Talking to The Guardian Guide, Leona Lewis struggled to explain the riots.
Fair enough: it's going to be quite a while before anyone will actually really understand the causes of the riots, and by then the world will have moved on and will be rioting elsewhere, for different reasons. So perhaps it's a bit much to expect Leona to have something coherent to offer.
"It was just hoodrats getting totally out of control," she froths, with an indignant swish of her newly dark, single-plaited hair. "I don't think there was any motivation behind it other than to cause trouble cos they're bored and want free stuff. Total, total hoodrats. Little shits!"If we take this as a thought-through position, doesn't Leona think that 'boredom' is a motivation of itself? And that 'boredom' has its own causes and impulses?
And, given that Lewis is effectively trilling Cameron's "criminality pure and simple" line, albeit while wearing slightly nicer underwear, surely there's a question why these pure, simple criminals acted out on those three or four days last month, and not at any time before or since? Didn't something cause those "hoodrats" to suddenly swarm like hoodrats over branches of 3?
"I don't care how poor you are," she scoffs, "there's no excuse for setting fire to people's property. I was, 'This is our community and you're setting fire to your neighbour's house? You could kill someone!' They weren't even thinking about it."That's true; there wasn't a lot of analytical thinking going on. And, indeed, there won't be any if Lewis has anything to do with it, not while people confuse 'understanding the causes' with 'making excuses for'.
"My dad was saying, 'It's been a long time coming,'" she notes. "He was, 'We have so many laws and regulations against us that we can't discipline the kids. There is no discipline.' It's a lack of discipline and respect. Yeah, some were opportunists just taking stuff but the ones setting light to stuff? When I was young there were always troublemakers but it's changed so much."I've tried to pick this apart to work out what Lewis actually means here - is she saying that the looters had understandable motivations if they weren't also arsonists? Or just the opportunist looters? How does an opportunist looter differ from a hoodrat?
The suggestion that troublemakers have got out of hand is fascinating, given what Lewis is in the paper to promote:
Most intriguingly, there's the stunning trip-hop of Trouble ("It's very London,"), as if Kate Bush in 1979 was transported through a pop Tardis to front Massive Attack in 1991. Her spectral vocal imploring "I'm a whole lot of trouble."So, presumably, in Lewis' moral kingdom, troublemaking is a finely-graded thing - some troublemaking is fine; some, even desirable. But there's a point at which troublemaking turns into hoodratting, and then it becomes a thing that's bad.
"It's definitely true," she smiles. "I am a whole lot of trouble."
But let's just turn back to her views on a lack of respect. Leona Lewis owes her fame to a television programme whose premise is inviting people to come and have a go at achieving fame and fortune without the need to demonstrate much in the way of talent or work to achieve that end, and which, especially in its early stages, consists of very rich people sitting in judgement on the have-nots, alternating between pissing on their dreams and deriding their deficiencies. Perhaps Lewis doesn't want to look too closely at the culture that has rioted, because it might be close to home in ways that aren't solely geographic?