Chilean Miners: Super Victims Or Super Villains?

Unless you’ve been trapped underground for the past 69 days as a result of a Chilean mining disaster you’ll have heard the story of the 33 miners trapped underground for 69 days as a result of a Chilean mining disaster.

When the gold and copper mine first collapsed on 5th of August the coverage was minimal, but like an aggressive tumour the story has rapidly grown in size with global news networks reporting every twist and turn in the tale to the point where today, the day that the miners finally gain their freedom, the coverage is all up in your eyes like cataracts.

The Guardian are doing a minute-by-minute report akin to a Cup Final, as is the good old Beeb, with videos and all sorts of data so you can quantify the rescue. It’s also live on BBC1 right now, in addition to the standard rolling news covering, which is inevitably reaching fever pitch. I’ve also heard unconfirmed reports* that Sky have an animated progress bar representing number of miners saved. I imagine it looks like this…

…although I admit it may be slightly more sophisticated.

But Sky can afford to be flippant because even though these miners have been trapped for 69 days at an astounding depth of 2,300ft -  twice as long as any other known survivor of a mining accident - the story has shifted in focus from whether or not they will survive, to how much money they will make when they get out. Reports suggest that TV companies are offering up to £250,000 to each miner for their exclusive story and publicity agents, like vultures circling a dying animal, are battling to sign up families of the still trapped workers. However, in a shrewd move that suggests their skills might have been better used as talent agents rather than hitting rocks underground, the group of 33 have sought legal advice and drawn up a contract so that they will all profit equally from any money raised as a result of their ordeal - all orchestrated from their underground lair.

Now that makes the 33 sound like super villains who masterminded a headline-grabbing mining disaster in order to secure for themselves global celebrity and financially security, and I’m not saying that’s what they did. That’s for you to decide. But even if they are super villains, which they are, they definitely are, they have played the media like a cheap fiddle by creating a story so compelling and media- friendly, that it caused the major news networks to reach a state of orgasmic frenzy.

The story had danger, drama, tension, weeping women and children, obvious victims and a man-stuck-down-a-well premise that is so simple it has been mined by TV writers since the medium became popular. I think the best way to solve this problem isn’t with an elaborate capsule system that takes an hour to free one man, they should just send in Skippy. Failing that Lassie, or for disasters at sea, Flipper.

* Benjamin Franklin said “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see”. An idiom that holds true today. The only addition I would make is “…and none of what you see on Twitter”.


  • Jm October 14, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    i’m bored of those miners now. i preferred them when they were still underground.

  • Jessica October 20, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Whoever wrote this is a fucking moron.
    I imagine whenever this moron introduces himself to people he says he’s a writer… YOU’RE NOT, you’re a twat.


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