Louis Theroux Law And Disorder In Philadelphia

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.

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4 Responses to Louis Theroux Law And Disorder In Philadelphia

  1. Chalky December 6, 2008 at 9:22 am #

    I watched this documentary a few days ago, and found myself thinking about it for quite a while afterwards.

    Must have been hard for that cop who grew up in the area and knew some of the addicts since they were kids. And that lady who lost her sister and got shot herself. Even though she was obviously wrapped up in lots of problems etc, she must have had bags of bravery to stand up to the killers.

    I felt saddened watching the dead bodies and the live bodies hanging around on junk – that poor lost woman who said she didn’t want to go home in case she was beaten and she earnt money for hits (which she needed every couple of hours) through selling her body :( The problems are so complicated.

    I would probably last about 0.1 nano seconds in that area so I take my hat off to LT, he did look pretty frightened though!

    Have you ever watched the HBO series The Wire?

  2. anikainlondon December 6, 2008 at 1:41 pm #

    Yeah, that lady whose sister was shot made me especially sad. And that addict who gets beaten, I felt so sad for her. With alot of the people in the documentary it seemed like they are good enough people who’ve just gotten trapped in a bad life/fallen in with the wrong crowd. Alot of them have such restricted life chances right from the get go. Like with that guy who was my age, I think his name was Tone, who got shot and died and it showed his sister crying in the street. Then at the end of the documentary when Louis talks to his grandma and she says that she doesn’t think his mother ever loved him, that made me so sad.

    And no I’ve never watched the Wire, is it good? I don’t really watch any TV anymore. Whenever I go home there’s never anything on apart from Come Dine With Me…… which is awful but I can’t help but watch!

  3. Chalky December 6, 2008 at 4:05 pm #

    The Wire is probably one of the best HBO series I have seen, pretty gritty, well acted, very well directed and totally addictive once you’ve watched a few episodes!

  4. Daniel December 10, 2008 at 3:56 pm #

    Hi Anika,

    I’ve gone a bit mad for Louis Theroux at the moment, the Jo’berg documentary was amazing. He has some nerve that chap. Philadelphia looks like a terrifying place, though that was only one part of it.

    Keep up the good work on the blog!


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