Thursday 13 May 2010

Sorry, I don't find it funny!

Why is it when a film depicts a character going into a shop or supermarket, that person inevitably does a bit of shoplifting? Moreover, in every case the deed is portrayed as something we should chuckle or laugh out loud at, or even applaud when the thief manages to leave without being detected or escapes a following pursuit. I grimace when I hear the audience give the 'desired' reaction, equivalent to "Ha ha, what a lark! How cool!" Don't they and the film-makers ever entertain the thought that thieving is wrong? I'm prepared to accept that there may be life-and-death situations where robbery is the only means to prevent starvation, but this is hardly ever or never the case in films. At the risk of sounding really goody-goody, I've never in my life stolen any article, certainly not from shops, not even in the days of fooling around as a kid. Could this be one of the positive results of having had a rigid Catholic education? Maybe, but I doubt it - in the U.K. Roman Catholics represent a disproportionately high percentage of the prison population, and have done so for decades.
I raise the subject because I've just seen an otherwise rather good new Australian film, 'Samson & Delilah', which includes such a scene. In fact the only single film I can recall off the top of my head where shoplifting was depicted as undesirable, was in another Aussie film, 'Muriel's Wedding', when Muriel's mother, beset with mental health problems, absent-mindedly takes an item from a shelf without paying for it. She is nabbed but returned to her home by the police, excused on this occasion when her mental problems become evident. But she is portrayed as a rather pathetic and tragic figure, a far cry from the 'bravado' of a gutsy 'true heroically successful thief.
Maybe I'm just a reactionary fuddy-duddy, and stealing is nowadays regarded as a bit of harmless fun. But nevertheless it does disturb me that others think the whole subject is so light-hearted it can be simply laughed off. Or is it a case of me not 'changing with the times'?


  1. I've always considered stealing just plain wrong. In today's times, it is considered okay to steal as long as it is from a business or a corporation. Nevermind the fact that the storeowner has to sruggle to pay his bills just like most of us. I've witnessed this demonstrated in other ways: E.G. people in a restaurant who, after eating a large meal, complain that the food wasn't up to their standards and demand that it be taken off the bill. I'm sure you can think of other ways people steal. I think, although you may disagree with me, that it is the sense of entitlement that is so prevalant today.

  2. It is VERY disturbing, this trend towards presenting stealing, violence, dishonesty and disrespect as cool and hip. I am ashamed to admit, as a teenager, I once stole something from a store, something I convinced myself I had good reason to do at the time. Never the less, I retroactively realized how wrong it was and felt great guilt and shame and have never done it again. I agree that when I see or hear of people stealing other people's property as if they have some kind of right or entitlement to do so, or that it's a harmless crime, it turns my stomach. good for you for calling a crime a crime and expressign your distatse for it. I knew I liked you for a reason.

    Now, what time does your flight get in? My birthday party starts at 6:00 pm saturday, but given the distance you need to travel, I'll overlook it if you're a little early or a little late :-)

  3. Paul, I DO agree with you entirely. Even stealing things from other people like their 'time', when they don't make the effort to be at an appointed place at the pre-arranged hour, riles me. Another 'time-steal' is when people crossing the road (and I regret to say it's usually women - maybe it's the different way female brains operate) press for a green light to cross when they don't look first to ascertain if there's traffic coming - and when they see that there isn't any they cross before the green light comes on leaving traffic queuing up for nothing, having stolen all those drivers' times. Ooooh, it's getting me mad all over again! Yes, storekeepers, most especially small individual ones, also have to earn their means to live, but there seems to be a prevailing attitude that "Well, they can afford it" which is hardly the point. It's just plain WRONG!
    Wonderboy - I really think that activities like your previous misdemeanour(s) is actually shared by the majority, and I wouldn't dare to hold it against you or others - God knows I've had and still have my own faults. (Don't ask!) But I like your confessional style. Now get on your knees before me [ :-) ] - and say one 'Our Father' and three 'Hail Marys'!
    I'm afraid I'm going to miss that flight because (a) my lottery numbers haven't YET come up and (b) all my time is spent on getting my belly down so I can send you an 'Undie Monday' pic for your birthday instalment. (I've already chosen the underpants.) But, boy oh boy, I wish I could be there on Sat. I hope you and Clyde will understand. Do have an absolute FAB time - and we demand to see the evidence of it. But as for my attendance, next year perhaps? No, let's make it a firm date, right? (Finances permitting!)

  4. Just have to tell you that I totally agree with your response to my comment. You carried it further, which is what I wanted to do. I consider this a bonus post. The possibility of your being in my area for Wonderboy's birthday next year is exciting. Hope it comes true.

  5. Thanks, Paul - but I regret to inform you that my talk of attending Sean's b/day next year was very much tongue-in-cheek. Sorry the playful language obfuscated what I was trying to say. I can tell you that it's actually now 19 years since I've been able to afford any holiday at all, even elsewhere within England. Still, stranger things have happened! (Nevertheless, your warm thoughts are very much appreciated.)

  6. I have to admit that one of my favorite films is Arthur with Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. There was a shoplifting scene in it that was treating the subject very lightly, but Liza stole a tie for her father's birthday, was caught, and Dudley fell in love. I'm not saying it was ok, but it was funny. John Guilgood comments, "One usually has to go to bowling alley to meet someone of your caliber."