Alvaro Gijon, mayor of Palma in Mallorca has slammed drink-fuelled unsavoury behaviour, commenting that “People vomiting and heeding calls of nature in public is not on”.
You would think this goes without saying; there is nothing more embarrassing than drinking until you forget your own name, vomit on your clothes and collapse in the street. Yet every summer scores of young Britons head to resorts like Ayia Napa, Kavos and Malia on package holidays with their mates for a week of no-holds-barred, alcohol fuelled partying. It might all just be a bit of fun, but the darker side of these holidays became all too real this week when Tyrell Matthews-Burton was stabbed to death in a bar brawl in Malia.
Most of us were blissfully ignorant as to what went on in the sunny climes of Spain and Greece, until luckily (or unfortunately) for us BBC Three and Channel 4 ventured into the bars, clubs and emergency clinics to follow around scores of revellers drinking, having casual sex, and generally making tits of themselves on national television. Horrified Twitter users on hearing that TV producers would be filming their holidays exclaimed “What happens in Kavos STAYS in Kavos!!!” I’m inclined to agree, but the producers of the prime-time documentaries selflessly follow around the naïve teenagers to document their drunken antics. In one memorable episode of Channel 4’s What Happens in Kavos a lad drinks a cup of urine before vomiting it back into the same cup, whilst others take part in drinking games involving performing sex acts on pieces of fruit. Gripping.
Except, these programmes are gripping; the January series of What Happens in Kavos drew in 1.61m viewers, whilst on BBC Three, the most recent series of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents hit 1.1m viewers. TV voyeurism is compelling, full stop. It makes us feel superior as we sit back and judge those featured, and whilst the expressions on most viewers’ faces are probably akin to the grimaces of the parents watching their darling children getting wasted and humping strangers, plenty of viewers are laughing.
Whether or not it’s right to make fun of naïve teens making fools of themselves, the sinister side of these programmes is that people get hurt, and the only sober people within a mile’s radius are standing behind cameras doing nothing about it. In one episode of What Happens in Kavos 19 year-old Nikki fractures her spine falling off a podium, whilst in another 25 year-old Ryan dislocates his knee.
Producers of the show have reportedly been accused of exploiting teenage girls, awarding prizes to staff who can find girls taking the morning after pill, and pushing drunken, confused kids into signing releases they are too drunk to read. There is no more than a cursory look into the dangers of the holidays, and injured party-animals are seen laughing off their injuries and heading straight back into the clubs.
This is irresponsible, exploitative television. It says, “look at these children making terrible decisions, think of the money we can make out of it”, but does very little to properly educate viewers about how to stay safe when travelling with friends, and discourage them from getting into the same sorts of scrapes. What happens in Kavos is due back on our screens in early 2014, but I suggest we leave them to it.