The most recent revelation within Operation Yewtree is the news of Rolf Harris and his conviction of performing a series of sex attacks on young women and children in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, I actually feel as if a small part of my childhood has been completely and utterly destroyed.
On first hearing the news of Rolf Harris and the criminal charges he faced, I was of course, thoroughly shocked. News such as this makes you start to question what was really happening behind the scenes of children’s entertainment, and I am now left genuinely contemplating revising my childhood. To realise that all of the animal-caring, the singing and the didgeridoo playing was all fundamentally a hoax, has eliminated some of the definition of my childhood. Harris and his obscure and unusual musical talents always fascinated me as a child, even just saying the words ‘wobble board’ made me giggle, not to mention actually hearing this unique instrument and its characteristic ‘whoop whoop’ sound. I was in stitches of laughter.
Knowing that these attacks of sexual harassment and abuse date back almost 40 years ago, almost turns my stomach. What saddens me most however in all of this, is Harris had been convicted of assaulting his own daughter’s best friend. He took advantage of his incredibly high social status within the network of media and went as far as harming a family-friend.
Since 2012, Operation Yewtree has investigated sexual abuse allegations against people within the British Media. Other iconic figures who have also been found guilty, are the controversial publicist Max Clifford and the deceased Jimmy Saville. My faith in humanity was never exactly of the highest of standards to begin with, but after this, I am finding myself absolutely mortified, fundamentally feeling let down by the fact something as important as child molestation was thrown into a quiet corner and ignored.
Harris, who may possibly be stripped of his CBE; fifteen years after starting his string of sexual attacks, even created a documentary warning young people of paedophiles, aimed to teach children as young as five the valuable meanings of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. And a poll taken by Reader’s Digest Australia, voted him in the top 100 amongst Australia’s most trusted people. A very surreal sense of uncanniness. Prosecutors even labelled him as a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ type character who took advantage of his fame.
For me, someone who has always found enjoyment within art and a lover of sketching; after this shocking news of one of the most recognised artists of this century coming to light, my passion for drawing has now been somewhat slightly tainted. Rolf’s artistic career hit its peak back in 2005, where he completed an oil-painted portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, in order to mark her 80th birthday. To know that the artwork of a criminal for a period time stayed within Buckingham Palace, the home to the monarchy for just short of 180 years, really does produce a sense of unease for me. How can I now go on continuing to enjoy one of my most favourite hobbies, when the innocence behind artistic creativity has in a sense been fundamentally corrupted?
He agreed in front of the jury that he was ‘pretty good’ at hiding his dark-side. The national treasure of children’s entertainment has now destroyed his reputation as the fun-loving performer, but the reality is, he should have been obliterated from our television screens long ago.