Unlike most opinion dispensaries, I’ll start local and work up to international.
Anyone can say whatever the fuck they like in this country. Sure, there’s an important exception which I’ll address below, but for the most part if I want to announce to the world that German sounds like Dothraki, cheeseburgers are the most consistently disappointing food in the world, or that I’m starting my own religion, I’m more or less free to do so. Similarly, if TV3 really want to bang on about all the crime that didn’t happen in Limerick this year as if the rest of the country is somehow surprised that Bedford Row doesn’t look like Baghdad, that’s fine.
Earlier this week, that effectively happened. Donal MacIntyre – who was in town with a film crew during the year of culture and yet apparently didn’t see anything positive of note – made a charmless little documentary entitled “breaking crime”, in which he covered three topics
1. How all of Limerick’s problems would be solved if we could just let all the children have unfettered, unlimited, unregulated access to horses throughout the city. Replace the word “horse” with the word “hang-glider”, and then try and convince me there’s a logistical difference.
2. The rather wonderful story of a gentleman that had been addicted to heroin as well as in legal trouble, and had overcome both to re-enter society as a contributor. No real exception taken here, well done that man. Not too glad that Big Dublin Journo Man felt the need to show us all that if the people of Limerick try really, really hard they too can move from robbing people to laying block. Thanks Donal! Guess I’ll untie the people I have in the boot and buy a hi-vis, if you have THAT much faith in us.
3. The exploits of a young man from King’s Island (which, lest anyone forget, has the highest unemployment rate of anywhere – any county, city or townland – in the entire Republic) and how he’s tried to move past his exceptionally shady past, but can’t because there’s nothing to do in the Island, and he doesn’t stand a chance because of the address on his CV. He’s 23, and in his own words, sees no future. At first I was fairly unsympathetic towards the guy because of his shady past, then I remembered what I was watching. I’d say it’s safe to assume McEntyre edited just enough to make sure as many people as possible would share my reaction.
Net result – a hatchet job, but one with enough pats on the head to Limerick to make us feel special, as well as ensuring that nobody outside Limerick thinks there’s a Limerick outside regeneration. And what else does the country at large learn? Well, Thomond Park, the City Centre, people at work or going about their daily lives, none of those exist. Because in an hour of footage in which we saw the same car being “taken out for a spin” twice, in which we saw more horses than a Tesco meat processing plant, we didn’t actually see any of the rest of Limerick. not such a problem, assuming the rest of the country gets the same treatment.
But it won’t, will it? Dublin will be filled with shots of semi-blurred mocha-sippers sitting under canopies in the city centre. Long shots of Ana Livia, punctuated by maybe a quick cutaway or two of The Lads having The Craic in Temple Bar. And then we’ll get the dark, dingy music as Donal tells us that “under the surface of this bustling, cosmopolitan capital there lurks another world….a CRIME world” or some such nonsense.
And all of that is fine, really. I don’t like it, and chances are you don’t either. But Donal can say what he wants, and if we’re up to it, we can do our level best to prove him wrong. Or maybe we can just verbally wallop him, and say that he’s a washed-out hack that wouldn’t journalism if it jumped up and bit him in the ego. Or that his brand of sensationalist bollocks is virtually indefensible in an age where the average viewer/reader/consumer of media is actually well aware that the old pillars of the press are agenda-pushers and full of shit. Or that even the choice to put Limerick first in his series despite having a murder rate of zero (nil, nada, none) in 2014 was either baffling or incredibly cynical. We can all say what we want, and it’s fine. It’s not like anyone’s going to attack him or his camera crews, because we’re more civilised than that. At least, in Limerick we are…