Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stolen Fire

Thanks to the Geek for the connection.

A lesson in not responding soon enough to blog ideas - a politician will come along and steal your fire! Johnson - odd looking Mayor of London - has connected a connection which is obvious to make. The Gruniad reports on his appearance before a House of Commons committee on Knife crime and he makes the Romeo and Juliet connection.

Unlike Mr Johnson, who had to explain his link (so much for the education of Members of Parliament - I'd love to know the political colour of the questioner) I'm sure readers of this blog will realise the 'gang' connection in the Capulet and Montague households, and get the poignancy of young life cut short.

Interestingly Mr Johnson then made the point my thoughts had been silently pointing to - the text is worth studying as illustrative of what is happening in places like London where there seems to be an increase in the knife carrying and fighting (although whether there is an actual increase or the media has just decided to bring it to the attention of the public is debatable).

Young people do 'gang' - young people do fight - carrying a weapon when you fight is going to cause more damage and death. Most fights are more about honour and macho-ness than any other lip-serviced reason, and there is great glamour in 'the kill'.

There is terrible social element to this too - the adults in Romeo and Juliet do nothing serious about the issue until the death of loved ones hits home - paralleled in some ways to the present media frenzy inspired by the death, not of any young person, but by the 'tragic' death (as if the others were not a tragedy) of 'respectable' youth.

There is a danger here of ghettoising the stabbers and innocent victimising the stabbed: If only it were that simple.
And, to his credit, I think this is partly what Mr Johnson was getting at -

It is worth studying the text because it does teach you something about the bogus atmosphere of glamour that can surround these gangs and the sort of romantic, sentimental feelings that can start to occur with knife crime and gang culture generally.
(As quoted in the Gruniad)

Emotional reaction is totally understandable (even Lady Capulet's) but not helpful (especially Lady Capulet's).

Where I do differ from Mr Johnson is his claim that Mercutio is actually a glamorous character ... but that will have to wait 'til I get on to Romeo and Juliet proper.

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