Monday, March 22, 2010

When Will We See Hello Magazine's Gangland Edition?

An Spailpín Fánach is genuinely incredulous at the way crime and criminals are reported in the Irish popular media.

There is no journalistic need to give criminal activity the level of press exposure that it gets. In a proper, law-abiding society, “Three hoods hanged. Weather continues fine” on the bottom of page two would do the trick nicely. What else do you need to know? Instead, a bizarre glamorisation of criminals are criminality has emerged, and shows no signs of abating.

The reason why this glamorisation is currently the case is because this type of reportage sells papers. But it also tells us quite a lot about who buys papers, and the news is far from cheering.

If you want to sleep safe in your bed without worrying about gangland shootings, drugs, robberies and all the various other criminality that goes with all this, reading about shootings and drug deals and feuds doesn’t make any difference. Only the nicknames change. The rest goes on and on.

If you want to do something to tackle criminality, vote for political parties who will either enforce the current laws, enact new laws or do both until it’s really not worth the criminals’ while to continue with criminality. In Michael Collins’ words about something else entirely, it’s all a question of what breaks first – the body or the lash.

The huge press reportage of criminals and criminal activity does nothing to stop criminals committing crimes. What it does do is glamorise the criminals, and make it appear to the less sophisticated among the community that being a drug dealer or a murderer or an armed robber is no different from being a butcher, a baker or a candle-stick maker.

A teacher friend of the blog was rather taken aback when one of her young people replied “a drug dealer” when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. But why wouldn’t he?

Drug dealers are the major figures of the community in which he leaves. He can read about the local exploits of Dublin criminals in the Irish papers, and he can feel part of the great brotherhood of ganstas glorified by rappers in the US.

Remember Jimmy Rabbitte’s remarks in The Commitments about Dubliners being the blacks of Ireland, and northsiders being the blacks of Dublin? An Spailpín is pretty sure that there is a huge population who believe that. Look at the posters on sale on Henry Street on Saturday afternoon. Tony Montoya abounds. It is a very real culture, and it is being succoured and supported in the media.

Joe Duffy was taken aback on his show recently when someone suggested that junkies are now a part of who we are. Joe wasn’t buying this. But it’s not like junkies have come here from a galaxy far away, like the prawns in District 9 (or are going back there, worst luck). This is part of the culture now, and the popular media is embracing it, either innocently or cynically.

The picture at the top of this post might look funny now, but don’t be surprised to see it in the shops someday soon. If it’s not already here. God help us all.

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