If you’re a friend of mine, it’s no secret that I hate Ian Alleyne’s CrimeWatch. I think that it’s an ego-maniacal rant that managed to get sponsors and dupe the general public into thinking that there’s a hero listening directly to them. It’s a stain on the fabric of our media, that we don’t want to take out because we think it gives it character. Horrible character, but character nonetheless.
So when I heard that CrimeWatch has been suspended, I almost cracked open a celebratory bottle of wine. Which is huge, because I don’t even drink.
Turns out, though, that this may not be great news for us at all. In fact, it might just make the problem worse…
In a Facebook post Ian Alleyne posted days ago (which, conspicuously, can’t be found), he asked supporters of his show to come to the offices of CNC3 to support him in his fight against what he seems to consider censorship. According to him, the station intends to ask him to sign a contract demanding him to no longer critique the present government. This comes after him insinuating that the wives of two Government ministers benefited from multi-million-dollar contracts at the Brian Lara Stadium, including someone he refers to only as “Andrew’s wife”. Since then, government minister Colm Imbert has done more than deny Alleyne’s statements.
Now, his show has probably been a political advertisement pretending to be superhero talk show for a while. That’s not the scariest part for me. The scariest part is that he’s played the ‘free speech champion’ before, and rallied people to his cause. When Alleyne was arrested in 2012 for running the clip of a minor’s sexual assault, his supporters didn’t necessarily make it easy for them. This time, he attempted to gather his fans yet again, but it’s unclear whether it worked.
If I’m honest to myself, though, I’m certain it did.
Ian Alleyne represents a collection of unfortunate truths about Trinidad and Tobago; we don’t trust our justice system, nor do we trust our government officials, but have all-too-much faith in those who pander to us (extra points for obnoxiousness). It doesn’t hurt him in the slightest that media houses are eager to betray their own ethics for a chance at the ratings that he brings…assuming our local media houses have ethics to begin with. After all, he’s been on every local TV station besides state-owned CNMG and Gayelle The Caribbean (if you’re looking for yet another reason to like Gayelle The Caribbean, well…).
It is in these moments – when he is off the air – that Ian Alleyne truly shows his strength as a personality. He’ll rally the people, and strike the fear of the Almighty Dollar into one media executive or another. He’ll likely end back up on the air, at some other TV station if not CNC3. Not because it’s the responsible thing to do, but because enough of his fanatics will throw themselves in the street for him if he demands it, and because every second he’s not on the air a TV advertising spot devalues.
But this says even more about us than it does about Ian. CrimeWatch has been on the air since 2010. In just those 6 years, he’s shown graphic images like the corpse of an infant and the rape of a minor, and even whatever this is;
…and we never once realized that this is not the sort of person we need parading our nation, pretending to be our hero.