I have my digital radio set so I’m woken by the Today programme. Edward Stoughton is a spluttering imbecile and clearly no reasonable person can believe that James Naughtie is anything but a dirty-minded little beast. I can’t say I enjoy it, but there’s nothing quite like it to get me in the mood for the day’s bickering.
This morning I was actually moved to laughter by a report on knife crime in Edmonton. I could tell they were pleased with it because both presenters assumed their solemn voices, usually reserved for child kidnappings and the deaths of members of the royal family.
For this special investigation a reporter had spent 15 minutes cruising MySpace looking at the profiles of members of a gang called "Dem Africans". He’d watched this video of them playing with a gun and it had clearly scared the bejaysus out of him.
Nice atmosphere in that video, like twelve year olds with a porn mag.
He'd also gone round Edmonton, trying to get someone to talk about this gang. No-one would talk to him, not out of fear of reprisal, I imagine, but just because listening to him saying the words “Dem Africans” over and over, in his classless BBC accent, was terribly dispiriting.
The one person they did manage to interview (I think they'd met him at the bus stop or something) was so totally overcome by self-importance that he started spouting urban platitudes about how it’s “life and death on the streets” and wound up describing himself as an “outlaw”. There's clearly nothing urban youth likes more than "drama". Besides being listened to by enraptured BBC journalists.
Anyway, it all reminded me of this anti-knife crime ad from MCBD, that I think has fallen for the same breed of solemn, upper-middle-class stupidity. Frankly the last thing teenagers need to be told is that their lives are like a particularly well-produced and gritty urban drama.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote that the really important thing is the humanity of the ideas that you propagate in your lifetime. I think this ad propagates a dangerous and stupid idea. It imbues knife crime with a pathos that it does not deserve. While the consequences may be unpleasant, the act of knifing someone is not tragic. Although tragedy may appeal to teenagers, because of its relation to fame, the act of stabbing someone in the stomach is, no doubt, a terrible disappointment, ugly and meaningless. Sans stabbing (that's French), nothing London's teen gangs do is in the least serious, the suggestion in the Today report that they're mafia organisations with a cellular structure is just fucking absurd. These are teenagers ripping one another off over eighths of weed and the new Sony Ericsson. A boy was stabbed on Hammersmith Grove quite near where I live and the gang that got him were after his dog.
What you want to do is make knives look uncool. What this ad does is to remind a group of people who want nothing more than to be thought of as bad and and scary just how bad and scary knives are. That'll work now won't it?
PS: Why is no-one commenting? I know you're out there. I've got a sitemeter remember.