Thursday, June 2, 2011

Commercial Break # 5 Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat

I loved the comic Viz  when I was younger. I still find it funny now but when it first came out it was outrageous. If you haven’t heard of this UK phenomenon Viz was a comic that looked like an innocuous children’s comic but it wasn’t. It was offensive toilet humour mocking comics with characters like ‘the Fat Slags’ and one of my favourites, ‘jelly Head’ and mocking the tabloid press with spoof stories. It had a hilarious top tips section. It even had fake advertising. I remember two: One was a ‘salad thief’ which was telescopic and you could take a ton of salad at the ‘visit once only’ salad bar; Another was a ‘glitter shitter’ which was designed to sprinkle glitter over dog shit to make it look pretty on the pavement! On the website today they are selling T-towels of the life of Jesus in cats Jesus died for your sins... now let him DRY for your sins with this fantastic Life of Christ in Cats tea towel’. I want one of those! Some of my stock sayings originate from Viz, from ‘Fnar, Fnar’ to promising ‘god will reward you with bright lights and music in your head’ taken from one of the spoof stories. It was clever, raw, crude, lewd, rude and funny. It also took the piss out of silly celebrities who took themselves too seriously -the antithesis of ‘Hello’ and ‘OK’.
I was very excited this weekend at the beach, waiting in a queue at a convenience store when I spied a Viz like publication. ‘BUSTED LOCALS’. It had all the Viz ingredients. The front cover was full of ‘Mug Shots’ of criminals with silly strap lines beneath each photo, taking the piss out of how they looked such as ‘You can’t charge me if I cry’ beneath a sobbing girl and ‘real men cry too, just ask my mom, she’ll tell you’ underneath a tearful man. An old man with bad teeth had ‘I’m here for the dental exam, right? Pure comedy. There was a competition advertised on the front page ‘Match the perp to the crime’. There were 8 mug shots and 8 crimes from domestic abuse, trespassing and aggravated assault. It encouraged the maximum attention to racial and social stereotyping in order to unite 'perp' with the offence. Had to be a joke! Didn’t even say charged or ‘alleged’ crime. There was a caption competition too. Another mug shot and the invitation to add ‘fun with captions’. My favourite section was ‘Scum of the week’. It said ‘these punks are charged with atrocious crimes’ and there were the mug shots, names and atrocious crimes. Dirty Harry would never have taken them alive.
I stood in the queue chuckling away. I got some funny looks. I often do so I ignored it I carried on reading. There were Viz style spoof stories, one under a heading ‘Wild and weird’ telling of one man in England who bit the head off a snake (and it wasn’t Ozzy Osbourne) and a hit an run (only in America) by a man with clown makeup on who was part of the ‘Insane clown posse’ It is a cult and the followers are called ‘Juggalos’. They had a picture of the offender next to a raccoon. I thought it was a spot the difference game. I couldn't see any difference at all! It turned out that the raccoon wasn't a perp but a victim. (I had missed the vizesque 'poor raccoon' caption). Police in Texas discovered raccoon meat being sold at a car wash (along with drugs and liquor!).
It was like Viz but it wasn’t subtle enough and clever enough! The comedy was too obvious! The mug shots were organised into The drunk tank, Arrested’ Theft, Traffick, assault, and one was ‘Sex offenders near you’ which also gave addresses as well as names. I stopped laughing. I noticed the very small print; 'all pictured are innocent until proven guilty’ (except the sex offenders who carried a warning that the information was for protecting the public and taking proactive protective measures but not to become vigilantes). I asked someone in the queue behind me if Busted Locals was for real. It was. I asked if it was meant to be funny. It wasn't. 'It's no laughing matter, ma'am'. The mug shots were of people arrested in the area in the last two weeks or so (being published bi-weekly). For $1 I could look at them all. For free, I can follow Busted Locals on Facebook.
When I thought it was a joke I found ‘Busted Locals’ funny. Maybe Viz should launch a new section in the comic- I would suggest ‘match the perp to the crime’ has some mileage. Not sure Viz would do a much better job of it though in terms of pure comedy!
As a serious publication I find Busted Locals shocking! ‘Innocent until proven Guilty’ was enshrined in the Magna Carta of 1215. Given America lifted their legal system form the UK it is firmly in law here too. It is part of the 5th Amendment "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law ..." i.e. a fair trial! Not sure where Busted Locals features as part of due process but if not assisting ‘trial by Media’ it seems a tad bit unfair to publish mug shots when the crime is only ‘alleged’ (I couldn’t find that word any where in the mag) and not proven in a Court of Law.

One of the cartoonists of Viz once said “"We pride ourselves on the fact that you're no cleverer when you've read Viz. You might have had a few laughs, but you've not learnt anything". That’s something Viz, Busted Locals and my Blog have in common!


  1. Love it!, i'm signing up to Busted Locals on FB

  2. Me too!Just to see how crazy it gets!
    although for me I'm not sure that I want to know how many 'perps' are out there - especially when I'm at the beach!


  3. 'perps' is a great word