Monday, 9 December 2013

The Savile legacy

I've noticed recently that the posts I wrote immediately following Jimmy Savile's death have been gaining more attention. They were written before the revelation of his long history of sexual assaults, often directed against people towards whom he too frequently had a duty of care. From what has been reported, one can infer that witnesses seem to agree he abused children and adults both systematically and opportunistically. The post-Savile inquiry into the conduct of leading figures in British entertainment in the 1960s and 1970s is still going on, with police investigations underway and in some cases criminal prosecutions completed or pending.

In the later years of his life I and it seems many others looking back on the popular culture giants of their childhoods had come to believe in Savile's offensive, cold, calculating persona as a shell within which a more sensitive and vulnerable man hid. Evidence is still to be codified but (as many have said in the last two years) it seems likely now that Savile was quite deliberately hiding in plain sight, protected by media and political leaders who respected and needed his connections to a youth culture they did not understand and who were either frightened of him or did not know how to interpret his manner. The examination of these errors of judgement of grievous consequence will take years. In the meantime the man some of us thought we knew and with whom we could sympathise has long been revealed as a creature of imaginations misled and power structures within which it was easy for the skilled deceiver to hide for their own purposes.