THE FACT OF THE MATTER
So, radio DJ Lottie Ryan was not impressed with Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel’s dig at the Irish during the awards ceremony, saying we had hoped for Oscar glory after a record 14 nominations but “ended up the butt of jokes about drinking, fighting and unintelligible accents”.
On the night, Kimmel made reference to five Irish stars being nominated for an Academy Award, claiming the “odds of another fight on stage just went up”. The daughter of the late Gerry Ryan said: “It’s not just Jimmy Kimmel that writes these scripts. There is a whole team that puts these things together. But he still went ahead, and people on social media aren’t very comfortable.”
She also failed to see the humour in the Saturday Night Live skit impersonating Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. The sketch was criticised for being “offensive” and “mean-spirited” in its portrayal of Irish stereotypes. The skit featured a look-alike Gleeson and Farrell speaking in bizarre accents, followed by the presenter joking: “Wow, and they haven’t even started drinking yet.”
The backlash against Lottie Ryan on her social media platform has been vociferous, to put it mildly, with the majority of hundreds of comments telling her to “get real”, “grow up” and “stop being such a snowflake” and that we Irish have always had the ability to laugh at ourselves.
Snowflake? While Lottie may be, at 37, far too old for the Snowflake Generation, the suggestion is that, like snowflakes, today’s young people are delicate individuals, easily offended and a slight increase in temperature will see them in emotional meltdown.
I can be the devil’s advocate and argue that young people today come in for a lot of flak. Like previous generations, they can be loud and gregarious and demanding that all be handed to them on a plate.
Despite their apparent nonchalance, there is an onus on them — some of it self-imposed or peer pressure — to perform, to achieve, to succeed. No exam is, seemingly, any longer a guarantee to a good job in this day of internships and zero-hours contracts. And let’s not go near body-image and self-esteem and ambiguity towards trans people.
Some would argue that successive governments have failed our young, particularly in the area of housing and getting a leg up on the mortgage ladder, and they are once more leaving this island because they see no place for themselves in the Ireland of the 21st century.
Add to this myriad modern manifestations of a lost society, sexual casualisation, lack of moral fibre, corruption in government, church and the legal system, and you get some idea of how our young may feel lost and confused and easily offended.
I don’t have any magical solution to offer a generation who, sadly, feel under pressure. We are, once again like the Eighties and the Fifties, about to lose a generation of our young and gifted to emigration.
I found myself the other week crossing Dublin City by Luas, crammed like in pre-Covid times. The proverbial tin of sardines. An elderly woman got on at the next stop and faced standing, until a young man jumped up from his seat to offer it to her. “I am glad to see there are still some gentlemen, “ I said to no one in particular.
He acknowledged my remark with a smile and we got talking. He was what Dubs call an inner city kid; I reckoned about 27 or so and when he had smiled his bad teeth hinted at darker times. I was right. He had been a drug user since he was 14, barbiturates and hash at first but by 19 was using heroin.
His mother, a lone parent, desperate to save her eldest boy from the ravages of Dublin’s inner city drugs and its accompanying mayhem, took him, by then aged 22, and his younger sibling off to stay with a relative in Co Mayo. There he spent “weeks, months” going through the ‘cold turkey’ of withdrawal, eventually getting a job in a warehouse and going back to school to sit his Leaving Cert.
The day we met he had just received word he had been accepted by Trinity College to study for a degree as a mature student. A psychology degree “so I can learn and perhaps help others with such demons,” he said as he bid me adieu and jumped off at the next stop.
Give me his company any day over an easily offended Lottie Ryan.