Immediately, you know what this blog post is about. Not because of the media uproar last year, but rather because of the insidious reporting methods the media is using to stir up feelings and emotions again this year. For, quite aside from the Olympic reporting which comprises 90% of the July/August news (at least in the UK), many national papers have written brief, nearly identical articles about the London riots of yesteryear.
YES. This is August, granted that perhaps mention should be given a year on, especially when the events destroyed (and took) so many lives. However, surveys on the possibility of another rioting epidemic are unnecessary. Attempting to go back to the ‘roots’ of the story are unnecessary. Another debate about whether the riots were a racial issue, whether they weren’t a racial issue, is unnecessary. Especially with all the sensationalist headlines thrown in. Because that is what this is all about: sensationalism, papers hot off the print, and ultimately money. The media had a field day last August, and by God they’re looking for another one.
And it’s just a bit much.
Stripped down, to the basics, last Summer’s riots were about the youth. More importantly, the lack of correlation between the youth and other ages. “Back in the day”, our parents said, “we had to work for things.” They earned that first wage, bike, house, car. Today, we expect things. We expect that, after going to school for x years we’ll get a house, a car, and a job. A good job, not manual labour, because that’s for the immigrants (who are invading our country! WAAAHH!). God forbid you ever have to wait tables, that you’re ever in the position of listening to a senile old man enunciate his order in perfect monotony while you resist the urge to later spit in his food. Only failures end up there. And we expect to succeed, because we’ve been told as much. Because when a teacher asks a class of primary school children if they want to be a Prime Minister, and the sixteen pairs of hands fly up, you won’t hear: “Sorry kids. You didn’t go to Eton. You’re f*cked.” And so when the new, expectant generation first glimpses the great void that is to be the rest of their lives, fighting, rushing and competing to be successful because they’ve just realised that the world owes you nothing…we get riots. Because those kids want to delude themselves that they have that expected success, so they will smash and grab the things they are told are signs of success: the best shoes, a great TV, the newest iPhone. Or drugs, for a high that can make them feel on top of the world and successful. Or gangs, where they feel successful because of the group mentality, because they’ve pleased a leader or gained a reputation amongst their peers. Or just plain hedonism. Because success is whatever makes you feel good, right? Right?
It’s just a bit sad. We can’t understand the last generation, we see the success, but we expect where they have earned. Somewhere between the generations something went wrong. Maybe when the last was getting up-to-speed with new technology, wars, multiculturalism, whatever, they slipped up and forgot to help the next. Last summer’s riots? Just the first crack, the first rut, to show this problem Britain is so ready to hide. Because we Brits know how stubborn we are. And I suppose other countries view us as that tea-sipping nutter. Well, occasionally, we spill that tea. And when we’re trying to clean up, we make a bigger mess, and our nervous, characteristically sarcastic joke falls flat.