re ideologically bound to.

Yet no quarter is spared by many of Petko’s fans or Caro’s haters in dressing up their feelings as something more elevated. It really isn’t – and pretending it is, is far more irritating than any number of  inflatable kangaroos.
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