When it comes to genre’s there is always a debate that about where the boundaries of an genre end and begin, and true crimes is no exception. For most people true crime would have to centre on an act or series of acts which are criminal in nature, and pretty much everything else is movable, whether it is contemporary or historical, whether it is a bloody or bloodless crime, whether is was solved or still being solved. However contemporary society is still coming the grips with the fact that what is and is not considered criminal behaviour can move and change, it is felxible as societies change and grow.
For instance the behaviour of people like Harvey Weinstein, and all the others in media and politics who used their power for sexual gain used to be defended, expected even. It was not a crime, because society chose to often look the other way, “what did she expect?” what a common question and the reply came back loud and clear “a job without sexual harassment, bullying or totally unreasonable working conditions.” We see it still raising it’s head right now as the Conservative Government comes under fire for blackmailing it’s MPs into how to vote through the whip system – something which has been part of the system for time immemorial and was pretty much an open secret. It appears like today’s MPs, much like today’s women are demanding more, and demanding better.
In Harsh Reality, we follow the filming of a reality show, in the early days of reality TV, when the people who pointed out how cruel and morally murky it could be were still being considered fuddy-duddies. There’s Something About Miriam, was filmed on Ibiza (of course) and a group of alpha-males compete for Miriam’s attenetion and £10,000. Of course, there is a catch – and one that anyone know can clearly see is a dangerous one – Mirriam is trans. The series producers did everything they could to keep this from the male contestents, red flags in psychological tests were ignored, and they were pushed to sign legal contracts without the proper amount of time to read them through or consult their own lawyers. It was a recipie for disaster. At the point of the final reveal, one of the men became so aggressively angry the bouncers hired to keep things under control literally ran away. The repuctions did not stop with just that night though, the group of men decided to sue to Sky, on many different counts, but cheif amoung them was conspiring to commit sexual assault. The suit was settled out of court.
The show was cruel, and poorly thought through and managed. However it is once it airs that we get to see the real fall out. The boys find people flock to them, wanting to take photos of them, and buy them drinks life for Miriam is not as easy. She is thrown out a third story window, she was not able to afford her hospital bills and turned to sex work, she then died at the young at the age of 38, and while some think it is suicide, there are those who were close to her that thinks it was murder.
Listening to Harsh Reality one can’t help but wonder if Miriam Revere’s life would be any better if she was alive today. If the way she, and others around her had been treated, would be viewed any differently, if she would still been used as the punchline for a joke, an excuse for male violence, thrown out a window, or possibly killed, and definitely traumatised for being who she is. Or, are we are still in the “what did she expect?” phase of our relationship with trans rights? One would think that this would be an area where both trans and cis women could unite, but unfortunately our shared pain has not universally had that effect, and the only person who wins, is the patriarchy. We have to accept that beautiful, ahead of her time Miriam, would maybe still be alive, if her very existence was not used by others as an excuse to behave unethically and commit crime.