Monday, 3 January 2011

If You Have Been Affected By Eastenders...

Da..da..da.da..da. DA...DAAAAAAAHHHH..

"If you have been affected by anything in tonight's Eastenders, please phone....."

"Hello, how can I help...."
"We do understand tonight's episode has upset a great many people.  How can we help, caller?"
*more sobbing*
"Please take your time.  We're here to listen.  I have a list of advice lines, and I can pass you on when I know what aspect you most need help with.  I'll just sit and listen for a moment, okay?"
*broken cries calm down*  "Thank you for being there, I just didn't know where to start.  I'm not sure what's upset me most.  Is it okay if I just babble for a bit?"
"Certainly caller.  There were many issues raised tonight, and my job is to find you the right support.  In your own time."
"Okay, thank you.  I'll just think a bit, about the bit that got me most upset.  Do you have a helpline for people who've had bad breastfeeding experiences?"
"You found that part, when she wasn't able to breastfeed Tommy, distressing?"
"Oh yes, yes.  The same thing happened to me, and I wasn't able to feed my baby, and I saw Ronnie tonight, and I thought... I thought, if only someone would tell her, what no one ever told me!"
"And what was that caller?"
"That you need to take your bra and dress off first.  If only I'd known!"  *sobs*
"I quite understand caller.  Did you feel bullied by those who did breastfeed, I have a line here to a wonderful helpline paid for by an international baby food company, who understand the issues you were going through...?"
"No, no, I'm fine now, Jack was so helpful, going straight out and buying the formula, that calmed me down.... *begins wailing once more...*"
"In your own time, caller."
"Okay, I was wondering if you had a helpline about eating disorders?"
"We do... although...."
"... because clearly, with both babies being anorexic..."
"Well, you know, with both babies not needing food.  Just lying there, silent, and awake, for hours and hours and hours on end, and not once crying for food.  It was just so obvious that they had an unnaturally suppressed appetite.  It doesn't make sense otherwise.  I mean no one even checked a nappy!"
"Although, of course, that wasn't the most obvious trauma, as a viewer.  Programmes just don't take their responsibility to the viewers, and their real lives, seriously... *sob*"
"That's why we are here... do you..."
"Do you have a helpline number for early signs of dementia?"
"Uhm, yes, ..."
"Oh good, that got me really upset, Roxy's memory loss."
"I'm sorry...?"
"When she was told that baby Tommy had died, and she completely forget the 5 minutes it took to get past Ronnie, as she was sure Ronnie was telling her baby James was dead, and then she stood there crying, and couldn't bear the pain.  To forget that overnight... will her storyline develop about her early onset memory loss do you know..?"

"Ehm,.. no, sorry, we don't have those details."
"Pity.  *cries again*  This is really helping you know, talking it out.  do you have a helpline for those unable to process sizes?"
"I'm sorry, I don't understand..?"
"You know, market stall holders who sell one size baby grow for a preemie, and an 8lb whopper term, and they both fit and no one can see the difference..?"
"Ehmm,, no.... "
"Pity.  I suppose that's just a silly one though.... *hysterical tears*"
"There are no silly ones, caller, all our feelings are valid...."
"That's so nice for you to say.  I feel better now.  I think I can actually talk about the really upsetting bits now."
"I'm listening...."
"For instance... do you have a helpline for Lochia Anonymous?"
"Oh, I know it's silly, but I look at those two wonderful women, Kat & Ronnie, and I feel ashamed about my own experience.  I mean there they are, in the same clothes, for over 14 hours, and they've slept in them, or run through the streets of London with a hospital gown on.. and they've not had to change their bleeding pads once."
"I'm sorry caller, we ask you not to swear, or use abusive language on calls."
"Please don't talk about *bleep* pads.  Did you mean iPads?"
"No, I was talking about how ashamed I was, that I leaked after childbirth.  It's obviously not normal."
"Do you want a childbirth support line...?"
"No.  I'd rather just talk it through a bit longer, if that's all right with you?"
"You're in charge of the call, caller."
"Oh good.  I was wondering 'tho... "
"Yes, caller...?"
"Do you have a helpline for those with sight impairment..?"
"Yes, but, again, I'm not sure..."
"Nothing, I suppose I'm being silly again.  Maybe I need to step back from the events and look at it as TV?"
"If you think that will help you..."
"Well, it does.  Do you have any helplines about TV?
"About TV...?"
"Yes, you know, maybe a Todorov Syndrome one?"
"I'm sorry caller...? "
"Well, Narrative Structure Failure then? You know, beginnings, middles, ends, not knowing what way they should go, not knowing when to actually move onto the next scene and stop looking at the same character for too long. Emotional Pornography and Soaps Helpline..?  Have you got one of those?"
*frantic key pressing* "Ehm, sorry caller, not quite sure ... just give me a moment...."
"Or maybe something to do with Cause & Effect? Logic and rational thought abuse?"
*ping* "Ah, we do have something here... the Spock's Smile Society.. they help you deal with plot twists that break inner logic for a cheap shot ending, would that help?"
"Maybe.... "
*clicking of keys"  "Mmm... not sure that's your best bet actually, another file is opening up.. never found this part of the system before... We do have a few on Delayed Ejaculation... how long can you overshoot the shot...?"
"That sounds like we're in the right area.... "
*excited*"Caller, I think I know which helpline you need!"
"Really?  Oh Good, which one?"
"We have one named Support For Pig Shit Ignorant BBC Programme Makers.  It's internal, so I can put you through directly."
"Oh, that sounds the right one, please put me through."
"Certainly.  Good Luck, I hope we've helped this evening. Transferring now."

