Louis Theroux is without a doubt the best broadcaster around today. I just watched his most recent documentary Law And Disorder In Philadelpia, which can be seen on BBC iPlayer.
Louis’ latest programme sees him spending time with the Philadelphia Police Department. As always Louis uses his faux naivity to enduce fascinating responses and comments from the people he meets. This particular documentary was especially harrowing and thought provoking. I also found it to be quite scary; you see people dying, but the Philadelphia Police see it so often they are unphased. It’s really sad. It also makes me reflect about the sheltered life I have led, where I don’t come across knives and guns and drugs, like the people on the ‘corners’ in the documentary do on a daily basis.
I also think it’s quite hard to comprehend what it really must be like to live in a place like that. I mean, London has some rough areas, but I’ve never seen anything that bad. Maybe it’s because guns aren’t as big of a problem here as they are in the States. Thankfully. While watching the documentary it reminded me of the sociological theory developed by Wilson and Kelling, broken windows theory. The theory proposes that if an area starts to visually deteriorate (ie broken windows, graffiti) then crime will develop. I’ve always agreed with this theory, you only need to watch the documentary to see the state of those streets. The residents are living in such deprived areas, they have nothing to do. The theory says that once an area starts deteriorating the people who can afford to move away will, which leaves the poorest in the community to stay. This in turn means the area begins to be characterised by unemployment and begins to develop a negative reputation. It gets stuck in a rut basically.
The Police in the documentary seem super aggressive, swearing and shouting and pulling guns on people. I don’t blame them, if you anticipate that someone might shoot you then you’d probably do what you can to stop it. But this is the problem with guns, they’re so fast. There’s no time to talk or anything. I think it’s a good thing that most police over here don’t carry guns. A few months ago I was in Eastbourne and we saw some police with guns. It was like ‘woaaaaah, those policemen have GUNS!!!’. It was so out of the ordinary. Especially in Eastbourne, the quiet seaside town, who are they going to need guns for- those riotous old ladies in the marina? No.
To conclude, Louis Theroux is great. He has another documentary on soon, Law and Disorder in Johannesburg.