I have no idea about the politics of this, and I don’t know who does. Sky News reporters seem fairly confident about presenting their opinions as facts, though, so I’m just going to go by what I can see on the TV.
Obviously this is serious and difficult stuff, especially as it’s something hard to understand and spreading. There’s a helicopter flying near my house in Bristol right now (and we had local riots earlier this year). It’s in extreme events when I think about how ridiculous we’ve made the world sometimes.
1. Fires are a lot brighter on Sky News. The same blaze looks really dull on the BBC. Commercial TV usually has its colours a bit more saturated and poppy, but not much. This is a massive difference, like someone is really trying to make a statement… “we’re more exciting!” v “we’re more true to life”, which probably reflects the management’s idea of what they are doing. But it looks weird.
BBC News – muted yet authoritative (this seems to have been enhanced for the website – it was much duller on air)
2. Looters offer fantastic market research insights into the disaffected youth of today who don’t like doing surveys:
- Carphone Warehouse – incredibly popular with da kids
- Currys – also very popular, probably more for the iPods and 3DTVs than the washing machines. Police doing an excellent job guarding the Croydon branch’s few remaining Xboxes, but they do appear to be taking satellite dishes for themselves.
- Jessops – bad news for this seller of high tech, highly portable and valuable cameras and camcorders. They have no shutters on their shop, but the windows seem completely untouched. Has the smartphone killed the digital camera?
- Carpet Right – the biggest surprise of all. What can anyone loot from Carpet Right? Are room sized remnants the latest street accessory, or did the guilty kids want to bring back something for mum? Surely the only carryable stuff in that shop is carpet shampoo? I don’t get it. My best guess is that someone tried to text their mates “let’s loot Carphone Warehouse” but it came out wrong. Damn you auto correct!
3. The kids clearly don’t respect Nick Clegg as a (deputy) leader. But just wait until David Cameron gets back tomorrow, he’ll sort you out.
4. In Birmingham, closing the Bull Ring early is enough to start a riot. That’s how much else there is to do in Birmingham. (I used to live there. I know.)
5. 24 hour news channels can’t get enough of this stuff. It’s oddly compelling, enough that I have some favourite moments:
- Sky’s live run down and shots of which are the popular looted shops so far, and which still have opportunities waiting while stocks last. I keep expecting to see the product placement logo pop up around the breaks.
- The fact that they run this stuff and still have breaks, featuring shops you just saw masked kiddies running out from.
- The owner of the historic building in Croydon who spent 10 minutes sharing his sorrow and distress, then passed the phone to his brother for him to add his thoughts. I think he was expecting this to be a show of brotherly unity, but his bro’s first words, live on Sky News, were a chipper “Hello! Who’s that?”, followed by a complete change of tone when he realised what was going on.
- A live look into Boots to see what got robbed. Empty drug packets all over the floor, the reporter picks one up and tells us, deadpan… “Immodium“.
- Sky reporter, Clapham resident and “man’s man” Mark Stone doing a remarkable job in his home area. He filmed some big smashing up close with his iPhone, then had to run as someone tried to mug him while he was filming.
- His commentary on what happened after that is extraordinary as he’s pumped with adrenaline and courage. He’s putting his fingers all over the evidence of stolen goods in the streets, and telling us what’s good and what’s not in his street. “Why on earth would anyone want to loot Toni & Guy? There’s nothing in here that anyone would want, nothing of any value at all.” I don’t think he’s into “product.”
- Not funny, but quite a tense audio account from another Sky reporter on how close people were getting to breaking into a bank. This was literally “blow by blow” as they kicked the doors in, the reporter counted down how long it would take them to get in, and the police cars became audible in tbe background as they were about to succeed. The police drove right past.
That’s as much sense as I can make from all this. Sorry if this seems bad taste; as the saying goes, “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye,” and that seems perilously close. But somewhere else in the world there is an Al Queda cell watching this thinking “sod it, let’s just let them burn themselves down.”
Where is Charlie Brooker when we need him?