Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Gunboats and movies

Published:Thursday | November 5, 2015 | 11:00 AMMel Cooke
In this image released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions, Daniel Craig appears in a scene from the James Bond film, 'SPECTRE'.
Bounty Killer
Little Hero
1
2
3

"Don't blame my people for the guns in the ghetto

A yu bring dem dung deh, bring dem dung deh

Yes these guns my people use to take the life of one another

A yu bring dem dung deh, bring dem dung deh

We no have no Smith and Wesson gun factory in the ghetto..."

- Guns in the Ghetto by Morgan Heritage and Bounty Killer

"No gun no make dung deh

Dung inna di ghetto

A Babylon sen' dem dung deh

An now gunshot start echo"

- Inna di Ghetto by Little Hero

I have reason to go past the Police Commissioner's Office on Old Hope Road, St Andrew, regularly, and also go into the nearby Sovereign Centre, Liguanea, all too often. Currently, there are a number of boats on the grounds of the former, and from time to time, the illuminated promo signage for the Palace Cineplex at Sovereign pushes the latest action movie.

There is a connection between the boats, a gift from the United States (US) government, and the Hollywood fare which is the staple on the Palace Amusement circuit and cable television programming available to us. And there is another link as well, to the current Jamaica Constabulary Force Get the Guns campaign.

At its crudest level of connection, Hollywood pumps out movies glorifying the possession and use of guns, cultivating and sustaining desire for the weapons, and the gun manufacturers satisfy this demand. The governments of countries where guns are manufactured, including the US, do precious little to stop the outflow of weapons to poorer countries like Jamaica at the source, instead choosing to hand over a few boats which might help intercept a few illegal shipments, but certainly not all.

Get the Guns

Then the police come up with dramatically named initiatives like Get the Guns, scrape up a number of illegal weapons (currently heading up to 100), which are restocked soon enough, and the cycle continues.

Of course, the situation is a lot more intricate and sophisticated than that, but there is a link between tools to stop the guns (like the vessels at the Commissioner's Office that I call gunboats, which is not quite correct) and the celebration of gun culture on screen. It is not all that Hollywood and the many movie-making countries of varying scales puts out, but it is enough to make an impact.

Take, for example, the James Bond franchise, with the character created in Jamaica by Ian Fleming at its heart. The latest instalment, Spectre, is being given the usual high publicity, along with its Heineken connection. Central to James Bond is 'badmanism', 'gallism' and liquor-drinking - not very different from my favourite Jamaican movie, Shottas. But I suspect that most of us are fooled by the difference in accents between Roger Moore (the best Bond) and Spragga Benz into believing that they are vastly differing characters.

There is a Hollywood culture that celebrates the violence upon which the United States as we now know it, was founded, a culture with which Barack Obama is wrestling (to extremely limited success) and facilitates the mass manufacture and sale of weapons, some of which end up on a fast boat coming into Jamaica. And it is now that same society which hands over a few boats for men with guns to try to prevent other men with guns from carrying in guns to deploy to criminals.

It really is a circle.

Of course, the US is not alone in manufacturing weapons, and the movies which celebrate their use. Neither are they alone in founding a society on brutality. But their movie fare is what inundates us - and, I suspect, it is their guns which, in the main, end up contributing to Jamaica's horrendous murder rate.

So, here we are, with boats on a lawn and James Bond on the screen, hoping to get the guns. Good luck.

melville.cooke@gleanerjm.com