Overwhelmingly, the impression I got from this film is that the trouble with the girls who were the subjects of the film, Shona and Abbie, is that they are the sub-class that is dragging this country into the gutter and leaving it to die there.
They’re career criminals, as young as they are, and expend a great deal of energy in committing petty crimes. Petty that is unless you’re on the receiving end of their crimes. If they put as much energy and thought into getting a job as they do actively avoiding one, most of their ‘problems’ would be solved.
Abbie who’s 17 and Shona who’s 20 – though filmmaker Jo Hughes sounded like she was saying “Shauna” but the copy says, “Shona” – are poster girls for everything that’s loathable about Britain today. They’re arrogant, they’re aggressive, they have no respect for anyone or anything and believe it’s their right to have, have and have some more, without having to lift a finger – other than a light one – to achieve gain.
And what’s worse is, they’re proud of it. These girls are the chavs who haunt street corners up and down the country making everyone else’s life a misery. These are girls for whom an ASBO or a prison sentence is something to be proud of; a badge that says “F*** you” to the rest of the world.
One thing that I was quite surprised about in last night’s film is that Jo Hughes, the aforementioned filmmaker, while not offering bias or judgement on the girls, did seem to be leaning towards some sympathy for them. She seemed also to quite like them. And I can’t begin to imagine why. Both girls are repulsive scum and unfortunately, by following them around with a camera crew, gave their already falsely inflated egos a tremendous boost. It made them feel important, and they’re about as important as dog faeces. They also should be treated as such.
Hughes did attempt to address their behaviours at times though. For instance, she asked Abbie and her friend Lauren – who was equally as obnoxious – if they thought it was right to shoplift. Abbie said no, but both then said that they’re forced to do it because their benefits, of £90 per fortnight are usually gone within three days or less if they have a good night out.
Doesn’t that just make your heart bleed? Clearly, we aren’t funding these girls properly. We should give them at least a few hundred pounds a week so that they can drink and smoke at will, without having to do anything like that four letter word that’s so alien to them, WORK. That would never do. Let’s stop being so generous to pensioners – after all, do they really need to be warm in winter? – and concentrate our money on them, thereby enabling the legal procurement of Special Brew, immensely large earrings and tracksuits with hoods.
But then of course, we must understand that their lives have been blighted. Shona, leaning on a tree, did an extensive and heartfelt monologue to the camera during which she discussed the fact her father had left home when she was a child and how, according to her, that had been the lighting of the blue touch paper that signalled her life exploding off into criminal realms… My father died when I was 11, but I never once felt the need to shoplift because of it.
And poor Abbie is from a broken home too and to be fair, she has a father who’s about as much use in a parental sense as a chocolate fireguard.
“I can’t say to her, y’know, you’re not allowed to stay out ‘til four in the morning and then I roll in at four in the morning. Y’know, how fair’s that?” he told Hughes.
What he clearly has failed to note is that a) he apparently works and is therefore entitled to spend his money how he wishes and b) he’s an adult and consequently should utilise the point of the expression, “do as I say, not as I do” on his child, given that in theory, he’s mentally, emotionally and physically capable of making decisions that are afforded to adults and not children.
During filming, both girls were facing prison sentences but both also said they’d like to change their ways and get jobs. For Shona, this entailed spending one morning going to two job interviews, dressed in the uniform of tracksuit and trainers, then becoming discouraged when someone didn’t instantly hand her what she wanted.
“What’s the point? It’s a load of s**t. I don’t wanna do it no more to tell you the truth, I don’t even want a job. What’s the point? It’s a f***ing load of s**t”
Well, it’s understandable that she’d just abandon that whole getting a job thing when she’d spend a whole morning trying and failing to get one.
However, she did have some words for the police about their jobs when she saw a passing squad car…
“Look at them piggy basta***. No need, no f***in’ need. You dirty basta***, gerra proper job!”
I can only assume the “proper job” she talked of was one of the many she’d had? There was the few months spent in the canteen in prison for instance or her full time job of shoplifting. Truly inspirational careers that the police would do well to note are much better jobs than theirs.
The film ended with some moving incidental music and hearing that Abbie had been discharged of all orders by the court, so she was now “free” to do what she wanted. What she wanted was a holiday, and again, understandably after all that hard work and endless hours spent stealing and drinking. It’s not as easy as it looks you know.
For Shona, the final moments of the film saw her back in prison and reciting poetry that she’d written. All very touching and all totally empty gestures. These girls won’t change. Instead, they’ll simply pass on their knowledge of crime to the probably several kids they’ll have by several different fathers while living in a council flat on benefits and bemoaning their lot when they can’t buy the latest Nike trainers or as much dope as they’d like to have.
Has society failed them as was implied in the subtext of this film? No I don’t believe so. What society has done is make it easy for bone idle layabouts to live off the state while those genuinely in need are treated with suspicion and forced to live on the bread line.
They are abusers of society, not victims. Victims are people like pensioners who fought a war for this country and are now terrified to put their gas fires on. Victims are the sales assistants threatened with knives as they’re trying to go about their working lives. Victims are soldiers who were crippled in Iraq or Afghanistan and must now fight for every penny of government help. Victims are the millions of us who have been burgled or mugged so that pieces of sh** like these girls can get their next fix or their next crate of booze.
It’s time the bleeding heart liberals of this world took a stance against apologising profusely to girls like these and said, “Actually, you don’t have to live like this. You just like it.”
Make films instead about people dying because the government can’t or won’t fund cancer research, or make them about pretty much any other worthy cause or person that needs public sympathy. By making a film of these girls and their lives, it’s only glamorising them and their choices. For choices they are, no matter how much they might try to excuse themselves by blaming society.