The Wages of Skins | Letters | Chicago Reader

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The Wages of Skins

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To the editors:

I must express my liking of your article "Skinheads," that appeared in your March 24 issue. Your article, unlike the rest of the recent media coverage on this movement, gave an accurate, unsolicited portrayal on the skinhead movement. Until "Skinheads" was released, all other media coverage was exploiting this movement which in turn only promoted skinhead violence.

The exploitive media coverage being referred to are the two shows of Oprah Winfrey and Geraldo Rivera. Each show had the basic claim that they were going to explore the topic of skinheads and find out more about this violent movement. But, all that these shows managed to do was help give the skinheads a chance to give strength to their movement by means of national television. In the case with the Oprah show, the skins on stage did not take the interview, or even the show seriously. All that really occurred was that white supremacist skins were able to racially slur Oprah on national television, and get away with it. Though this show may have been ridiculous display, it could never compare to the ultimate low the Geraldo show hit. Geraldo knew of the violent nature of skinheads; he even made mention of this in the beginning of the show. Then, Geraldo puts white supremacist skinheads on stage with black spokespeople. Why? These two, diametrically opposed, groups were inevitably going to clash. The fight involving the skins, the other guest hosts, the audience, as well as Geraldo himself should never have happened. But it did happen, nonetheless, on national television. Once again, as with the Oprah show, the skins are allowed to get away with this.

This is media exploitation at its best. Nothing good came from these two shows, and that is not the worst part about these shows. These shows are aired in the morning; at a time when youths are in school. Children, that are candidates for being skinheads, are unable to view these shows. What these children are able to see are the clips on the news, showing Geraldo getting bashed in the face by a chair, being repeated over and over on every channel. They are also able to see that the skinheads were able to leave the studio without any form of punishment for their violent acts. This is what gives the skins power in recruiting more youths. As the "skinhead" article mentions, youths are attracted by the violence; and these two shows portrayed their violence as being O.K. This is how the media promoted skinhead violence.

The "Skinhead" article was totally contrary to the other media portrayals of skinheads. This article showed how it is not fun to be traveling around the country with nothing, getting hospitalized because of violent acts, and arrested. The article also showed skins paying for their actions, and not just walking away from them. This is why I am expressing my liking of this article.

John C. Krolopp

N. Clybourn

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