Like a lot of other culture writers, I’m a nerdy Anglophile, so I’m sick over the riot reports coming out of London. And from a cultural perspective, it’s particularly devastating to hear about the burning of Sony’s distribution warehouse and the impact it’ll have on independent artists and independent record stores. So if you want to support British artists, and in particular, to consume some art that’s about the socioeconomic and racial divisions that have played a role in British unrest over the past year, not just the past few days, here are a couple of suggestions:
1. Prime Suspect, Series Two: The second season of the show that made Helen Mirren a star is all about underinvestigations of crimes in London’s Afro-Caribbean neighborhoods — and about the role that race and gender expectations play in the way police officers present themselves in the larger context of the force:
2. Logic’s “For My People.” I’m not comfortable with everything the conscious rapper Logic is saying on Twitter about the riots — I don’t think celebrating burning police stations is productive — but “For My People” is a great explication of how difficult it can be for poor people and people of color to get a place at the policymaking table, or to get media attention by peaceful means:
3. Spooks, Series One. American spy shows tend to focus on foreign threats rather than domestic ones. This show, about a fictional MI-5 unit, is all about the threats to British stability from within, whether it’s anti-abortion extremists, racists who want to forment ethnic conflict in England as a means of cleansing it, and even a post-Buffy Anthony Head as racial environmentalist.
4. Misfits. I’ve written about Misfits before, but if you’re looking for pop culture that will force you to empathize with people who are not inherently likable, or a show about the unfashionable parts of London that are in the process of getting torn up, it’s worth checking out.