Ross Kemp In Venezuela Karachi, Venezuela & Marseille
These episodes are introduced in a small prologue by Ross now ensconced in a smart black shirt (which is now vying for top billing with his royal blue one in my estimation) They are picked as his best and favourite episodes so are from earlier series.
Just as i was loftily declaring Ross Kemp’s supreme objectivity throughout until his declamation on the situation right at the end of the episode : it seemed Ross was declaiming all over the place in Venezuela.
Yes, it is fairly clear that Ross, in his sing song three points in three sentences speech to camera, sides with the supposed underdog wherever he is. However he became guilty in my eyes, mostly by using the eponymous and negating of the sentence or statement that went before it-ever annoying word “but”. Or more succinctly: everything before the “but” is bullshit.
“I’m not condoning kidnappings, but there’s no social services, what else are they supposed to do?” Ross declared after meeting some T-shirted faced kidnappers in Venezuela.
“I could only get out by going far away from here” one kidnapper announced mournfully to him. Well perhaps you should.
Yes, its tough, but kidnapping and killing people of whom most would likely be small children, is not usually the first thing that comes to mind to most people to “feed their family”. As Ross kept repeating seemingly almost dutifully throughout.
Was this somehow more worthy of the “but” appendage because they (the victims) were rich people and children than poor?
Would Ross have similarly qualified the sentence if the crime was the other way around? I wonder.
Then in Karachi Ross seemed oblivious to what seemed to me a purely show-off exercise on the Police’s behalf when they took Ross along one night to free a kidnapped child and or arrest some kidnappers. Which involved snatching two random men in the dark and letting two other men run away without giving chase.
Later Ross was told that the two men who disappeared into the night were really the kidnappers who were holding a child to ransom. This was on the say so of the two men captured, who had clothes over their heads to avoid being filmed presumably while they were held, kneeling on the floor by the Police.
Considering this statement was accepted on the say so of the two men who didn’t look like they were going to be charged any time soon and most likely let go. Given that the night time secret raid was explained by Ross to camera as we walked along, this rather blew their supposed surprise raid on the camp i felt.
Then, after laboriously explaining to us over and over that there were three different ethnic groups who all supported different political parties, Ross diverged from his usual method of meeting each group or side an unaccountably concentrated on on group only.
This decision seemed motivated purely by the fact that the area the group were in was known as the most dangerous area in Karachi. This was a bit of a coup to get access to this area and off Ross went with a woman fixer/ Journalist. They couldn’t even get out of the car until they had the say so.
The visit to just one sect or political group, since nobody could seem to agree on a definition, was unusual in that Ross usually takes care to meet each group described.
His visit to the infamous area and the particular group with their charismatic leader turned into a semi-farce and a forced PR opportunity for said leader as he announced that he, King-like in his procession along with Ross, his film crew, were going on a walkabout.
As apparently adoring townsfolk kissed his garment practically and spouted their adoration for this leader of the town a local vented to camera about their people’s plight. Ross could do nothing but acquiesce to this whole affair attempting a diplomatic and neutral smile to all.
Once back in the leader’s sumptuous house with a mini-swimming pool just for show, which was highly unlikely to be chlorinated i felt and was really most odd and likely a huge headache for the woman of the house to look after: Lo and behold the Police turn up, start shooting outside and by supposed utter coincidence (either the leader did it or the Police did it) all the light go out inside.
Ross and his crew are left flummoxed until just as quickly, the lights go on again but the charismatic leader announces it is not safe for Ross and company to leave. Since, look, supposedly, we are under attack, poor us.
Ross is looking like someone trapped at a bad party gone wrong and eventually agrees a special convoy offered by the leader to exit before sundown.
Not long afterwards, in fact the next day, Ross is called back to the same area to enter a house and go past a whole alleyway of grieving women. A young man of that sect has been murdered by another group/ sect. We are told of other young men of this sect, murdered too.
It is all tragic, granted and Ross explains how the coffin is carried hand to hand by all the local men. However i couldn’t help but wonder if this tragedy was linked in any way to the perceived PR opportunity and possible favouritism perceived for one group’s cause as against the others. By the device of the documentary itself.
The whole escapade,whilst of course all concerned could have come off a lot worse
(Ross did casually mention that the charismatic leader with whom he had sipped tea had a cellar where he was known to hold and torture people) seemed like a sadly misconstrued affair.
For any Spiral fan, I forget which Series exactly, Ross Kemp in Marseilles would seem eerily familiar.
Since a particular series of Spiral focused on exactly this setting and milieu: the banlieues in France, here called by their known name there of “the cities”. The drug trafficking, the attempts of the Police to broach the fortress like estates, the violence doled out to them if they did and to all unknown outsiders.
The go-fast car trafficking from Spain. The Police had the familiar orange armbands on as they sped extra quickly to find out if an undercover Policeman living on the estate was OK. Since his cover had been blown. We were never told his fate.
Very sensibly, the Peruvian Special forces just take Ross along on an impressive training exercise in Ross Kemp in The Amazon. Since it must be obvious, by which i mean glaringly obvious to anybody really, that having Ross, his camera crew and the give-away of Ross perpetually whispering sotto-voice to camera as the particular Police/Special forces approach their target: that this is going to royally mess up their job/ mission. Which it does. Pretty much every time.
Unless the Police are just showing off, which i sometimes suspect. That way is probably preferable and safer. For all concerned.
Ross is clearly on the side of the underdog, that much is clear. I did wonder at his sympathetic (getting to be
repeatedly sympathetic) interview with the young drug dealer who claimed he wanted to get out but nobody would give him a job.
“Because of who you are and where you come from?” helpfully suggested Ross. Hmm. Ross’s objectivity lately is evidently slipping.
Ross didn’t include in his interviews the families of the victims killed by said drug dealing gangs. That would have been more balanced. Presumably that would have been too dangerous for the families. No doubt the gangsters wouldn’t have liked that.
Ross had a jolly dinner with two veteran ex-gangsters from back in the day. You know, the ones that dubiously claim that they “did it better, we had a code”. Ross reiterated this spiel by claiming such old school gangsters only/ mainly killed each other. Sure.
Not like these new and nasty new kids / kingpins on the block. Ross seemed to forget his habitual diplomacy at the dinner table when he started pointing his fingers at the ex-gangster and is 70’s style moustachioed Lawyer. Most foolish i felt, what was Ross thinking of in this vainglorious and foolhardy finger pointing?
There are many folk who take amiss at pointing, never mind ex old school gangsters. However they took it in their stride since, surely this mild index finger action was water off a duck’s back to a man who described how violence became more sophisticated but intense,the further up the gangster ladder you went.
The old school gangster was agelessly old. Tanned and twinkling and carefree, he could have been anywhere between 60-80 or nearly 90. He was obsidian and ancient. Like a soon to be old tortoise head, poking out of its shell.