Defective young men and women...

So I was at the gym this morning doing a quick AM session before heading off to see the Ghost Scrolls, when I saw a daytime TV show doing a special report on the “London NEET Riots” (イギリスニート暴動). This was a classic daytime TV formula, consisting of a studio set with a panel of 3 pretty young women, a slightly older female host, and an expert (in this case, male) drafted in to explain the situation. Like most experts on Japanese TV, he had a whiteboard divided up into many small segments, with which he would explain various aspects of the troubles. Each segment contained a question or quiz to be asked of the panel, who would attempt to guess explanations. Sometimes there would be footage from the riots, with a little cutaway showing one of the panel-members nodding and ooing and aahing. So this is how the discussion unfolded, after the initial background report.

Child Rioters and The Police Commissioner’s Quiz

First the expert discussed the presence of teenagers in the riot. The teenagers were presented on the whiteboard, of course, as cute little anime-style pictures of two archetypal hoodies, one white and one black. They were both wearing masks, dark hoodies, and they had their hands tucked into the pouches at the front of the hoodie. Both had the faces of children, but wearing the kind of ferocious frowning expression one sees on angry anime children. The panel were of course shocked that such kids would be involved, especially when the presenter revealed that about 10 primary-school children had been caught. The expert then went on to describe the Police Commissioner’s request for all parents to find out where their children are and not let them outside, and asked the panel why they thought this was. He unveiled two possible answers, one at a time: “because the children might run into danger” was revealed first, and the panel asked if it was true or false. He then revealed the red cross for “false” and followed this up with the next option: “because the children might do something dangerous,” followed by the green circle for “true.” There was, of course, stunned incomprehension on the part of our panel.

The Cause of the Riots

The expert characterized the riots as being the work of NEETS (Not in Education, Employment or Training). This is tying the riots straight back to the biggest fear of Japanese society, that sometime in the future their own pool of NEETs may grow in size and troublesomeness. Given that the current stereotypical Japanese NEET is a nerdy kid who stays home and refuses to leave his or her room, it seems they have a long, long way to go before they become a London-style not-so-neat NEET. But given the gulf in culture between Japan and the UK (oh god, looking at these riots the gulf certainly seems very wide!) this characterization probably gives the average Japanese person a reasonable point of reference. For most Japanese, the UK is a distant land of beautiful buildings and gentle manners, so they probably find it very hard to comprehend this current spate of ungentlemanly behaviour. Enter everyone’s bogeyman, the NEET… but more information than that is needed before the Japanese can understand the difference between the British and Japanese conception of the NEET.

Who is Doing It, Anime Style

The expert then produced a hilarious graphic depicting the three main identifiable groups involved in the rioting – or perhaps the three main types of NEET (I didn’t stay long enough to see him explain anything about organized crime). Again, the anime graphics come out, first the graphic describing the two teenagers, then a graphic describing “second generation migrants” (移民2世). These second generation migrants were depicted as a black kid, a Sikh kid (Japan always represents India symbolically as a turban), and a white kid (maybe European). They weren’t wearing particularly street-y clothes and didn’t have quite the same ferocious expression as the previously-mentioned schoolkids. Then the expert moved on to the third graphic: The Chav. That’s right, I just witnessed a whiteboard, on TV, in Japan, with the word “Chav” written on it, beneath a picture-perfect depiction of a male and female Chav. White, the man twice the size of the woman, his fist pointed out of the picture with dollar signs tattooed on it, his hair disarrayed, a stupid and slightly confused expression on his face. The woman was looking hard-faced and a bit slovenly, her hair tied back tight and up, both of them wearing jewellery and sports suits. Perfect! Next to it the translation: delinquent young white men and women (不良白人少年少女)。Perfect!

Beneath each picture was an explanation of their basic lifestyles in terms the Japanese can grasp easily: The teenagers aren’t in school or work; the second generation migrants aren’t going to school; the Chav’s are not in regular or stable employment. The panel had to guess each of these categories before the expert revealed them.

So there you have it, a canned description of the state of English society for those of you who live somewhere civilized. Given the events of the last 24 hours I’m not sure if you could characterize second-generation migrants as a big part of the riots (unless being killed by rioters in a hit-and run accident counts), and I’m not sure if “delinquent” is the best description of a Chav (or the best translation of 不良 in this instance; “inferior” or “defective” also applies, haha). But I think we see here the essence of the problem. Get an education and a job, you arseholes.

Update: I found a screenshot of the picture of Chavs on Reddit…