Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Of Bent British Coppers** and Life on Mars

Life on Mars - Sam Tyler (John Simm) in the centre
Back in 2008, I blogged about my  fascination with the UK TV series Life on Mars. Quick recap:  The year is 2006 and the setting is Manchester where a high-ranking police officer (Sam Tyler) gets hit by a car while listening to the David Bowie classic Life on Mars? (great song, horrible hair and a pastel blue suit? what was David Bowie thinking back in the early 70s?). Anyway, Sam Tyler wakes up in Manchester in 1973, is he in a coma? Has he traveled back in time? He is completely clueless and so are we.

So Sam Tyler is stuck in a 1973 nightmare without the internet, mobile phones or computers. He is also forced to put up with dinosaur police colleagues who are sexist, racist and smoke too much. The best character on the show is Sam's whiskey-swigging wise-cracking boss from hell Gene Hunt; an expert at making sexist comments, planting evidence, carrying out grievous bodily harm and of course taking bribes. Since Sam comes from 2006 where all policing is followed strictly by the book, he feels like he "landed on another planet" [part of the show's tagline],

Modern British policing all strictly by the book? Hahaha!  The recent phone-hacking scandal in the UK revealed (among other things), that journalists bribed several police officers over an extended period of time in order to get information about criminal investigations. As appalled as I was about the revelations, the fact that policemen in a model western democracy took bribes gives me ample satisfaction. Why? Well, over the years, us in the [so-called] Third World have been preached to, patronized, and admonished by the West about our weak and corrupt institutions. Turns out people who live in glass houses.....

However, I cannot be rubbing my hands with glee for too long. One thing I know is that once the problem has been identified in the UK, swift corrective action will follow. Indeed, as I type, heads have already started rolling. Alas, that is the difference between our part of the world and the West. On a few occasions, we actually identify the rot but we are either slow to act or choose to ignore the problem for various reasons. So in the end who gets the last laugh?

By the way, someone better tell Sam Tyler that he may be better off staying put in 1973. After all,   things may not have changed that much between then and now. 

**Bent British Coppers= Corrupt British Police officers


Think-About-It said...

Yep! They live in glass houses AND throw stones. (I like that).
I have wondered about the difference between our approach towards corruption and that of the western world.
Maybe we don't rush to eliminate the bad nuts that get caught because we are realistic and know there are many more bad nuts in the bunch.
When someone gets busted for corruption in the west, they act like it is totally unheard. The busted one ends up taking a big fall for the team.
Hypocrisy at its best, but it paints a beautiful picture.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Think-About-It You make a very good point. Perhaps the powers see that the system is rotten to the core and that you might as well throw away the whole apple! I sometimes wonder if our leader feel completely overwhelmed by some of our non-functioning systems and find stop-gap measures easier than solve real problems....hmmm I'm thinking about it!

Maya Mame said...

You're so right Abena, actions are taken quickly (RIP News of the World).

I'm just loving the quick wit that came with the scandal. Just a few hours into it, several friends had as their Fb status: "Sorry I can't come to the phone, but please leave a voicemail message and News of the World will inform me of it later". :-)

Abena Serwaa said...

OMG @Maya Mame, you made my day with the NOTW FB status quote...sooo funny! Witty humo(u)r rules!

how to become a police officer in UK said...

Corruption is not just limited to developing countries. It is everywhere. However, the degree can be worse in developing countries than in developed countries like UK.

Abena Serwaa said...

Thanks "how to become a police officer in UK" for stopping by. I disagree with you. What are the parameters you are using to make that wide sweeping assertion? In addition, the generalization you are making together makes developing and developed countries heterogeneous. I don't think that is fair or accurate.