Archive for the ‘the wire’ Tag

Where the Social Bandits Gone?

Some 70 years ago, Michael Curtiz got all the Technicolor cameras in existence to make The Adventures of Robin Hood.

The US had just been hit by a second wave of recession in its Great Depression.

Movies matter in a recession. Stories and big, bold escapes.

The Adventures of Robin Hood Trailer by hollywoodclassics on YouTube.

Whichever version of Robin Hood folklore you follow, two things seem to be broadly accepted:

1. He robbed from the rich and gave to the poor (i.e. he was an outlaw).

2. He was a common man – a regular Joe.

corisco duelo-de-gigantes1

Cordel literature found in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazilian folklore has its own, more recent Robin Hood.

The most legendary bandit (cangaçeiro) was Lampião. He was shot dead in 1938. The same year The Adventures of Robin Hood came out on general release.

He was not a clear-cut hero. He was often violent and perverse, as accounts in film and literature have shown:

“He used to put a man’s nuts in a drawer, lock it, throw the key out and set fire to the house. Not without first leaving a knife within reach of the wretch. The way I see it, it’s better to burn to death than to lose your nuts.”

Sergeant Getulio (1971) by João Ibaldo Ribeiro.

Lampião in Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (1964) – Dir. Glauber Rocha.

Just as the desperate north eastern climes of Brazil spawned its own Robin Hood, national interest in the tales of Lampião peak during times of economic trouble.

Artists, writers and filmmakers of the 1960s lavished him with attention.

But today?

Today in London there will be riots outside the Bank of England. There’s growing malaise in most corners of the world.

So I ask: where’s the social bandit gone?

The Wire (Season 1): Omar – “It’s all in the game” by hoodpolitics.

You could argue that Omar Little in The Wire represents a new form of fictional Robin Hood.

He robs drug dealers in a city (Baltimore) where 10% of landowners possess 58% of the land value; and the bottom 10% own less than 1%.

Can we call that social banditry?

If not, who are the Robin Hoods in today’s global meltdown?

And who would they even loot?