Get bent: music, film, books and more about corruption | Television & radio


Written in response to the accusations of corruption within Fifa around the 2014 World Cup, Declan McKenna’s Brazil is multifaceted in its outlook, and all the more impressive when you consider that he was only 15 years old when he wrote it. Unraveling the “global north” snobberies that tend to assume everyone is striving for a life of upwardly mobile excess, it remains the brightest jewel in the singer’s festival set, somewhat ironically encouraging the kind of terrace-worthy singalongs that a crooked footy exec would pay big bucks for. Jenessa Williams


Women scorned … Widows. Photograph: Lifestyle pictures/Alamy

Chicago’s nickname the Windy City is said to originate not just from the city’s extreme climate but also its politicians – bruisers who were regarded as full of hot air. Steve McQueen’s unsparing thriller Widows takes us there, unveiling a world of political jostling and dirty money, where behind every squeaky-clean government initiative supporting racial justice is a white man with a famous last name and a safe full of secrets. Viola Davis plays Veronica, a teacher’s union delegate who gets caught up with a local crime boss and must plan a heist to save her life. She brings together a group of similarly endangered women, each grappling with what it means to gain independence in a world tipped against them. Rebecca Liu


The Roys are back in town… Succession. Photograph: Macall Polay/AP

Corruption on drip feed. Inspired by the media empires of real-life families (ahem, no names here), Succession follows the devilish deeds of a father, his children, his employees and everyone caught in the crossfire in the battle for succession. Logan Roy (Brian Cox) shows not a sliver of integrity as he pits his children against each other, engages in criminal cover-ups and plays politics. But it’s not all down to him. There’s not one likable character: even Cousin Greg, who had some potential to be the moral heart of the series, joins in the blackmailing and backstabbing. It’s deliciously awful in every way. Hollie Richardson


American Tabloid James Ellroy

James Ellroy describes American Tabloid, his novel about the murder of JFK as “an epic in which the assassination is only one crime in a long series of crimes … a novel of collusion … a tabloid sewer crawl through the private nightmares of public policy”. It shows a US that was never innocent, where there were criminals on every rung of the government ladder. Everything and everyone is corrupted – and that includes Ellroy’s readers. He makes racing through this catalog of degradation feel almost addictive. He makes us start rooting for the bad guys. He makes us enjoy crime. And then feel terrible about it. This is one dark epic. Sam Jordison


An Election Entertainment.
Political animals … An Election Entertainment. Photograph: Lordprice Collection/Alamy

It’s Partygate, Georgian-style, in An Election Entertainment, Hogarth’s rollicking revelation of just how corrupt 18th-century politics was. By election time, voters are being seduced not with fancy words but free oysters, gallons of punch, music and lobsters. It is all very edifying. One man has passed out over his seafood, another has been playfully bricked in the head. Other scenes in the series of four paintings show money changing hands and dead people voting. It’s the world of “old corruption”, supposedly swept away by the 1832 Great Reform Act. We wouldn’t expect inappropriate partying from our politicians now, would we? Jonathan Jones

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