RCT: Right Idea on Metal Theft, Wrong Focus in Video.

Rhondda Cynon Taf council made it into the news today for the launch of their so called ‘hard hitting’ video on the impact and dangers of metal theft. There can be little doubt about the damaging nature of this crime wave that is blighting Wales, and those to suffer, in particular schools, community sites and religious centres, not too mention the commemorative memorials to be destroyed through these petty thefts, are all amongst the most vulnerable victims in terms of those who are able to foot the bill for the expensive repairs required after such acts of vandalism. Why then do RCT dwell for so long on the perpetrator of the crime in their video?

The video opens to a churchyard, one location of many included in the video to have been hit by the metal thefts, but we do not focus on the church or its parishioners, instead we hear the disembodied voice of the mournful metal thief. Clearly talking to us from beyond the grave, we hear how his lift was not supposed to end like this, his widowed wife expresses her anger but qualifies in her thoughts how he was in fact a good man. The video rumbles on, a shot of school closed for the day because of metal thefts, then our perpetrator is seen near death, told he cannot have his life saving operation because of metal theft. Have we got the message yet? Metal theft is bad yes? But watching this campaign, it’s hard not to be left with the thought of ‘why should we care?’ due to the central figure of the narrative. The core ‘victim’ featured is the thief himself, not the innocent bystander who suffers because of the thief, but the man who was stupid and selfish enough to do the robbery in the first place.

While the sentiments are fine, RCT would have done well to recast its lead figure, the ‘hero’ of the piece if you will. As it stands, the video seems to be attempting to play on the viewers sympathy for the thief, which is the exact opposite message that should be pushed here. Why should we care about this individual? Frankly, we shouldn’t. A better take would have been to feature our ‘hero’ frying himself on his freshly swiped electric cable, before the cindered corpse is ditched into a lake by his disgusted partner. That might ‘send a message’, as it is, this effort, while well intended, only serves to frustrate and ultimately fail to deliver the hard hitting message that it could have done.

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