Thursday, 11 August 2011

Delightful penguins etc

Great comment from Luis Enrique here in response to the argument a 'greed is good' culture is a backdrop to this week's riots:
Where and how does society promotes those values? In the films, telly programs, books and newspaper articles I read, all those values are portrayed as bad. Jim Carey, for instance, always starts out a career oriented monster but then some delightful children/penguins teach him the error of his ways.
I feel exactly the same. You generally cannot watch a mainstream film without getting the message that your family and friends are far more important than careers and material possessions. What's more this message is embedded in a story, a narrative, rather than just a 15 second advert, so it potentially ought to have greater pull. The messages we are sent about the value of material stuff are mixed to say the least.

Some other random thoughts. Personally, I think that lots of young kids got involved in this stuff primarily because a) it is fun (something no-one seems to want to acknowledge) and b) they saw others doing it and getting away with it. Herdlike destructive behaviour that, briefly, looked to participants like something they could get involved with, cost-free.

By coincidence, as my bus home usually goes down Rye Lane I ended up right where the violence flared up in Peckham on Monday night. The kids there - and they were mainly pretty young - did not look angry, they looked excited. And I felt that atmosphere that I have felt before in big crowds, be it on a demo or at football or whatever, that if just one or two people start something off, everyone else will pile in. Once I saw that I immediately thought it would definitely kick off and that I should get out of the way.

So, again just my personal view, I suspect that - Tottenham aside - there isn't much worth 'learning' from what just happened. I can't really see how we can address the fact that young people (especially young blokes) get a kick out of smashing stuff up if they can get away with it, without resorting to some pretty draconian measures that we won't need the vast majority of the time.

Oddly, despite the fact that they smashed up our local Tescos, and the nearest main shopping street, I don't really feel any anger about the riots. Maybe it's because I've got other things to be angry about currently, but I suspect a lot of people now expressing outrage were glued to rolling news on Monday, when it looked like the news montage section used to illustrate society collapsing that you see in dystopian sci-fi/horror films. ho hum.

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