Thursday, January 27, 2011

Congratulations! It's a David Koch!

Apparently hospitals have been banning fathers from filming the birth of their child. And apparently David Koch from Sunrise says 'you just shouldn't have cameras down there'. This just shows why you should never start a sentence with 'apparently David Koch from Sunrise says...'

But it does seem to me to be a rather strange activity for a father to get involved in, going around filming the birth of his children. Because after he's made sure he's got the zoom right, and the focus just so, and the position of the camera correct, and is reasonable certain that he's got it stable, and has moved to get out of the way of this doctor, and has adjusted the knobs so that he still gets a reasonable picture because of the lights, and has moved to get out of the way of that doctor, and has pressed this and twirled that and fiddled with whathaveyou, and ducked around the nurse, and adjusted still more things, what's he going to do? More ducking and weaving and adjusting and twirling and twiddling, presumably - so that by the time his child is born he will have a definite, specific and imperishable memory of the event. He'll be able to say to his child, years after, 'yes, I was there when you were born - it was the most magical moment of my life!' And I suppose he was there - in a sense. He can pretty much skip the bit where he tells his child about it, though - he'll probably have to, and anyway, it will be much easier to simply direct them to youtube, or a DVD, or something like that.

When I consider the case of Dads filming their partners in labour, I conceive a high and wistful longing for the old days when they would sit on a comfortable chair in a waiting room chewing their fingers and performing unconscious origami on their hats. They seem to me to be just as present as a dad with a camera on their shoulders: they've certainly entered into the spirit of the occasion more. Maybe it's just me, but I feel that filming dramatic events like births or deaths or the rather eventful in-betweens doesn't really add anything to the savour of life: who wants details? It's always the hardest to remember the high points and low points in our life in detail. Electricity bills, bank loans, and tax forms are full of details, but you wouldn't want to get excited about them. In fact, the only exciting events we can talk about in lots of detail are usually ones that we were never at in the first place. I can remember quite a few details about the Second World War, for instance: how about you?

Contra fathers who film their children being born, and contra the age we live in in general, and contra Parishiltonpamelaandersonsharonosbourneshanewarne and the rest of the living-perpetually-on-camera generation, life is not a performance, birth is not merely a drama for the camera, love is not a theatrical show for the internet. The Trojans did not wait for nine years and then get killed by the Greeks just so Homer could finish his damn poem, and Christ did not learn his lines from a crappy script written by Mel Gibson 2000 years later. Events do not wait around to get recorded before eventuating, and life, in spite of appearances, is not about appearances.

Though maybe, in the mind of a certain minor Australian celebrity of the early 21st century, some 50 years ago, a new mother was congratulated with the words, 'Congratulations, Mr Koch! You've just given birth to a bespectacled, balding, slightly tubby television personality with an expertise in accounting who will present a top-rating Channel Seven current affairs and commentary program! You must be so proud!' You just never know.


brokenbiro said...

Filming things stops them feeling real - I got a chance to go up in a helicopter once and filmed the whole thing - then later had no recollection of how it felt to BE there, because making the film was like watching a film. My normally-stoic companion found the whole experience terrifying but I remained disappointingly unmoved.

So I think we've learned something important here - never give birth in a helicopter and don't let a Koch near your vagina!

TimT said...

You came a-cropper in a chopper?

Email: timhtrain - at -

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