|Tom Barry and Aine Collins|
This week a YouTube video is making the rounds internationally. It stars what sounds like at least two young Irish men verbally abusing a young Korean girl who looks frightened out of her wits. The video was filmed in Korea.
It features a terrifying level of racist abuse and dehumanizing aggression aimed at one prone young Korean woman. It's about the saddest, hardest thing I've seen on the news cycle since the Newtown massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing.
It's fake, apparently. Just when the outrage was reaching a fever pitch this week one of the participants in the video contacted the media to say it was the work of an edgy Korean director trying to make a name for himself. He hired actors (including Irish actors) and shot a scene involving horrifying racist abuse.
Some people make sex tapes to become famous. Others now apparently shoot unexplained horror flicks.
The resultant video went nowhere for a year until one of the young men who starred in it uploaded it to his own Facebook account, where it instantly went viral and outraged the whole of Korea (and was about to horrify the world).
I wouldn't be at all surprised if Korean authorities were considering arresting the makers for a hate crime before this quickly written clarification hit the stands. The level of the racist and physical abuse in the video is so sickening it certainly looked justified.
But sometimes what is created to deceive can end up telling the truth.
There's a tone that you can hear plainly in the video. It's a tone of bravado and complete detachment from any moral compass. It lacks an ounce of compassion or any shared awareness of how the actions they're performing impact on others.
It's a tone you can increasingly hear in our news cycles. It can make you wonder if all of us have actually left the caverns at Lascaux.
We heard a version of it in the taped conversations from the boardrooms of the Anglo Irish Bank as it faced collapse. Bank CEO David Drumm and his cohorts seemed to go out of their way to reproduce every entitled appendage-waving, frat boy cliché ever committed to celluloid. It was almost as if they didn't want to disappoint us.
In the tapes they outdo themselves to confirm every suspicion we ever had about the state of health of the nearly all-male culture of top flight Irish banking heads. It's every bit as toxic as the banks they led.
Wealth, status and position apparently inoculate some men from ever worrying about the consequences of their actions. They fester in their own privilege. That's why they sound the way they do, why they act the way they do.
Last week a Fine Gael TD (member of Parliament) pulled a female colleague on to his lap during a Dail (Parliament) abortion debate. He rejected as “absolute lies” any suggestion he had been engaged in a heavy drinking session earlier in a Dublin pub.
Apparently he was in control of all his faculties. But you can see why people might have wondered. Considering the question under debate, it was the worst possible moment to demonstrate to the world that he felt he could confidently harass a woman without fear of consequence.
But it turned out he was right. “I have put my two hands up and said I am sorry. It won’t happen again. I did a really stupid thing but I had no intention of offending anyone or being sexist,” said Tom Barry, who represents Cork East.
For the record he did offend many and he was being sexist. He didn't face any serious repercussions at all.
Whether it's making horror videos to get a rise out of people and make some kind of reputation for yourself; whether it's running a bank board room like it's an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus; or whether you're publicly harassing a woman during a critical national debate on woman's rights, it seems that the work of feminism has barely touched a good percentage of the world's men.
I'm sorry to hear that. It looks like they can't help themselves when they're left to their own devices.
The images are all around us. Shocking videos of large groups of men menacing their prone neighbors came out of Northern Ireland this week. Men carrying swords as though it were still the 17th century rushed at men carrying batons and protective shields. It was as sterile as it was pointless.
But we're still permitting men who act like this to do so without fear of consequence. Often we're even rewarding them with backslaps and cheers. We're getting the society we deserve by doing so.