Monday, November 10, 2014

The irresponsible callousness of Irish TV show ‘Love/Hate’

Ireland is a funny little island at times. Perhaps in part due to its relatively small population and subsequently intertwined gossip networks, perhaps due to the fact there’s relatively little else to do in the evenings, we tend to gobble up ‘hit’ TV shows like a fat guy gobbles up cheeseburgers at McDonalds. They infiltrate all levels of the Irish entertainment World, and set in like a plague amongst a hungry populace ready to eat it all up. Give us the TV show, give us the related YouTube clips and the vines, give us the talk-show appearances and the hyperbolic daily-rag-newspaper ‘specials’ on the show.



I realise fully I am in a considerable minority in that I have a boat load of issues with this stupid little TV show that’s gripping Ireland as we speak. Love/Hate, we’ll call it LH going forward, is many things. First and foremost it’s a sensationalized dramatization of a tiny percentage of the drugs world in Ireland. It is massively irresponsible, and is, in my opinion, completely the wrong TV show for Ireland at this moment in time, at the juncture in Irish society. It is guilty of pandering in its sleaziest form and finally, it is a contextually wildly inaccurate portrayal of Irish society today.

First of all, LH is guilty of a sick level of sensationalizing, over inflating the impact of a very small percentage group within the Irish illegal drugs world. If you were to believe LH, Dublin in particular is basically worse than the Baltimore of the early 2000s, so brilliantly depicted on The Wire. Make no mistake, sections of Baltimore were a no-go area at that time. For anyone who has read David Simon’s brilliant book on the subject, ‘Homicide’, the show The Wire told the story brilliantly, and with very little hyperbole. Baltimore actually was that bad.

Dublin is not.

Sure, it’s bad in many ways. The illegal drugs issue is very bad, and people, families and kids are falling through the cracks, dropping unassisted by a Government and a police force either unwilling or unable to save and or protect them from a life spent in drugs. The sick re-packaging of this story by LH, turning it into some kind of sexy drama, with young faces, gun fights and dramatic incidents, is an ugly lie.

You want to argue that LH is not sensationalized? Go ahead and google ‘Love/Hate’ and click on the images tab.

Dramatization/sensationalization, moi?

You want to argue that RTE are entitled to dramatize the drugs world in Ireland? Okay so. That’s where the irresponsible nature of LH rears its ugly head. The characters. Go ahead and stick your head in the sand if you like, but Ireland’s teen-youth in particular are absolutely lapping this stuff up. They are changing their social network profile pictures and handles to incorporate LH characters pictures and names. They are sitting in fast-food restaurants loudly talking about drugs. They are brazenly purchasing drugs on the street in the cold light of day.

In short, the TV show LH is empowering Ireland’s youth to watch, enjoy, act out, live in and soak up Ireland’s drug world.

Again, go play emu and bury your head in the sand if you like, but the younger generations of Ireland are absolutely loving this TV show, and, sorry kids, they aren’t smart enough to know what to copy and what not to copy.

This leads me to the aspect of pandering.

You might be sitting there thinking ‘screw this guy, we don’t have a drugs problem’, well, sorry,  if you think that, then you are oblivious, and you are a victim of RTE and LH pandering to you. They are showing you these idiots running around with guns and drugs, having sex and living these fast-paced sexy lives, and you are soaking it all up because you don’t think there’s a real problem with drugs. It’s either that, or you don’t care, and I don’t know which of those categories you want to belong to, but if you completely disagree with me, go ahead and pick one.

LH is pandering in its sleaziest, lowest form, by a national TV station, over a frankly gormless population that is swallowing it all up happily. We sit there in our comfy suburban homes watching this stupid TV show so we can talk about so-and-so shooting so-and-so or whoever screwing whoever in last night’s episode. Meanwhile, for those whose lives are ruined by drugs, today is just another day itching, scrounging, fighting and dying in a nasty, ugly world completely devoid of the sexy, sensationalized nature of LH.

Most of all, what this irresponsible show is completely lacking is context. Sure, there are a tiny proportion of idiots involved in the illegal drugs trade running around with a lot of money, a few old guns and a lot of time on their hands with which to conduct dramatic drugs-related incidents. There’s no denying it. What LH is abjectly missing, and therefore deliberately misleading everyone who watches it, is the true context of the drugs world in Dublin and Ireland.

Drugs in Ireland is that sad, haggard couple, completely strung out, pushing a toddler in a trolley down O’Connell street, asking tourists for a euro for a youth hostel. Drugs in Ireland is creepy 30-50 year old men with backpacks wandering around our streets in broad daylight selling pills, tablets and weeds to 15 and 16 year olds. Drugs in Ireland is the boarded up houses of former drugs dealers. Drugs in Ireland is a slew of young men and women sitting in semi abandoned houses smoking weed all day long as their lives slip away around them.

None of those things are quite as sexy or as dramatic as the garbage LH tries to peddle, and in that we see clearly the worst aspect of LH, its deliberate, callous and misleading glorification and dramatization of drugs in Ireland.  They are feeding us an irresponsible, pandering and misleading pile of trash, and, as always, Ireland is gobbling it up.

Mexico is currently ripping itself apart in grief and trauma after the horrific murder of 43 young students by a drugs gang acting in collusion with a corrupt local mayor and police force. This was able to occur in a society where illegal drugs are an everyday way of life, an accepted entity that has gripped an entire nation.

Obviously Ireland has a long, long way to fall before it slips into that level or horrible tragedy, however big disasters come off the back of smaller steps leading to same. Walk around the streets of Dublin, Cork, Limerick or Waterford and see for yourself, there are disgusting, sleazy, ugly older men wandering around with backpacks full of illegal drugs, selling them in broad daylight to teenagers who are lapping them up, grabbing at a taste of the drugs world, that same world so gratuitously glorified by Ireland’s state television station, RTE, on the irresponsible, callous and completely misleading show, Love/Hate.


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