Had an Underbelly full

Without even trying, much of the Australian population will have noticed the current spree of crime-related shows, hitting our screens (a ‘crime-spree’ of sorts?).  With the success of the first Underbelly series (which im sure you didnt know is produced in the Uk – as with the current series) some clever dicks have realised that ‘Australian crime’ and ‘Australian criminals’ are a commodity.

Sure, we’ve got some ‘characters’ – most notably Mark ‘Chopper’ Reid, a notorious, psychotic, extremely intelligent, articulate and creative, funny-man-murderer – but do they really amount to the current, sudden obsession with putting them and their stories on television?

There was once a story of an Italian Mafia don who got caught and sent to jail.  Desperate to escape a life sentence, he and some of his closest partners hatched a daring plan.  Upon receiving a packet of cigarettes in the mail, the Don soaked the contents in a cup of water, and drank the water.  After ingesting an entire packet of cigarette’s worth of nicotene, he was soon found unconcious on the floor of his cell, suffering a cardiac arrest.  We drink beers – big full-strength ones – through funnels.

Rushed to hospital, he was then stolen at gunpoint (from the ambulance crew) by a few of his willing henchmen, taken to a safehouse, and nursed from his perilous position near death, back to full health and another 10 years on the run.

In Australia, we have Karl Williams.  Who – with all the nouse, courage, intelligence and maturity of a power-hungry,  fearful toddler – cold-heartedly ordered the murder of dozens of people who may or may not have been out to get him, fuelled by a drug-induced, paranoid rage.  He was eventually caught, and jailed, and most recently beaten to death with an exercise bike.

And amidst all the blood and swearing, someone saw a bandwagon.  Someone thought ‘the Australian public will love this!’  glorifying of our illustrious ‘crime syndicates’ – never mind the fact that all these ‘great Australian crime families’ (im sure there’s a series with this title being aired soon?) are simply opportunistic and unscrupulous business-people, without the intelligence and above all, will, to do legitimate, honest business.

– Just play some dramatic music, get a few ‘experts in’ (corrupt police officers who know all these boys well, people who have lived in Sydney – millions of them – someone who’s taken drugs before, a publican at a bar that these’ crime syndicates’ used to meet at  and a suitable second generation Greek or Italian-like person, who seems like he has the ability to connect with his subjects, while giving background info and overgesticulating when talking, and staring piercingly and at length, down camera barrels to present the show) insert an overt amount of sex-scenes, and it’ll look like the most dramatic tv show our shores have produced since Water Rats.

Im not quite sure what the fascination is (can you tell)?  – Our criminals have very little to be proud of, and we have very little with which to be proud of them – or interested, if that’s ur arguement for watching (obsessing over, even) these television shows.

In Europe, crime bosses and moreso, mafia Dons have to be born into the ‘crime family’.  They are honourable, respectful and often super-intelligent, though shrewd businessmen.  Their crimes and achievements span years and generations, and some of them are even prominent public figures, with almost endless spheres of influence.

In Australia, our equivalent criminals are anything but honourable and respectful, and more like fat, gluttonous, coke-heads, who just happened to be selling the most drugs at the time, paying off the most people, and throwing around the most weight – literally.  Throw in a bit of good old Aussie ‘blood, sweat and beers’ and you’ve got all the elements that go into making a successful Australian television series, to the acclaim of a small-headed and bored Australian audience.

Maybe its just a measure of how rubbish Australian tv really is?  – ‘But this stuff was happening in our own backyard!’ i hear you say.  Surely our wildlife is more interesting?  And far more intelligent.

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