Friday, 21 January 2011

In Which I Agree With Julie Burchill…

It's hard to watch a soap – sorry, serial drama – for a week these days without having a comforting voice over the closing credits inform you: "If you have been affected by any of these issues, call in confidence on..." at some point.
Oh, I’m with her there! Nothing irritates me more.
But in recent years, this has come to seem less like an invitation to the genuinely desperate and traumatised, in the tradition of the Samaritans and Childline, and more like a circle-jerk of sexed-up sorrow.
Probably because there’s just so damn much of it. Along with the now-frequent warnings on news reports that ‘Some viewers might find these scenes distressing’…
… in a sort of soapy Stockholm syndrome, those who storyline serial dramas have taken onboard the critics' sneer that soaps are just a way for silly people to kill time rather than live lives, and thus try to give them worth and weight by turning them into sort of Public Service Broadcasts
It’s merely the fig-leaf of respectability under which they can conceal yet more misery porn…

12 comments:

PT said...

The "If you have been affected.." fig leaf you mention was absent from the last Silent Witness two-part drama. It depicted some seriously traumatic events involving soldiers and their wives, some or all of which will be heartbreakingly familiar to army families. I wonder why they were offered no helpline.

stanfordrivers said...

I've always wanted to phone in and say "Yes, I've been affected by the appalling acting.".

Anonymous said...

PT:
I, thankfully, can't remember having ever seen such an announcement after an episode of a crime drama - despite them being, by their nature, full of potentially upsetting scenes. Perhaps the broadcasters, sensibly, think that anyone that emotionally fragile probably isn't going to be watching a drama about people dying violently in the first place.
Perhaps they have a lower opinion of people who routinely watch soaps - can't say I entirely blame them there.

Anonymous said...

My current "favourite" - which is to say it drives me nuts - comes courtesy of the Beeb - Radio 7, which broadcasts mainly from the back catalogue - the number of times a presenter chimes in with "the following programme was made at a time when attitudes to x, y and z were different and might therefore contain content that etc. etc " ...

Jiks said...

So glad I have not had a TV since 2000. Doesn't sound like I am missing anything.

Channel hopper said...

It's CYA TV... Cover Your Arse in case someone objects.

Remember Mary Whitehouse? She and her mates got a huge thrill from complaining about TV in the 'seventies, all of which would seem incredibly tame now.

But the one thing that differentiates normal people from serial-soap watchers these days is that these people usually; a) have a fair idea it is all made up, and b) they know where the off switch is on their telly.

WV= Berryed = submerged in blackcurrants, raspberries or strawberries

phiangle said...

I cannot stand all the utter dross that passes for popular entertainment. Eastenders is like torture, the other buncombe on is just simply awful. It might be slightly sad, but the last thing I enjoyed watching was the series of Christmas Lectures. Life can be miserable enough without watching others artifical misery too!

FrankC said...

Even the Christmas Lectures have gone downhill. Compare the Eric Laithwaite lectures with recent offerings.
"Elf'n'Safetee" gorn mad.

JuliaM said...

"...absent from the last Silent Witness two-part drama. It depicted some seriously traumatic events involving soldiers and their wives..."

You're right, it was - I watched that one.

"I've always wanted to phone in and say "Yes, I've been affected by the appalling acting."."

:D

"..a presenter chimes in with "the following programme was made at a time when attitudes to x, y and z were different and might therefore contain content that etc. etc " ..."

Oh, good grief!

JuliaM said...

"It's CYA TV... Cover Your Arse in case someone objects. "

Ah, cunning!

"Even the Christmas Lectures have gone downhill. Compare the Eric Laithwaite lectures with recent offerings.

"Elf'n'Safetee" gorn mad."


Yes, I always used to look forward to those, but the last one I watched - year before last - seemed very 'dumbed down' to me, so I didn't bother this year.

phiangle said...

The way I look at is that, dumbing down aside, the christmas lectures and programs of its ilk are positive and bringing education into the living room in quite an enjoyable way. Whereas watching Hollyoaks is like having the IQ points smashed out your head with a blunt wooden spoon.

Captain Haddock said...

Anyone either sad or stupid enough to watch "Soaps" richly deserves to be "traumatised" .. with a 2lb Ball Pein Hammer ..

Ahh .. Prof Eric Laithwaite .. now there was a man who knew his stuff & had the rare gift of being able to get it across, even to non-scientifically minded people, such as me ..