George Graham

Pervasive Voyeurism Signals Growing Sickness in Society

I don’t have to tell you that American society is sick. And I’m not talking only about the lack of decent health care that Democratic presidents have been trying – in vain – to address from the time of Harry Truman. I’m getting into “shrink” territory here. As in crazy sick.

My guess is that it springs from loneliness. Or rather solitariness. I remember one winter, living alone in a Toronto efficiency, when I could have sworn the walls were moving in on me during the dark, dreary days and nights. We are gregarious creatures – herd animals if you will. Our minds play tricks on us when we are forced to endure extended periods of solitude.

Huddled over computers or squatting in front of television sets, too many Americans spend their time in a fantasy world – a world observed rather than experienced. The popularity of soap operas and the obsession with “celebrities” testify to that. America is becoming a nation of chubby (even obese), hollow-eyed voyeurs, eagerly consuming the most trivial details of other people’s lives – fictional and real – and getting their jollies from imagined experiences.

I say “Americans” but I am sure the sickness has spread through the “civilized” world. It’s just that I live in America, and (like most American residents) I don’t know what goes on in other countries. American media is like a room of mirrors that reflect the room’s interior and shut out the world outside.

erinThis rant comes to you courtesy of the Erin Andrews affair. As sports fans (and a lot of other voyeurs) know, Ms. Andrews is a 31-year-old reporter for ESPN. And she looks quite presentable (see photo at right). And, most germane to this blog, she is female. Proof of her gender was provided to a gawking Internet audience – and subsequently to the reading and viewing public – by some lowlife with a video camera.

The video showed up recently on the Internet and quickly spread to newspapers and TV. Taken by a peeping Tom who managed to sneak a look inside the reporter’s hotel room, it showed Ms. Andrews doing her hair. She happened to be nude. Blurry though it was –  the video immediately became a sensation.

The invasion of privacy was so egregious that Ms. Andrews plans to seek criminal charges and file civil lawsuits against the person who shot the video and anyone who publishes the material, according to her attorney.

But that probably won’t stop the media frenzy. Under the guise of expressing outrage at the incident – and (ironically) at the publication of the illegally obtained video by “news” organizations – the chatter will undoubtedly continue, providing an excuse to keep reproducing the “sexy” image. Fortunately , these “nine-day wonders” tend to lose their power to titillate more and more quickly as the public is subjected to more and more of them.

This, too, shall pass away, and Ms. Andrews will return to her normal life of covering hockey, college football, college basketball and Major League Baseball, as she has been doing for the past five years. But the respite will not be complete. In this male-dominated society, female sports reporters – especially presentable looking ones – are rare. And the former dance team member at the University of Florida was an Internet sensation even before the nude video. She has been referred to as “Erin Pageviews” because of the traffic that video clips and photos of her generate, and Playboy magazine named her “sexiest sportscaster” in both 2008 and 2009.

Imagine that. In the year 2009, with all we have to think about, I find it surprising that Playboy Magazine is still doing  “sexiest” this and that features.  Indeed, I find it surprising that Playboy Magazine still exists. But then I’m not as young as I used to be.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for