Thursday, September 20, 2007
Hoodies and cider posted by Richard Seymour
The obsession of the media with the fate of a missing girl, or rather with the drama of her parents as they first plead for help then plead their innocence, is probably of a piece with their general hatred of young people. You know the young: they're great to sell things to, but are otherwise a source of seething, vitriolic resentment. Need proof? Or, what about this research from Brunel University? The idealised, spectral, silent childhood embodied by the image of a sweet little girl is itself proof of the degeneracy and animalistic savagery of most of the remaining young population. They who wear strange head clothing, speak in their own language, stick together, listen to wierd music and plot criminal activity behind their concealing garments (does that stereotype sound familiar at all?). They who must be endlessly surveilled, regulated, dispersed on order from the police, ASBOd, tagged, curfewed, expelled, locked up, beaten and schooled in the virtues of a respect that they are never shown.
There is no other way to explain the frequent juxtaposition of utter derangement about paedophiles which has nothing to do with the legitimate outrage at the abuse of children, with crude and bitter denunciations of young people as criminal-minded and feral, people in need of refashioning by a stern patriarch (either in the family, or in prison, or in the military) before they are fully fit for the world. The media typically defends the very principle of patriarchy which actually mandates murderous violence toward children, and at the same time displays little interest in the fact that the bulk of violence toward the young - whether physical, sexual, or emotional - takes place within the sacrosanct space of the family. Perhaps this also partially explains the strange alacrity with which some of the more reactionary press are busying themselves proving the innocence of the parents. Of course, the main reason for the attention is that it's an easy topic to opine about, and therefore capitalise as advertising revenue, but that wouldn't explain the particular stances taken. Barely a day has passed without some rag - the Evening Standard or the Express or the Mail or the 'free' advertising sheets they shove into your hands in London - exhorting readers to disbelieve all rumours of parental complicity in the assumed death of the girl. Possibly, they're right - I don't actually read the damn things and don't fancy gossiping about it - but it seems a curiously quixotic effort in itself, since they can't know what the police will turn up. It can only be a reflexive, if mediated, defense of the structures of discipline and punition that supposedly keeps a tentative lid on the feral uprising. When this is over, whatever 'over' happens to mean, the daily deluge of 'yob' stories will be still be there, along with the usual array of rambo solutions from politicians and coppers. For Britain is still a country where the ruling ideology adores youth, but hates the young; idealises childhood, but despises children; and demands respect, but gives none.