Murdered for Being Different
Directed by Paul Andrew Williams
BBC Three's bold and powerful Murdered By/ For series is a chilling reminder of all the wrongful and unjust deaths in the world. By reflecting on one person's story, the series captures an entire nation, and world, of tragedies. Murdered for Being Different is the latest docudrama in the series, and it remarks on the epidemic of hate crimes.
One fateful night, Sophie Lancaster was kicked to death by a gang of kids she didn't know. Her boyfriend Rob was beaten into a coma. The reason: because they dressed like Goths. This factual drama tells the true story of a young couple, their relationship, and the violence and hatred that destroyed their lives. The film, marking the 10th Anniversary of Sophie's death, is a testament to Sophie's life and love, but also an examination of the causes and consequences of the horrific attack.
Murdered for Being Different ends with a staggering statistic: last year, nearly 70,000 hate crimes were reported in Britain... The highest figure since records began. This is, unfortunately, not a surprise considering our world's current political doctrine: hate anyone who is different from you. In this Trumpian world, we are breeding hate and intolerance; we are encouraging people to act like the kids in this story, on their prejudices. It's disgusting and villainous that our world leaders are propagating this type of hate.
Yet, Murdered for Being Different succeed in showing that, even though Sophie and Rob dressed differently and listened to different music, they were both just like everyone else. They loved, they lived, they laughed, they cried, they read Harry Potter. There was nothing different about them aside from they personal aesthetic. This is the most powerful, and poignant, message from this film. We may look different, we may speak different languages, but we all share our humanity.
This film was made extremely well, and with great care. The filmmakers, with the help of Robert Maltby and the Lancaster family, shared this harrowing story with power, emotion, and respect. The performances from the entire cast, particular Nico Mirallegro as Rob Maltby, are authentic, raw, and moving. This film is so incredibly important. It's important for people to see this story and see that Sophie and Rob, and everyone else who is different, aren't freaks. They are people, just like you. It's a testiment to anyone who goes against the grain and who has the strength to stand up for who they are. It's an extremely powerful, emotional, and timely film that shows the consequences and impact of hate.
On a personal note, this film spoke to me on a much more personally than the other two films in this series. Since watching it, I have really struggled to get Sophie's story out of my mind. Like Sophie, I grew up different. I never fit the cookie cutter mold society expected of me. This film did a remarkable job of flooding me with the emotions of what it felt like to be different and to be strong enough to embrace your uniqueness. But what struck me the most was something else Sophie and I shared: a love for Harry Potter. Like Sophie and many other kids of my generation, I escaped into Harry's world to forget about the bullying and torment from the real world. And with J.K. Rowling's story, I learned to acceptance difference, to be tolerant of other, to show bravery even in the hardest of times, and to love everyone. This reflected back into the encompassing Potter community. In the Potter community, everyone, regardless of appearance, is accepted and loved whole heartedly. It gives me hope to think that Sophie was able to find solace and acceptance in the Potter community, unlike her local community. And I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this and find themselves in Sophie.