Cities in the UK are riot zones. One man has died. There is talk of bringing in the troops, with echoes of The Troubles. But at least we have Tumblr to try and save the day!
Catch a Looter is one of the weirdest tumblrs I have ever seen. And I have seen some weird tumblrs. It is ostensibly, a site to collect and collate photographic evidence of young people looting shops in London, with a view to helping the police with their enquiries. But it looks like most other tumblr sites do: it looks like a mediated vision of metrosexuality.
Look at the photo above. In amongst the violence a sharp young man in a hoodie and a bandana checks out a pair of jeans to see if they are the right size, the right brand, the right look. And beside him, stands an incongruous figure, a white preppy boy in chinos and deck shoes, as if he has been transported from another hipster tumblr, into the fray.
I consider ‘To Catch A looter’ to be ‘concern porn’. We look at the images and make ourselves feel better as if our contemporary need for voyeurism is somehow doing ‘good’, because we care. Because if we see any of these (mainly black, mainly male) youths, we will rush to phone Crimestoppers and ease our conscience. But we are enjoying looking anyway. I have seen people circulating a photo on twitter, of someone robbing a man while he lies on the ground, bleeding. I didn’t click on the link. But lots of ‘concerned’ people did.
I also consider the site to be racist. Here, some black lads are photographed, not looting, not hurting anyone, but just getting off a bus. I have been told by a friend that some black young men are wearing their bandanas in their home areas to prove they are from that ‘manor’. Different styles/colours represent different areas/estates. They wear them to avoid getting beaten up, especially by someone who thinks they aren’t from ’round here’. These kids are scared and anxious and yes, angry. And some of them are looting shops and being violent. But many are not. So ‘Catch a Looter’ just seems to be adding fuel to the fires as far as I can see. But you know, if you want something to look at, knock yourselves out.