What to think of a beauty contest that aims at awarding Miss Mafia?
It is the latest of a series of priceless marketing ideas to promote a good. This time, however, it is not a proper consumption good, or an object. Tens of girls around Europe have applied to participate at Miss Mafia, an award that will be destined only to girls convicted of mafia-connected crimes.
Yes, to be able to show a long list of crimes (bribing, fraud, robbery etc.) will increase applicant’s chance to win. Miss Mafia is an idea of a bar based in Budapest, Hungary. «An innocent marketing idea», the organisers claim. The fact is that the mafia-like stereotype is still perceived as “cool” globally.
The succesful movie “The GodFather” initiated a process that is captivating for and involves lot of youngsters around the globe. Board games, online games, console videogames, T-shirts. All tax-free tools that the mobsters and criminals are thankful for. Perceived as innocent and harmless, they attract the mind of our young generations and infiltrate in their coscience a message that is extremely hard to pull out once they are grown ups.
In our work we face it every single day: to demolish a culture of illegality is as hard as to arrest an international fugitive. The social stratum in which organised crime syndicates move and operate is a thick layer made of popular consensus, whispered recognition and invisible although persistent presence. It is the case of many criminal groups in as many territories around the world: Mexico, Colombia, Russia, Italy, China, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria and many more. And where mafia groups cannot count on the same social penetration, they bring a worldwide-recognized tool for consent: money.
The latest, despite the silence and the little coverage in the media, is a serious threat that wealthiest countries have to face. Organised crime syndicates need indeed to invest the huge sum of money accumulated through illegal activities, cash is priceless no matter who comes from, and the doors are left unlocked for them to enter. Illegal – or illicit – investments are the key to enter those territories. It is the case of Germany, Canada, United States, Australia, Switzerland, but also Spain, Dubai, Japan, India, United Kingdom etc.
Only last July the mayor of Las Vegas announced the imminent opening of the Mob Museum. A way to show citizens and tourists the history of a city that it was built upon illegality and blood, I say, and to show the legacy brought about by criminals and shady figures.
How many kids and teenagers will enter that museum? Each ticket sold to them is a defeat for those who fight organised crime every day, for those who have lost a beloved, for those who struggle to promote a legality-driven culture. As a user from Aberdeen writes in a blog promoting the Miss Mafia contest: «This sounds amazing, I wish I was there!».
It is perhaps true that the evil is more tempting than the good. However, we prefer to remember Anna Politkovskaya on the fourth anniversary of her assassination, or Hasan Balicki, an engineer from Turkey killed on October 18 2002, or Georgiy Gongadze, Ukrainian journalist murdered on September 17 2002. People who gave their life while doing their job. And to users such as “Looney” who says: «Ah, so crime does pay!», we would like to tell about Italian judge Giovanni Falcone who, before being killed on May 23, 1992, once said: «Mafias are a human phenomenon, and just like any other human phenomenon they have a genesis, they have an evolution and therefore they will also have a ending».