Sunday, 1 June 2008

Glorifying gangsters a crime, say critics

Infamous ... Carl Williams.

THE hit television show Underbelly has turned the gangsters it is based on into cult stars - but community leaders say the glorification of crime has gone too far.

"Gangster chic" means killer Carl Williams is overwhelmed with mail in his cell at Barwon Prison in Victoria and has the maximum 5000 friends signed to his Facebook page.

NSW shadow police minister Mike Gallacher said: "Carl Williams has been portrayed as a likeable dope, when the reality is this guy is a dangerous, ruthless killer. These people were involved in a drug trade that has ruined countless lives.

"I just cannot believe that the producers of programs would now reward these sort of people with glorification and guest appearances on TV."

Williams's wife, Roberta, last week was signed up by Sydney shock jock Kyle Sandilands's talent agency with the promise of a reality TV show contract.

Until her husband's exploits in the Melbourne underworld were celebrated on Channel Nine's Underbelly she was the wife of a convicted killer. Now she is a star.

NSW Police Minister David Campbell said yesterday: "I am certain in my belief that no one should profit from their crimes."

Williams may not be profiting from the four murders for which he was jailed, but plenty of people are - including his wife, who now takes people on guided tours of Melbourne's gangland - and the people selling "I roll with Carl" T-shirts on eBay.

While they take the profits, many are warning that it is Australian society and its children who are paying the price.

NSW Teachers Federation president Maree O'Halloran, said: "Before we had heroes like John Wayne and Star Wars who did good things, but now we seem to celebrate the wrong-doers."

Criminals glorified in the Underbelly series, such as Mick Gatto and Tony Mokbel, have earnt the kind of notoriety normally accorded minor celebrities.

"If the source of someone's celebrity comes from criminal activity then to reward them for that does fly in the face of what we should do as a society," said Dr Simon Longstaff, executive director of St James Ethics Centre.

"A society that values the baubles of celebrity more than the substance of character is hardly one that is worthy of admiration.

"When drama is based on reality and is giving the impression that a life of crime is something to be admired, then I think there are problems. It is glorifying something that is wrong."

The feelings of victims and their families are in danger of being ignored as scriptwriters rush to cash in on television's true-crime wave. Similar dramatisations are planned.

Peter Rolfe, president of the Homicide Survivors After Murder Group, said: "Our problem with a series like Underbelly is that there is no thought for the victims or their families.

"Shows like this add to the distress of the victims by glorifying the actions of the criminals.

"This encourages copycat situations and it simply should not be done.

"It is a sad state of affairs when the glorification of criminals and their activities has become a business."

Quote: NSW Police Minister David Campbell said, quote: "he was certain in his belief that no one should profit from their crimes." Unquote: Yet why is it is okay for corporations to profit from others crimes? Seems media fabrication, sensationalism and down right lies don't speak the real truth anyway. So what's the point? M.O.N.E.Y. $$$$$$$$. Maree O'Halloran forgot to mention that John Wayne shot people, a lethal meme. Hardly a hero. Dr Simon Longstaff managed to duck and weave Ned Kelly and the gang? Australian folk heroes. Glorifying something that is wrong? What about war criminals and the illegal and degrading wars on Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan? Fact is people who make a mistake ought to be able to tell their stories so that others learn about those mistakes and can then avoid making the same mistakes, that's common sense. Less of those stories will be made available to the general public if no one will pay for them. No doubt! Why should prisoners work for free? Considering most of them have lost everything too accept some of the high flyers and corporate criminals like Alan Bond. Rich surprise: Alan Bond bounces back.


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