Criminals by Majella Coakley 27th January 2014
The definition of criminals as found in ‘dictionary.com’ explains criminal as malefactor, wrong doer, someone who breaks the law and ‘the VILLIAN’ It’s an exciting old-fashioned word, giving visions of comic book evil tyrants who never wins out against the hero-the innocent, righteous man of principle and generally hapless do-gooder. Take Batman and Robin versus the Joker-an Arch Villain. The Joker is portrayed as cunning, malevolent genius, who looks are maimed, has the devastating evil ha-ha-haaa laugh in contrast to the sensibility of batman Bruce Wayne and his loyal innocent Good Gosh, ‘Holy Catfish ‘good golly Robin.
Newspapers, especially the tabloids, given an impression sometimes of criminals, being villainous; that they are mad and bad versus the innocent citizens upon which they perpetuate their rabid crimes. The tabloids give names like ‘The Penguin’ ‘The General’. It sets them apart, makes them sound like something different. Even when they’re fighting amongst their own tribe, the innocent citizens muse to themselves and pound on the airwaves that once the criminals are keeping their fighting and shooting and killing in-house –so to speak-, the best thing is to leave them at it to maim, kill and hurt each other in the hunt for power. Reprisals of the criminal fraternity are seen as just deserts, with many of the more vociferous callers on radio saying ‘CRIMINALS! What more do they deserve?’
Watching TV shows such as Love/Hate, which is apparently a reasonably accurate representation of criminal life in Ireland, shows the ‘crims’ having ordinary lives also, sorting out the kids, girlfriends and lovers, trouble with the in-laws and showing the trite reasons for criminality; it makes considering them a little more complex than tabloid depiction, in shades of grey, rather than black and white, villains versus white faced goodies, rather than angels versus devils.
In the reporting of crimes perpetuated by villains, it’s sometimes with a glamour which is undeserved, and the writing about the victims is in terms of poverty of control and powerlessness, it’s in dramatic, catastrophic language, fitting in with the comic book metaphors of forces for evil and good.
Well angels? Is it time for a change in the comic book reporting and look to the shade?