Kenitra - It has recently come to the attention of many media critics and researchers that Moroccan local television channels have developed an intriguing interest in reality shows that revolve around crime.
Kenitra – It has recently come to the attention of many media critics and researchers that Moroccan local television channels have developed an intriguing interest in reality shows that revolve around crime.
In fact, one may claim that there has been a fierce competition between local channels to devise the most entertaining and captivating reality shows. Hence, subsequent episodes from “Crime Scene” on Medi1Tv and “the most dangerous criminals” on 2M have gained a raging promotion on our Moroccan television for the past two years. Eventually, “Crime Scene,” due to its weekly broadcast has established a substantial fan base in Morocco.
“Crime scene” is a show that borrows from police investigation reports and files a hybrid range of cases such as fraud, theft, rape and homicide. The premise of the show is to role-play the entire crime and reveal all the intricacies that have led to solving the case at hand. It is, according to the underlying objective of the show, an attempt at alerting and sensitizing the audience to all kinds of crime to which they may fall victim. We may think of this as giving the audience a wake up call, while keeping them entertained at the same time.
According to my personal experience, I had the chance to ask my classes if they watched the show, and I wasn’t actually surprised to find out that almost all students, who were aged between 16 and 18, had watched at least two or three episodes of the show. Moreover, I gathered from a random chat with them that they liked the show because it provided them with what they could only describe as “pleasure” or rather “guilty pleasure”; since the majority of them did not hold back on criticizing the show for some of its major flaws. They believed that a show such as “crime scene” promotes crime in our society by training future criminals and showing them all the ins and outs of a crime scheme. In fact, a few students defined the show as a fundamental “crime school.” However, even after the short discussion, it felt as if I was leading them to those critiques. This made it clear for me that if it hadn’t been for that quick discussion, none of them would have probably questioned what they watched on television. Consequently, one may claim that if we had trained our children and teenagers to question what they receive from the mass media, we would not be having this debate in the first place.
Whether we consider these shows as a negative influence on the public or as a mere entertaining portrayal of what goes wrong in our society, there is no denial that crime in Morocco has been increasing recently. Every day, Moroccan press reveals the most appalling and shocking crimes that eventually do not differ much from what fans of « crime scene » have become accustomed to on their local channel. This has alerted a few sociologists and media critics to declare that there would be a hefty risk of desensitizing society to the cruelty of crime that are becoming way more aggravating and inhumane by all measures.
Perhaps, it is a bit naive to think that the increase of crime rate in Morocco is directly attributed to the influence of these reality shows. However, the assumption that a show like “crime scene” promotes the act of crime is not far-fetched, as the show could on some level be of a fairly adequate service to future crime subjects. An assumption like this could be validated through a set of aspects that the show is keen on portraying. For instance, when a police officer from the show, unconsciously provides successful routes for getting out of a crime scene, or when the criminals themselves state the specific errors responsible for their arrest. One may claim that such revelations are pedagogical crime lessons that could serve to create a more refined version of the previous crimes in the future. Hence, it may all serve in simplifying the learning curve for all criminals out there by providing them with advanced tips on how to weave better schemes for their upcoming projects.
Another symptom of the controversial nature of the show is how it portrays a very cynical and dark picture about Moroccan society. Particularly, when looking at the nature of the crimes that involves masochism and sadism. Hence, the picture grows even darker and more cynical when taking into account the religious background of Morocco. Yet, there is a strong claim that the fundamental role of the media in all its forms is to uncover the reality no matter how vicious or anti-social it might be. Nevertheless, we may not want to fall into the trap of thinking of all these anti-social acts as alien or new to our society. For we cannot assert that such crimes did not exist before, but perhaps capitalizing on them by the media, particularly the press, is the reason behind all the big fuss.
Regardless of all that, the show maintains a very consistent image of the average Moroccan individual, who often happens to be the victim as opposed to the superior master mind that is the criminal. It is often a one-dimensional image of the naive individuals who lend themselves to the schemes of their predators, especially in cases of fraud where the victims undergo all sorts of manipulations without even giving their actions a second thought. On the opposite side of things, this could be the case described as it happened, because the victims did actually get manipulated. However, even such argument falls flat when witnessing the ease by which the criminals exploit and abuse their victims. Nonetheless, one may attribute this to the quality of the acting itself; seeing as almost all actors and actresses who role-play the cases are for the most part non-professionals. Hence, the actors/actresses often fail to deliver a more believable performance by making their victimization a little too cheesy.
On the other hand, the representation of the criminal in “Crime scene” is sometimes if not often glorified, at least during the first half of the episode before the arrest. For instance, the titles of some episodes have underlying messages that may or may not be intended. As an example, there was this episode entitled “The Ninja” referring to a criminal that used to kill and rob people using a few well-mastered Karate moves. We could clearly understand the marketing reason behind choosing such title. Nevertheless, it should also be noticed that this title portrays a heroic image of the criminal which the show is supposedly not trying to convey. However, seeing as the majority of the audience are teenagers- and we know how much the impact “Ninja films” used to have on us when we were kids- the results are bound to be counterproductive. Unfortunately, the marketing decisions can serve as implications for admiring the act of crime through a set of images that bypass the title to create an unintended charismatic profile for the criminal.
Needless to say, the sheer amount of entertainment wrapped up within a show like “crime scene” can only be challenged by detective and thriller movies. For it certainly should not be a surprise that a large portion of Moroccan viewers are hooked by the show, especially in the permanent absence of a better alternative. Additionally, the sweeping fascination with such reality shows is quite understandable, as they make suspense and intrigue their most obvious selling point. However, what lies behind that entire external surface is the real concern, especially when the majority of consumers are teenagers and sometimes even children. Thus, we are hard-pressed to study this phenomenon from all possible angles to avoid falling into the trap of selling out a positive image of what we deem negative.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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