"Welcome to the BBC Support for Pig Shit Ignorance Helpline.  Please listen carefully to the following options.
If you are a middle class professional, who wishes to write drama about subjects you have no research in, and no interest in, please press No 1, and leave your contact details.  We will contact you shortly.
If you are a female middle class professional, willing to defend in print, all BBC storylines about how hard it is to be a career women and be taken seriously as a mother, and I formula fed, CIOd, naughty stepped and left my baby with a Nanny 18 hours a day...  and all my children are just fine and we have a wonderful relationship when they come back from boarding school... press 2 and leave your husband's contact details.  We will check with him if the 90 hour a week workload we'll expect of you, is fine with him.  Unless you are divorced, in which case hang up.
If you are not middle class, and you are phoning to complain about a factual accuracy contained in any BBC programme, please press 3 and leave your contact details.  We will get an adult literacy scheme to contact you, and they can teach you to read and write.  Then you can understand our programmes betterer.
If you are a person who has experienced, directly, a situation portrayed in a BBC programme, and wish to complain about our accuracy or ridiculous attempts to shoe horn plot into any shape we desire... please hang up and eff off.  We don't make programmes just for you.  Try to think of the rest of the nation.  You are not qualified to understand Good Drama, dickhead.
Thank you for calling the BBC.  A thought before you go: have you paid your licence fee?"

all images copyright the BBC 2011 and are used for satirical purposes only


Karen Carney said...

Thank you for putting what most of us were thinking. This storyline has more holes than a pair of fishnet tights and they are going to drag it out for much longer as I understand *bangs head*

Morgan said...

Apparently there is a small matter of a club foot, that has both mysteriously appeared, and disappeared. Hope that's wrong!

happyjadsgirl said...

Tbh, I couldn't imagine any portrail Luke this covering every single detail, I think it's really positive that the BBC are broaching such taboo subjects so that they become mire accessible and exceptable to the general public. Yes there are issues involved that I'd like to see them deal with better, but ronnie being given support to bf another womans child isn't particularly one of them, the fact that roxy has been so supportive of bf in the past and that ronnie may have been bf James says to me that it might be a part of the story line to add to suspicion. I think its fine that they miss bits out, like changing pads, since i dont particular want to watch a ronnie or kat use the loo....I think there are specialist videos for things like that.....I also think that it's fine for programs like this to fudge some details a little like the babies outfits....but then I don't remember them discussing sizes so perhaps they bought a prem and a newborn *shrug*.

Basically, although a lot of bits were implausible, that's just the beauty of eastenders. I thoroughly enjoyed the misery of the story line, had a good blub and am expecting lots more to come, because this is what stenders has always been and that's why I watch it!

I did laugh a lot at your article though :)

Morgan said...

Eastenders did excellent work on a SIDS storyline, decades ago. They worked on it wonderfully, and carried on with the family for a few years, with the mother going through a new pregnancy, and a new death.

So this is not ground breaking, nor even that innovative. When they did it properly, it was both.

That it is NOT about SIDS, but is about torturing a character on screen, so the audience can get their rocks off on her continued suffering.

Fair enough - we do like our women being tortured and abused, and we do like the jollies it gives us. otherwise we wouldn't watch soaps. Soaps do allow us to express, and process, the inherent misogyny and neglect of female experiences in our culture. That has such an long term element of British Working Class soaps, we'd be lost without it.

However, they have done it so badly. In such an overwhelmingly incompetent and arrogant manner. It was dreadful drama, with appalling inconsistencies and completely illogical structure.

And it's insulting for them to spend so much money, producing such low grade emotional tat. The standard of drama was appalling, no matter how effective the torture of Ronnie and Kat was conveyed.

As viewers, we are complicit in that torture, and we have gone into voyeuristic overload on such emotional pornography, when we allow the spectacle for suffering, to subsume dramatic standards.

If you are going to set up such torture for your females, you should at least do the decency of doing it properly. Otherwise you are showing your audience nothing but contempt.

