Sunday, 9 October 2011

Television is a wife beater

Something struck me the other day. No, it literally struck me. I was in the fake house/ wine bar/ pub/ knicker factory, when 'whump', a hand/ shoe/ baseball bat landed on my head & I was out, cold. The next thing I know, the fake building I'm in is ablaze. I stagger out, to be confronted by the Cartoon Evil Fiancé that everyone knows is a Cartoon Evil Fiancé- everyone but stupid, deluded me.

At gun point, Cartoon Evil Fiancé then sets about brutally sexually assaulting me, calling me mysoginist, offensive names, to confirm that I am worthless piece of shit after all.

After an heroic rescue by A Manly Man, I recover, but plunge head long into a corrosive alcohol/drug addiction as my life continues to disintegrate.

My next persecution comes in the form of being wrongly accused of a spurious crime.
Not letting the grass grow under my weary feet, I am convicted, sentenced & jailed,only to be released on a technicality, known legally as 'early release due to need to punish her a little bit more' or 'actress finished panto acquittal'.

On release I begin to re-build my life. But I'm subdued, lack confidence (can't think why) & I'm not fit to babysit a gerbil, let alone form a normal relationship. I am now a tragic loner, to add to my list of sadness.

Before my ordeals, I was clever, successful, glamorous, sexy, confident with an attitude & fast wit & mouth to match. I was heading for my 40s, but looking good on it. No kids, no family life, but it wasn't what I wanted (but I did really, isn't that what every woman craves?)

Enjoying my alcoholism, I nurse a glass of wine in the fake pub & look over at the married woman with kids. I wonder if she's any happier, being as her husband humiliated her by having an affair with a woman half her age?

She has beautiful but troublesome ingrates for kids (bad mothering,that) but she's a saggy frump who's seen better days, so everyone understands why her virile, 'middle aged but no erectile dysfunction here, thanks' husband was 'literally forced' to look elsewhere.Or he was witlessly seduced by a naughty little temptress. Oooh, racey!

Yeah, it's Saggy Frump's fault, really. She wants to be a bit more independent, sexy & glam like me (oh, that's quite dangerous though) & not a boring mumsy- mum with a menial part time job (who then has to overcome a life threatening illness incase public humiliation & heartbreak aren't really punishing enough).

I ponder whether, I should have become a housewife, but, ah, that too leads to ruin & heartbreak. Hmm, seems I just can't win.

Well, at least I'm not an elderly woman as I'd only get wheeled out to be laughed at /humiliated/ pitied or articulate a moral position not covered by the ridiculous plot.

Or I could be Tart with a With a Heart or a Cartoon Evil temptress/nutcase whose absurd personality always leads to nowhere/jail.

Basically, whatever happens to me, I do know that I am Soap Character Woman. I am to be raped, beaten, humiliated, marginalised, degraded, derided, used, abused, pointed & laughed at, even killed horribly. My boyfriends/husbands are Ne'er Do Wells or wealthy, nasty types who I submit my foolish heart to, confirming again that we women just ask for it, don't we.

We are, however, undeserving of devotion and/or nothing will stop us from dismantling another woman's marriage. But then, she is Soap Character Woman too, so she had it coming.

OK, enough of the 1st person narrative device.

Let's face it. Soaps are Televisual Arse but they are powerful, dramatic vehicles, viewed by millions- mostly aimed at women. So, it would be a joyous & refreshing day when Soaps depicted women as most of us really are. Nuanced, 3 dimensional, strong, capable, loveable, flawed & funny- just because we damn well are & not because we are tragic heroines & lived 'I've seen a thing or two' lives.

The Carlas, Sallys, Mollys, Elsie Tanners, Bet Lynches & Ritas, that have had their faces ground into their own fictional dirt, are not forces of nature that are beacons of hope for women everywhere. They 2 dimensional disaster areas, that Soap makers use to convey the following message:

"This is what happens to women. We reinforce the notion that it is normal for women to suffer & be abused. It is normal for men to commit horrible acts & walk away, unscathed & often unpunished. It is normal.

Women, keep watching this shit & don't do anything about your own life, which may see you achieving great things with that massive brain of yours & not watching our crap- filled 30 minutes. Don't let those ratings drop, ladies or we are out of our well-paid gig.

Watch the hapless rape victim attempt suicide & fall off the edge. It is normal, it could be you. Soap Woman can settle down or live it up, it's no odds to us. We are Soap Storyliners & it's our job to punish Soap Women, whatever they do. It is normal."

I don't want to see women depicted on televison as victims & only victims. Sure, bad things happen to some women but that is not all of us, all the time. I don't know about you but I manage to struggle through most weeks without my life being shredded by yet another humiliating, vicious incident.

Yes, they are Soaps. It's their job to scandalise & sensationalise. However, producers & writers, take notice of this:

Get off your creatively lazy arses & come up with something more novel than stereotyping a female character, punishing her & making her schlep about a bucket full of woe. And don't give me that rubbish about giving the audience a gripping drama that reflects real life in some half arsed attempt to help process 'issues'. For Carla's sake, don't normalise brutality against women through the telly.

It is not normal, it is dangerous. Stop it.

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