The urban legend that has kept everybody talking over the past three decades is no stranger to the citizens across the UK, especially the area of Merseyside. Akinwale Arobieke, known as the ”Purple Aki”, is a 56 years old black male who became recognised by his strange obsession of stalking his victims and squeezing their muscles. ”He became something of a ‘modern day bogeyman’ known for approaching younger males and striking up conversations about weight training, before touching and measuring their muscles, and inviting them to squat his body weight.” (The Daily Mail,2016)
” The Man Who Squeezes Muscles” aims to explore the real story and to understand the purposes beyond Purple Aki’ s acts of assault, harassment and manslaughter that have terrified people from all over the world.
The approach that the programme takes is a simple, yet effective one because it proves clearly the impact and the consequences that Purple Aki had over his victims. The story-teller of the programme is Benjamin Zand, a local young man who was driven to find out who is the real Purple Aki by going to the main and primary source for it : the people who have been either his victims or have been personally affected by him. Therefore, by hearing the real and unbelievable experiences of the victims, such as Gary Kelly and the way he tragically passed away while running from Purple Aki made the viewing experience more personal and insightful.
However, not everyone thought about Purple Aki as a threat and considered that the story actually had a funny twist within it. ”Of course, you can see why people find his story funny – the image, the name, the fact he seems to prey exclusively on big, preening gym-heads, the 10 year court order against touching biceps, getting banned from being anywhere near St. Helen’s Rugby Club. You couldn’t write it.” (The BBC,2017) “At the 2008 Glastonbury festival, someone brought a banner bearing the legend “arr mate!!! Purple Aki jus’ gripped us in a Portaloo”, below a photo of Arobieke’s baleful-looking mugshot.” (BBC News,2016) Moreover, the reason why his nickname became ”Purple Aki” was because of his dark-coloured skin. ”It seemed like a bizarre fairy tale, borne of 1980s neuroses about sexuality and race. The nickname itself was racially charged – the suggestion being he was “so black he’s purple”. (BBC News,2016)
The programme includes some opinions of regular British people who were asked by the story-teller about the identity of Purple Aki and he is reffered as the ”big black” man who has been seen and feared by everybody. ” The BBC3 film, available online and first broadcast in September, starts: “Purple Aki, a name that’s whispered in the parks and playgrounds of Merseyside … a threat made to kids … watch out or Purple Aki will get you.” (The Guardian,2016) This approach surely is beneficial to the film because it portrays essential traits of the character that the story revolves around and overall, it gives the viewers a better understanding of who he is and what he looks like. ” One alleged victim says “He is just purple and huge.” (The Guardian,2016)
The exchange between Benjamin and the Purple Aki’s victims brings a valuable insight into the story-telling because it reveals in detail the emotional weight that each individual story holds within and simultaneously, this add depth and context to the whole story of who is Purple Aki. By bringing in front of the cameras the people who truly experienced the terror and the assaults of Purple Aki, the viewers get to see him in an unfiltered and honest manner, namely as a troubled and mysterious man that is and will always remain an enigma to the world.
- Mail Online. (2018). Muslce pervert dubbed ‘Purple Aki’ has his ban lifted. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3576790/Muscle-obsessed-pervert-dubbed-Purple-Aki-barred-ten-years-grabbing-men-s-biceps-ban-LIFTED-vowing-reinvent-himself.html [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].
- BBC News. (2018). Searching for Aki – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-6d083913-0bfb-4988-8cd8-d126fa6dcff1 [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].
- BBC Three. (2018). IMHO: Should we laugh at urban legend Purple Aki –the man who squeezes muscles? – BBC Three. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/9e756e96-30e8-4822-9e69-ff8271f689b6 [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].
- Hattenstone, S. and Allison, E. (2018). Bodybuilder’s race hate claim against BBC investigated by police. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/oct/21/bodybuilder-purple-aki-race-hate-claim-bbc-investigated [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].