On the afternoon of February 12, 1993, in a shopping centre in Merseyside in north-western England, just outside of Liverpool), two ten-year-olds took two-year-old James Bulger and a long walk which ended his life. Eight years after the horrific murder of James Bulger, the two culprits Jon Venable and Robert Thompson have been set free with new identities to lead normal lives. This has brought up a number of questions some of which are.
.. ‘Was justice served on behalf of James Bulger?’ and ‘Will the two young men Jon Venable and Robert Thompson be able to led real free lives?’The report from The Sunday Times and that from The Mail On Sunday about the characters of Jon Venable and Robert Thompson are very similar. They are similar in the sense that they both highlight the same aspects of the two young men’s characters.
In both reports, reference is made to the failure of both boys to be able to interact well with the public. The reports also highlight the insecurity and fearfulness in both Venables and Thompson; both of then are afraid of being discovered at some point and the retribution they will face if they are discovered.The two articles also make a particular reference to the academic performances of both boys. This portrays the two as hard working and able men, which is a boost of their characters.
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson are also shown to have a conscience which is not so clear and is where the delicate part of their characters is shown; where Venable became suicidal when jeered at in the street and Thompson feeling that he deserved to die.The imagery used in the Sunday Times and that of the Mail On Sunday can be said to be relatively opposites. While the stereotype image of evil; the expressionless piercing eyes, is used by the Sunday Times to portray the two young killers; Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, the imagery used in the Mail On Sunday shows the image of the two scared innocent looking children who are being scolded for a mischief.The imagery used by the Sunday Times to portray the two boys reflects their views of the now grown men; Jon Venable and Robert Thompson.
They probably see these two young men as men that cannot be trusted and may pose a danger to the community. The heading which stands out boldly from the rest of the page; “MASKED MEN”, portrays Jon Venable and Robert Thompson as criminal (‘masked men’ first brings to mind armed robbers). It can also portray the two as people in hiding. Both of the above statements are in a way portrayed in the caption below the picture of the two young murders; ‘criminals’ can be linked to ‘scrutiny for life.
… and killers of the toddler James.
…’ and ‘in hiding’ can be linked with ‘ever fearful of discovery.
… and violent retribution’.
The second image down shows the viewer the deception that Jon Venables especially and Robert Thompson are capable of accomplishing. Taking advantage of James Bulger’s innocence they lure him away from the supermarket while holding his hands with ease like a familiar person. This image can also portray to the reader how very easily these two young murderers can deceive the public and all that come in their was of the guilt which they now feel.The final image in the Sunday Times shows the face of the ‘unforgiving’ mother of James Bulger, whom from the caption below; “advisers want James to move on” it tells the reader that she still has not been able to move on form the horrible past.
The picture shows the sad and yet angry face of a mother who lost her three-year-old son to the cruelty of two bloodthirsty boys.The main picture in the Mail on Sunday shows the opposite of that in the Sunday Times. In this picture, Jon Venable and Robert Thompson are shown as two innocent looking children acquiring a criminal record. In this imagery, the there is no portrayal of danger or wickedness at all, only a portrayal of innocence.
The effect this picture has on the reader is bringing doubt into the readers mind, “they look so innocent, maybe they did not know what they were doing” this is a statement that could easily be made by a person with very limited information on the murder of the toddler James Bulger.The next images all clustered together tell of the past joys and the present pain, anger and hatred. The past is shown here as full of joy, and is labelled “Happy Memories..
.” The present is the direct opposite. The faces of both parents of James Bulger are filled with pain, dissatisfactory, and hatred for the two young men who murdered their beloved son. While Denise Bulger asks for justice for her dead son, her formal husband asks in disgust if his son’s murderers were taken to James’ grave.
In both reports we see images of the past and of the present, the past having both good and bad memories but the present holding only pain, anguish and no forgiveness what so ever.The main images in both the Sunday Times and the Mail On Sunday as a whole bring to mind the questions, “Innocence or Evil?” ” Cured men or Danger to society?” I think what the Sunday Times and the Mail On Sunday are trying to achieve is to make the reader decide for themselves if Jon Venable and his companion in crime, Robert Thomson hold pose as a treat to anybody else’s life and if justice was serviced. Both reports however do not show any signs of taking sides or making judgements of their own.One other question the Sunday Times wants the reader to decide whether Jon Venable and Robert Thompson will ever be really free despite their release.
In the report Jon Venables first lawyer; ” ….
..The strain will be too much. The boys may be at liberty, but they will never be free.
” Even at this stage, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson are said to be paranoid about their true identity being discovered, with Jon Venables becoming nervous whenever he heard a Liverpool accent and Robert Thompson having already suffered an attack of paranoia about being recognised while on a visit to the supermarket. The two are also known to turn of the television set whenever their stories are mentioned.The Mail on Sunday to describes Robert Thompson’s and Jon Venables’ future life to some extent. The report mainly talks are the lack of privacy the two young men will be facing in their new life.
While the police will be closely monitoring to the extent that they will both remain on licence for life, which in itself is a constant reminder to them of their past lives, they will also have to live with the fear of being recognised by the public. This fear is not only shared by Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, but also by even the Senior Home Office Officials. The public pose as a great treat to Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. This is evident from statement made by James Bulger’s father, Ralph Bulger, ” ……..anonymous phone calls from people claiming to represent terrorist organisations, military groups and hardened criminals…………they have all claimed that they will find these two and kill them upon release…….”.Personally I do not think everyone should be able to live with such a horrific stain on his or her conscience, however some people are able to just erase every incident they wish not to remember and get on with their lives, some do not even have a conscience, and who is to say that Jon Venables and Robert Thompson cannot choose to wipe their minds clear of the incident which happened nine years ago?