Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Why Did You Kill My Dad (ii) Full Review.

Ok, I managed to persuade my wife, on her birthday at all times, to sit down with me and watch the programme: her first time, my second. See how we spend our quality time? And actually, for once it was worthwhile wasting it, simply to see her ballooning anger and irritation and sheer horror and disgust at the tenditious, sentimental, every-heart-string-in-the-bag-plucked bias of this ghastly piece of film-making.

I intend to be fair and balanced from now on. The first paragraph is just a preliminary clearing-of-the-throat. A bile-expungement.

Aethelread, Serial Insomniac and Pretty Like Drugs have all covered the main points in detail, and very rationally. I suggest you read them first.

I am going to limit myself to filling in some gaps. I apologise if the gaps have already been filled by others.

i) There was not one voice of a mental-health user heard on the entire programme. The untermenschen were kept in their sound-proofed box of difference. This was, I presume, entirely intentional. If the millions of normal next-door neighbours with MH issues were interviewed to give balance, it would have destroyed the flimsy and fascistic argument that lay underneath the carefully unstated thrust of the argument.

ii) The programme asked, pleaded, and begged for a solution to the fact that Shit Happens. It never offered a solution. I think I am being fair in saying that it subliminally hinted at 'lock more of them up' as a partial solution. Maybe worse at times. That's the problem with drawing a problem in such giant dark guise and leaving the solution to other peoples' imagination: people will start thinking along horrid dark avenues. We've all been there before. The mentally-ill had their holocaust too in 30s Germany. We were the guinea-pigs for what came afterwards.

iii) The overweening focus on the personal begged the question: "If your Dad had been killed in a road accident, would you be campaigning against cars?" A far more numerously lethal aspect of our society.

iv) Statistical spinning. Fifty convicted homicides in England. (Cue analysis). One hundred convicted homicides in Britain. Ok, so you just added Scotland on to the total under the pretence of illuminating flawed counting techniques. And one of the above bloggers I think (may be wrong) pointed out that if that is the counting technique (the criminal rather than the victim) then the same probably holds to non-MH homicides also, and therefore the proportion remains the same.

v) Proportions. I have done the mildest of research. We seem to range from 750 - 1250 murders per year in the UK. Let's call it 1000. That gives a 10% figure for people suffering from mental illness. By all rights it should be at least 25%. Mental illness makes you LESS LIKELY to kill people! Also, stranger-murders run at about 5 per year, or 0.5%. This programme is insinuating that thousands of people should be locked up to prevent a tiny number of murders. I know we live in the time of special-rendition, Guantanomo, etc, but if any honest man or woman is prepared to state how many innocent should be deprived of liberty to save one life, then speak up, you hellhounds.

vi) Any large group, such as mentally-ill people, black people, Muslims, (always more simple to pick easy targets, eh?) has exactly the same gamut of good to bad, sane to nuts, safe to lethal within it. In fact, as stated earlier, being mentally ill makes you LESS LIKELY to kill someone. The main point is though, we are all the same. Yes. All the same. Even the ill ones. Scratch me, I bleed. (Of course, which type of mentally ill person changes the statistics. I'm sure the 2% of the population who suffer from schizophrenia and manic-depression might bear the brunt of it. However, I am arguing in the same manner, and engaging with the same vagueness as the programme in question, and it is rather polite of me to actually point this out.)

vii) Lastly. I have no problem with Julian Hendy making his programme. I don't blame him for any of its vile and fascist undertones. He's very angry, and very sad, and I don't blame him in the least for that. The people I blame are the editors, the commissioners, all the suits at the Beeb who should have had the moral sense, the ethical sense, and the simple good sense to insist on proper and decent 'tone', and 'presentation'. What we have been given is a grieving man's rage, aimed at a huge sector of society that is already disenfranchised, belittled, bullied, and shat and spat upon.

viii) Which leads me onto a last, post-lastly point. Either the powers-that-be at the Beeb are completely incompetent, socially unaware, inadequate, not-fit-for-purpose, or... they are working to an agenda. I hope, and having met plenty of Beeb people, am pretty sure its the former.