Something the BBC have got very good at, as they have pushed for global domination and stopped being a responsible media outlet.

And we both give them permission, pay them to do it, and then stand by the concept that they do it in our name.

Not in mine.

Louise said...

Totally agree with Morgan. The SIDs storyline is not new and has recently been tackled exceptionally well on Emmerdale and was used by EastEnders before for Ali and his wife (if I remember rightly).
This particular storyline has nothing really to do with SIDs awareness and everything to do with wanting inflated viewing figures and lots of drama reported in the press.
If they did wish to address the SIDs issue they could have done so without a ridiculous storyline where two babies were swapped and NEITHER parent of the swappee baby noticed.
I'm sorry but that's bull, you don't fail to recognise your baby isn't yours!

Morgan said...

That's before we get tonight's nonsense that a preemie baby weighed more than an 8lb full term!

Or that the post-mortem will fail to notice a club foot mysteriously appearing on a baby who cannot possibly have gained over 25% of its body weight in less than 24 hours of life.

I'm totally sickened to hear a real Mum, whose baby died, gave support to the BBC and actors, totally unaware she was doing so, in the context of the baby swap. The BBC need to apologise to all they hood winked over this storyline - especially that mother!

Anonymous said...

As someone who has lost a child, the part I find most insulting is that they think we would simply replace our dead child with someone elses.
We dont want another one. We want ours.

Morgan said...

And clearly, that crucial fictional dynamic was not discussed with anyone who had knowledge and experience of the situations that do arise, and then actively hidden from such during the actual discussions that then took place.

I'm sorry for your loss, and am upset on your behalf.

It really is vile. And has nothing to do with being upset they 'dared' to show something so important or upsetting. They are being self-important and it is their crass actions, that are upsetting.

Anonymous said...

We grow a thick skin, those of us who lose a child. We have to in order to survive. I have learnt to ignore or at least bite my tongue in the 5 years since my daughter died. But this has upset and agitated me so much I am shocked at my reaction. I am so angry that we are being portrayed as demented and dangerous. I have to tell you, as an overwatcher of daytime tv, it is not the first time this image has been portrayed. It seems to be a fall back for lazy scriptwriters. It stinks.

Morgan said...

As someone who has studied, and taught, gender dynamics in television and cinema, I'd argue it is part of the social marginalisation of women, and their stories.

Women are still perceived as not being able to control their emotions, and to be The Mad Woman In The Attic, when they demand emotional respect for their own experiences. Women are not supposed to be able to cope with 'real' tragedy. It turns us mad, as our wombs run around our body.

Hence the rape victim is better dead, than others around her, especially male relatives, have to deal with the aftermath and social implications of a rape.

And motherhood is the traditional dichotomy point of all female experience. You are either Tracy Barlow, a bad mother with no way to put your child first, or you are the sainted uber mother, who will crumble completely if anything happens to their child. Madness is the only option, if your child dies.

It is such a time worn and offensive image, of who women are, and how they survive. Given how many children have been torn from mother's arms, through famine, war and disease, over the millennia, if such were true, we'd have died out as a race.

Sue, Ali's wife, ended up in a psychiatric unit, the first time round. But it was done less sensationally.

But it is offensive in the extreme, when women's narratives are only told within such demeaning and stereotypical confines. And that it is just a drama, is no defence - that is the point of drama, to allow us to explore such things, not merely vomit up loathsome myths en masse.

One can only wonder how they are going to get Ronnie out of this. they have so clearly shot themselves in the foot, and no amount of soft-soaping is going to make this one palatable.

Assholes. :-)

Jeanette said...

Thank you Morgan, your last comment hits the nail on the head so perfectly.
My daughter died almost 18 months ago and this storyline has upset me more than I realised it could, and I don't even watch the programme. You don't have to though, it's everywhere.
Anyone who thinks it's just tv should come and live my life (or the life of any bereaved parent) for a day, and see how it really feels to be avoided by people who believe the baby swap crap.

Oh yeah, and what about the Dad's? I'm guessing they are portrayed as the stereotypical strong and emotionless?

Lucy, Coire Alpacas said...

LOL at your article, and I agree, very lame scriptwriting. Woeful.

mama*moon said...

Had me supressing my laughter so much (so as not to wake my son) that i'm practically crying... brilliant so brilliant! I think i love you!

mama*moon said...

Clearly my previous comment was just about the blog post as i apreciated the comical highlighting of the train wreck that is the Eastenders super plop.. i mean plot. I hadn't read the other comments and wouldn't want to come accross as insensitive to the discussion there. It's true that these soaps are doing a terrible dis-service to women and being truely offensive to those who've had real experiences of grief, abuse etc
All this will filter into the unconcious of our culture and serve to keep the sheeple ignorant & bleating for more. It's for that precise reason i stopped waching TV. I still get EastEnders updates from my mum though whether i like it or not!