I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the occasional episode of Peaky Blinders. The show is well-acted, gripping, and very skilled at bringing back the 1920s. It’s nice to open up Netflix and be transported back to this time as it serves as a reminder of a tougher, more aggressive Britain. The optimism after World War One quickly evaporated as the Great Depression took hold. The rigid class system of the time meant that certain sections of disenfranchised society found solitude in criminal gangs - hence, the Peaky Blinders were born.
After binge watching the show for several hours, I noticed a problem. You see, Peaky Blinders has become extremely popular all over the world. For many, it’s the first they’ve ever heard of Birmingham and the first time they’ve been exposed to the seedy underbelly of British life. Though the show is set almost 100 years in the past, there are certain elements (such as the prominence of gang culture) that are still relevant today.
Overseas Viewer Perception
I then noticed a problem. For every plaudit the show gets, there are at least three huge drawbacks. The biggest one is that, for overseas viewers, their perception of what working-class British life was like back then was full of violence and imminent danger. Some viewers may even think that Britain is like this even now.
It’s a shame. Much like The Crown, Peaky Blinders had the platform to depict Britain in the best possible light whilst still showcasing its perils respectably. By all means take creative license, but only in moderation. The 1920s may have been tough, but it’s possible to depict the highs and lows of the time whilst staying true to historical fact.
But Peaky Blinders isn’t interested in doing that. Instead, the show’s main goal is to depict as much violence and corruption as possible. I can’t deny that it’s entertaining, but it’s also worrying and could have huge ramifications on how we Brits are perceived abroad.
Impact Of Glorifying Gang Culture
The last thing we Brits should be associated with is brutal violence and a glorification of gang culture. Yes, Peaky Blinders is based on real people, but the show plays fast and loose with the truth and prefers to showcase glorified violence over real events. I worry that international fans of the show will be scared to visit the great city of Birmingham (and maybe even Britain in general) due to the content in the show.
Such a consequence could have a major effect on our economy. Though tourists can be irritating (particularly as they slowly walk around London) their spending plays a big role in our economic dealings. After two miserable financial years, it's vital that Britain’s tourist sector comes back with a roar.
This is only possible if we allow tourists to feel welcome. Glorifying the bone-crunching violence in shows like Peaky Blinders is one way to make tourists decide to go to France or Ireland instead. If similar shows continue to get made, then our great reputation abroad could be flattened in an instant.
Hallmarks Of Our Great Nation
British industry, music, bravery, and literary prowess should all be the first things that come to mind when tourists picture the UK. The image of Big Ben standing tall. The sound of Her Majesty addressing the nation. The roar from Wembley after yet another England win. These are all hallmarks that should, and must, be associated with our country if we want the best for our economy.
Peaky Blinders may be entertaining, but it’s no measuring stick for UK life. Perhaps we should start a petition to have the show feature a disclaimer stating that we, as a country, don’t condone the actions done by most of its characters.
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