On a personal note: the testimonies of the families of the various victims brought tears to my eyes. Do not confuse or conflate my antagonism towards the propagandistic style of the film with my natural sympathy for those poor, grieving people.

On iplayer til Monday.


Marian said...

Interesting that they didn't include anyone in the programme who actually might have been able to answer the question they chose for the title.

Another thing, and it's just my own observation/experience (no, I haven't done away with anybody so far, but I have felt threatened), no studies available as far as I know, is that most murders committed by "mentally ill" people are committed under circumstances that would make them an act of self-defence. If anyone bothered to have a closer look at the circumstances. "The mentally ill" rarely kill out of greed, or jealousy, or for revenge. If they did, that would make them rather "normal".

But I guess, no one really asked for the motive anymore after the person was identified as a "mental patient". So, "mental illness" became the motive. And if "mental illness" is a motive to kill, then of course we better lock all "mentally ill" people up, and throw away the key...

David said...

Hmm the 'r' key must be sticking.

David said...

To be honest, the focus was on random murders.

Very rare.

Agree completely with you general points. The 'sane' do stuff we 'nuts' don't, nine times out of ten.

But the programme made random murders seem everyday, common, and round the corner, so to speak.

Hope you're well Marian.

Take care, Dx

Morte said...

HI David,
Wouldn't have known about this prog had it not been for your blog entry. It subsequently caused an hour long read of all the entries you listed and three reviews in mainstream press (Times, Guardian, Independent).

I'm now very glad I didn't find myself in front of the TV for this, and I won't be watching. It's not made for people like me.

I will say though, we live in an age where the grieving are given significant prominence in media, in opinion, even in government as advisors.
My local news (BBC) has nightly 'grief' slots; a visit to the greiving mother of soldier, the family of a drink driving victim. Personal belongings shown on camera, old photos, film.
Views are sought, rage induced. Stick the camera in the face of a war widow and the media can feast on the anti-war views, the viewers can feel the pain and anguish.

What's happening in this film is the same thing, only this time it's someone on the other side of the camera who is grieving.

The views are rarely rational, if ever. The film serves only to reinforce the opinions formed through the process of trying to find an explanation, to find someone to blame.

Another thing we hear so much; "someone must be accountable". Someone must be sacked, jailed, made to suffer for our loss. And in this case it's the MH services.

If anything he's damaged his 'cause'; increasing prejudice increases the risk of those who need it most not seeking out and getting the help they need.

My views anyway, I could go on. We're intelligent enough to know this is just feeding the mob.

David said...

Thanks Morte. The Grief Slot. Gawd. If they just combined it with Wheel of Fortune and Peter Snow's Swingometer, then they'll be onto a new prime-time winner.

K just pointed out that what really annoyed her was that the programme tended to reinforce notions of normality by camera shots of sunlit, chocolate box England, flags fluttering, etc. More 'we' are normal, 'they' are evil/dangerous/subhuman etc.

And as for the music... which way to the vomitorium...

aethelreadtheunread said...

Great review. It won't surprise you to hear that i agree with all your points. :o)

Pandora said...

Excellent review, D. Your point about "any large group of people" was something that my partner A and I had discussed in the wake of my own review. What if such a programme had been made about ethnic minorities, minority religions, minority sexualities committing murders? There would have been public outcry - and quite rightly. But why should they get away with this?

Some people kill others. Some of those killers are mentally ill. Some aren't. Some are white. Some are black. Some are Asian. Some are straight, some are gay. Some are religious, some aren't.

Murders happen. I feel genuine sympathy for the family and friends of all victims, but you can't blame an entire social demographic for a few instances.

Take care


Mossy Mom said...

Cute kids!