I’m still troubled by the UK riots (because it’s not just London anymore), though I have been in e-mail contact with someone I know from my time as a student in North West London who told me that at least Harlesden, the neighbourhood where I lived as a student, has been largely spared rioting, though there has been some looting. Which doesn’t make seeing burned out houses in Croydon or Tottenham any less depressing. It’s also deeply disturbing to look at a photo or video footage of burning cars and buildings and rioting youths and suddenly realize, “Hey, I’ve walked along that street. I’ve been to that shop that’s just being looted.”
The Guardian has an interactive map of confirmed incidents, which is very useful.
What makes me really angry is people holding forth in their blogs how the looting and rioting can be excused because the looters are just protesting evil capitalism with their actions. No, I’m not offering links, because at least one of the people excusing the rioting and looting is a well known troll and shitstirrer and I don’t want to bring that sort of person to my blog. Still, this shit pisses me off to no end, because if the rioters and looters were protesting capitalism and racism, they’re doing it wrong by burning homes, small shops and cars that mostly belong to struggling people, often people of colour. Hell, it’s not as if London is lacking in targets, if you want to stick it to the capitalist system. But I don’t see those places burning.
And yes, I know that it’s a shitty time to be young in the UK, particularly if you live in troubled neighbourhoods. I also know that parts of the police are racist. Hey, I’ve lived in Harlesden, which is not exactly the most upmarket part of London and was considerably more downmarket when I lived there.
Oh yes, and do you know what also pisses me off? News reports talking at length about a stock market crash that didn’t happen, but might, and devoting far less airtime to riots that actually did happen. The weight given to economic news in the German news media has increased to ridiculous proportions. There are times when I have to double check whether I’m watching the evening news or Stock Market TV, because the news is almost all economics and sport.
And now, because with all the shitty world news we need something to cheer us up, here’s a plug for an awesome TV program:
Comedy Mission is a five-part documentary that follows Murat Topal, a Turkish German cop from Berlin turned stand-up comedian, as he and a Turkish German streetworker put on a hip-hop comedy version of Romeo and Juliet starring Berlin teenagers from a variety of background from very troubled and deprived to comfortably middle class. It doesn’t match common clichés either, e.g. the kid who’s been living on the street since he was six is a white, unhyphenated German, while the middle class girl headed for university is Turkish German.
I came upon this program by accident, because it’s a summer replacement for a program I watch regularly, and I was enormously impressed by the talent and determination of those Berlin teenagers.
And thanks to the magic of the Mediathek, you can watch for yourself. Just click on the image for a video of the whole episode:
All clips are in German, obviously.
Still, I think this is the perfect antidote to the depressing news of the day.