Raoul Moat did not exist…

…or that is what Jean Baudrillard would have said if he was still alive. For the last 7 days or more, a former doorman and paranoid narcissist got the fame he craved. Moat’s name appeared on every news bulletin in the country and the press was dominated by stories about the roid-enraged Geordie beefcake who saw the police as the fulcrum of his problems. Moat was being painted here as an English Rambo.  He seemed incapable of self-reflection or self-examination or accepting responsibility for the consequences of his actions. It’s much easier to blame all one’s problems on someone else.  We find that this attitude is not limited to the life of Moat either; it’s consistent right across the country.

The Raoul Moat story was just that: a story. It was episodic; contained twists and turns and even had an element of mystery; people tuned in to get the latest fix. There was comedy too, particularly on the part of Northumbria Police who made the Keystone Kops look like a paragon of efficiency. Acting Chief Constable Sue Sim wins a special prize for her ancient hairstyle which made her look like the alien in the closing credits of the original Star Trek. Scary.  Sim’s Rothbury news conference on Thursday looked like a scene from a comedy film with her backslapping her colleague and having a laugh or two in front of an audience of locals and journalists. Was this life imitating art?

There is already a Facebook page that says “Raoul Moat You Legend” (there is no punctuation in the title). An anti-hero has been constructed out of a man who abused his former girlfriend and his child. This is the stuff of legend-making: a grain of truth is contained by an awful lot of padding.

Whatever Raoul Moat was he wasn’t a hero nor was he an anti-hero. He was a man who wanted to control everything but in the end became powerless to control even his own existence. The only thing that he could do was pull the trigger and take his own life – this was the final act of control. In the end, the story became larger than the man himself. Moat was superseded by his own ‘celebrity’.

As I write this I am aware that some Hollywood producer is already seeking to acquire the rights to this story.  Who will they pick for the lead role? Ricky Gervais? Leonardo Di Caprio?

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