sábado, novembro 11, 2017

Sexual Proclivities: "The Politicians and I: what I couldn't (or didn't want) to write until today" by José António Saraiva

"Eu e os Políticos: o que não pude (ou não quis) escrever até hoje" = "The Politicians and I: what I couldn't (or didn't want) to write until today".

Is it possible for a journalist (or an author “who was once a journalist”) to cross the line? When someone gave me this book I wasn’t sure I’d read it. I’m not really into the gossipy side of politics. But because I was on a boat cruise on route to the Greek Islands everything sort of made sense...

António José Saraiva makes quite clear what’s wrong with this kind of book; a book of this kind chooses a bunch of people who didn't consent to be a subject, rather than the ones who did. If Miguel Portas were alive this kind of privacy violation would probably be traumatic and maybe involve legal action. He's dead, yes but ..is it not still better that Saraiva should just have found a consenting subject? (For my foreign readers, Saraiva claims Miguel Portas said to him that Paulo Portas, his brother, was/is gay).

I mean; are you interesting? Are you flawed? Is it ok for a book to talk about things you wished to remain private, and said in a private conversation, to be made available to audiences without your consent? If you are dead, is it OK then, and if you say yes, does it matter how it will affect other still living people who knew you and if you still say yes - should journalists assume it's OK for all subjects just because some subjects would be OK with it? Audiences might not care about any of this, but how to get the story without doing anything defamatory or breaching privacy for the subject is what journalists question all the time. I do think it is a more complex issue than that when we are still dealing with the all-pervasive structures of the closet. Individual agency is not always what is keeping something secret in such structures. And I really don't think that one is right that people would have been shouting louder about journalistic ethics if the subject were a straight man.

In journalism there is, as far as I'm aware, a test called "the public right to know". What is the public's right to know about the sexual activities of a third party that he did not choose to commit to public broadcast during his lifetime? Or any other aspect of said other parties for that matter? He didn't consent to the use of the recorded material being used for the purpose for which it was. Perhaps the apparent fact that his brother wasn't "openly gay" in his own lifetime indicates that he would not have consented to a book being made about his brother with a focus in some episodes on his sexual private life. Because maybe Miguel Portas wanted irreconcilable things; privacy and to have his story told. Maybe he shared with a journalist, because of this conflict about wanting to be heard even if still he wanted his brother’s privacy while alive. If this was the case, it’s possible that it is a line cross, as he definitely did not consent, but he might approve now anyway, if we could speak to him from the grave, because publishing after his death and in an empathetic way resolved his two conflicting wishes? And I think that it might be possible. But it's still a line cross, because we only know for sure that he didn't give consent while alive, not whether he was telling that the journalist all that in hopes of being documented, or just because they got along, and he wanted to chat.

So, it is not at all clear to me that the subject didn't give consent to his private conversations being available to the journalist. It is sensationalist; does Saraiva consider the extent to which Miguel would have wanted his story told? We’ll never now Miguel’s side of things because he’s no longer among us.

Having said this, I am also less able to trust journalists who sit at arms' length from a story and who discuss it in a vocabulary tinged with disdain for the subject. However mild you might think that disdain, it's there. I also know that the logic of the closet makes claims to privacy much more complicated than a matter of personal choice. I also don't think that privacy has, in fact, been significantly breached in some of the other instances in the book concerning Portuguese political and media figures, namely when it concerns our former prime minister, José Socrates, who is as corrupt as they come. Incidentally he and Trump are best buddies. Go figure. I hope Socrates rots in jail, but I’m not sure will see a conviction any time soon. At least he’s been indicted.

António José Saraiva was the director, for 23 years, of our most prestigious newspaper, Expresso. Why turning now into a guttersnipe? I know he now claims he’s no longer a journalist. I have journalist friends and they say “once a journalist always a journalist”. I tend to agree with that.  This is professional malpractice, rooted in major deceit. Saraiva hasn't just shown major contempt for his subjects, he's done major damage to a bunch of people, who remain alive. It's something like gaining access to the psychiatric records of a person who's been investigated without consent, and turning into a TV Show because you want to win awards and be famous.

Incidentally, is anyone sure the man you listened to as he was peeing into a sink while describing his own ("tiny") penis would be even half as upset by this as me, or even the author of the book? Perhaps I am being inconsistent, because consent and approval can be slightly different things and whether they are still alive when something is published can be a relevant factor? Like if people praise my work, after a teacher has made an example of me in front of the class, but I did not consent to the teacher doing that, I even said please don't, and was mortified when she pushed me, I might later on, when no longer facing my fellow students, at least approve of the fact that they did praise my work.

You know who doesn't give a toss about privacy?

Dead people. But what about the living?

NB: I don’t give a rat’s ass about what Socrates said in the media when this book came out about what was written about him. He’s still alive and living off the money he stole when in office.

2 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

Google JUST offered to translate this comment page. Excellent. Now I won't push the wrong button. I still like pressing the "Gostou" button over on wordpress though. I sing out "totally gostou'd!" when I click it :-) I don't know how it is pronounced but in my head I pronounce it like Jacques "Cousteau"


Dead people have no rights in my books. However, as long as the people who were around them have legal rights to withhold information, I don't have a problem with that. Or if they want to blab, then that is their prerogative.


The kind of person who wants to write such yellow stuff and the kind of people who are willing to spill their dead friends deepest secrets, well, they're scum. Maybe because I'm a private person, but what is wrong with people in spilling their guts about their dead friends/relatives? And I mean that as "something is very wrong with the people who do such a thing".

I do think that if you have something you don't want shared with the world, don't write it, don't say it, don't record it in any way. Or it will be exposed. That's why I NEVER talk about my peanut butter, toast and pickle fetish. Ooops! Dang, outed by my own need for 5minutes of fame.

And it doesn't help that people buy and read these books by the bundle.

Manuel Antão disse...

Nowadays everyone is out to make a buck. Human nature I suppose. It's not in my nature but to each his own. The world is so full of pricks. The prick density must be awfully high...

NB: "Gostou" (Liked it)= "Cousteau" (phonetically speaking). I'll have you writing and speaking Portuguese in no time...