A reflection on media affective disorder. (MAD).
At last night’s meeting of our writers’ group, one member (who has just signed a great book deal – good on ya, Jean!) reported that a couple of historical novels she has recently read both flew in the face of credibility by ‘pasting on’ a happy ending where a tragedy was on the cards (and in the historical context would have been far more likely).
My reaction to this was, If only this were the case on T.V.
Let’s start (if we must) with Eastenders. As it happens, I rarely watch it and lately I’ve been very glad that this is the case. As a family who has suffered a cot death, we don’t object to its being included in drama or fiction of any kind, and if it’s sympathetically dealt with (that’s sympathetically in the broad sense) it can be a good way of alerting parents to the dangers and disseminating reliable information. But leaving aside the writers’ decision to hype up the story with further hysteria, do we actually need or want this kind of thing thrust upon us in the midst of Yuletide celebration? The real news was bad enough for goodness sake, but time and again these people feel the need to bring us down from a (hopefully) full stomach and feeling of reasonable (if transitory) contentment by confronting us with sensationalised despair.
Corrie is not much better. Okay, they did need something pretty spectacular to celebrate the jubilee (and I did enjoy the BBC 4 programme about Tony Warren) but I can’t help feeling a swathe of mangled bodies and a couple of deaths (don’t let me start on the Gurning Nick and Stupid John subplots) was not only OTT but also an encouragement for other soaps to embark on a doom and disaster spree.
And finally. The Archers. I won’t add too much to the words expended on the death of poor old Nigel (which pales in comparison to above scenarios), BUT when Vanessa Whitburn claimed on Radio 4 that to have a birth and a death was ‘somehow iconic’ I resorted, I’m afraid, to shouting at the radio.
No, actually, it’s not iconic, it’s a cliche.
Now I would have had Nigel surviving but permanently disabled, wheeling around for many years to come causing just as angst amongst the clan as Peter Barlow. But then they didn’t ask me, did they?