A series consisting mainly of actors with a Moroccan-Dutch background. Unthinkable in the Dutch film industry, but now a reality. The show is called Mocro Maffia and has taken the industry by storm. It’s an uncensored, real and raw crime show conceived and developed by Achmed Akkabi and Thijs Römer and is inspired by the book Mocro Maffia by Wouter Laumans and Marijn Schrijver. There has never been a show like this in the Netherlands and this has also had some consequences.
Cold but realistic
Mocro Maffia is about three former best friends. Romano, Pencil, and The Pope. Together they made the transition from petty crime to larger organized crime. It does not take long before they together rule the cocaine trade in Amsterdam. Until things go wrong, and jealousy puts an end to the once-close friendship they had. Two camps arise and the friends become enemies. What happens after that makes the show unprecedentedly hard and cold if you compare it to other shows in the industry.
The show is really popular among young people because it can be relatable. As an example, the word “cancer” is often used as this is very common in the street culture of the real underworld. The use of slang gives Mocro Maffia authenticity and this makes the show look like a depiction of reality. The show also has a lot of scenes that show an obscene amount of violence. From beheadings to rape, it really gets graphic. To illustrate this: there is a scene where a father finds his beheaded son’s head on the street. The show is of course made for entertainment, but that doesn’t mean that there is no impact on society.
It confirms the stereotype
This brings us to the concept of essentialism. Essentialism implies that people are considered to be essentially similar to everyone in their group and groups are fundamentally different from others. Essentialism is about how groups are represented in the media. Moroccans are a minority group in the Netherlands. This means that when Moroccans are portrayed in the media this often is done in a stereotypical manner. The stereotypical Moroccans are viewed as thieves, lazy, and are also often linked to criminality.
While the story that is told in mocro maffia can be very realistic it also contributes to the stereotypical character that exists right now. The show highlights these parts and shows Moroccans that are committing horrible crimes without any remorse. Seen as the show is so realistic it sadly confirms the prejudices some people may have which confirms the Moroccan stereotype.
A study done by social psychologist Ron Dotsch of Radboud University Nijmegen shows that our prejudices affect our visual stereotypes. This means that if we have a negative bias about Moroccans, we are more likely to see criminal faces as Moroccan than if we don’t have that bias. Thus that bias works unconsciously. This proves that the show is unconsciously contributing to the negative bias because it is confirming those prejudices.
The word “mocro” surrounded by negativity
This is evident from the fact that the word mocro has lost all its innocence. The word “mocro” is often used to describe someone that is Moroccan, a similar word like tatta; a word used to describe someone in the dutch community. The word “mocro” never had a negative charge, but nowadays it is almost heard every day on the news and linked to the mafia. It is now a collective term of a branch of organized crime that is known for terrible violence.
The show, therefore, contributes to making the word mocro more and more negative and with each episode, it is more linked to crime.
“Mocro” is developing into a swear word and that puts a stigma on the dutch-Moroccan community. Since “mocro” is linked to organized crime, it is inevitable that the word now has a negative charge to it. This is problematic because Mocro Mafia not only has a fictional storyline but also consists largely of true events. The show, therefore, contributes to making the word mocro more and more negative and with each episode, it is more linked to crime.
New chances for aspiring actors
Furthermore, there isn’t a lot of Moroccan content available on streaming platforms. And all the content that is made is strongly intertwined with the Moroccan ethnicity. There are almost no shows where a Moroccan actor plays a role that hasn’t to do anything with the Moroccan culture. Mocro Maffia is again a show where Moroccan actors only can play Moroccans. But the show also gives aspiring actors a chance to show their talents. The cast mainly consists of Moroccan actors that are new to the scene. This is positive because Mocro Maffia is creating acting jobs that wouldn’t exist for Moroccan actors otherwise. It would be nice to see a Moroccan actor playing a role that isn’t linked to his or her ethnicity but this is a step in a good direction.
“We didn’t want to show the heroic side – if any – of a lot of money, expensive cars, and Prada bags”
While Mocro Maffia contributes to the Moroccan stereotype it also tells a story where you can see that drug wars are tearing families apart. This is something that is going on in thousands of families in the Netherlands. An important positive aspect of Mocro Maffia is that they tried to show the dark side of it. Director and creative producer Thijs Römer says that they tried to stay away from putting violence or crime on a pedestal: “From the beginning, our starting point has been that we didn’t want to show the heroic side – if any – of a lot of money, expensive cars, and Prada bags. There is also no character in it that has a good ending, or that you would like to be.”
This is a good approach because many young people will watch these series. Even though the show may contribute to the negative stereotypes. By showing the bad and raw side of the criminal world in an entertaining way, some people might be kept off the streets. At the end of the day, all that matters is for there to be fewer victims.
Edited by: Younes Skalli