Republican News · Thursday 19 November 1998

[An Phoblacht]

Down with Hades

  • Basketball Diaries (RTE)
  • Leon (BBC)
  • The Jump (RTE)
  • Cutting Edge (Channel 4)
  • The Simpsons (SKY/BBC2)

Someone left a cigarette butt in the bottom of the teacup last night, which adds to the general air of depression that hovers over me on a miserably cold and wet midweek morning.

Christmas is too far away to get excited about, there's a leak in the roof at work which has developed into a little stream which meanders as far as my feet. And the mice are besieging the portacabins in a bid to escape the frost.

This perdition was compounded by the weekend's TV, which included drug addiction, murder, paedophilia and prostitution.

``Basketball Diaries'' (RTE) a real life flick based on the diaries of sixteen year old Jim Carroll, was a dismally realistic insight into the world of young delinquents and the vulnerable position they are placed in by society, in this case New York.

Jim and his comrades spend their days diving off cliffs, sticking bangers in old ladies letterboxes, getting the ball in the hoop, and snoring their way through a Catholic high school, which includes the by now cliched pervert carer.

With little prospects and even less love or comradeship to be found outside their gang, Carroll slithers into an underworld of heroin needles, pushers, pimps and general no goods, who pass their time urinating in their trousers, robbing cars and old ladies' handbags and sleeping in slums.

After much low-lifeing and squalor our hero salvages his life in time to become a well known author and playwright, leaving us staring into the abyss of so many young lives devoid of love or opportunity.

This was the case with young Matilda, daughter of drug dealing abusive parents, whose family are murdered by even nastier folk, finding some solace in the arms of an illiterate Sicilian hitman,''Leon'' on Sunday last. This is a true story of love, devoid of any sinister overtones, with blood and guts galore for the less romantic potatoes.

Leon, as all assassins do, comes to a messy end, but not before eliminating half of the local police force and all its rotten apples, and exclaiming his love for young Matilda. A well portrayed movie, recommended for those of you energetic enough to make it past the offy to Xtra Vision on a pissy November night.

Republicans will be well used to jumps with everyone from De Valera to Fitzy having a go, be it out of a hospital window, down a drainpipe, through a tunnel or dressed in a skirt, or with Pearse and Nessan's magic runners!

Donna (or was it Fanny Adams) was busy organising an escape route for her hubby on the RTE drama, ``The Jump'', until she discovers his seedier side which ultimately leads her to a shady warehouse, dealing in paedophiliac videos. There she is seized by her brother-in-law, who is on the point of doing all sorts of nasty things to her, when at the last minute, prince charming in a black polo neck and leathers saves the day. Unfortunately for Fanny it is now too late to change her mind and we await the return of the slimy toad - tune in!.

There were old toads aplenty over on Channel 4's ``Cutting Edge'', all spending their 50th birthday together, musing about life, and all de-liy-red and ex-ciy-red that their birthday was on the same day as bonny prince Charlie - sad really.

There was Jives, whose earliest memory was being asked to raise the Union Jack at five. He opined that a bloody good hiding was no harm at all. Then there was Colin the Freemason, and George the Judge, who was worried that ``too much equality for women might not be a good thing for society''.

The only character worthy of note was wheelchair bound Robin, who was born with Cerebal Palsy after his mother's umbilical cord got caught around his neck at childbirth, sometimes wondering if he would have been better off ``been born brain dead because this would be easy to accept - I fucking hate this''.

In an angry mode he rails about ``being trapped in a useless body, sometimes slipping into uncontrollable temper tantrums at the frustration'', particularly due to lack of communication during childhood.

Solace is found in wife Jill, twenty four hour care and a desire ``to define my own routine''. He sees in fifty year old men wrinkled faces with boring lives, unchanged attitudes and double chins, who think of sex every thirty seconds - I thought that was all men!

There's always plenty of wrinklies to be found on a yankee tour bus, particularly the ones that come to Ireh-lande, with green trousers, blue hair and twenty five cameras, looking for the folks at the homestead and burning out the clutch, if Hertz are stupid enough to give them a car with gears.

Some might say the ``revolutionary tourists'' are worse, as featured on UTV's ``As Others See Us''. While working in Conway Mill I recall the foreigners who came in search of poverty and a good snap of a soldier with a gun.

I remember one individual who thanked me for walking him through the Markets area in Belfast, as he had been stopped and searched by the RUC, and now had, ``a good tale''. The yanks on this particular coach journey were a mixture of the above, exclaiming, ``I'm worried about the aggressive tactics in the murals... they have such animosity in them when they beat those drums... why can't the Catholics and Protestants just love each other?... that folk museum is really gross... you Belfast guys are just awesome... why can't they just go and have a pop together?... I think I support the Protestants, aren't they the IRA?... it kinda looks like Hawaii.''.

There's much more sanity to be seen in ``The Simpsons'', in particular Bart, who would have fitted in well at the fiftysomethings party, this week joining the local Freemasons and Communist Party on the same day.

While it can be strongly argued that this is not family viewing, much of the humour is beyond the children and the show is a clear parody of middle America and all its hypocrisies - which can just as easily be applied to Ireland, as we continue our descent into the Hades world of junk culture.

By Seán O Donaile

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