Getting down to business

I have had a better week this week. Nasty germ has subsided a little bit and things are on the move with the rest of life.

  1. Shep has returned from Norway and even *gasp* had some time off. We have been horse riding and eating out and going to the movies and lots of nice things like that. Later on we are going on the ferry to Mount Egdecombe for a walk and an ice cream.
  2. I have been getting down to it with my uni work. There is a terrifying amount of it but it is at least interesting and engaging.
  3. I have two new learning sets. One I have started working with and the next one I meet on Monday. Multi Agency Working set has already become a problem….After two whole years of shite group dynamics if anyone thinks i’m sitting back and complying for the sake of not arguing they are deleuded. I am many things but never a pushover.
  4. I have rejoined the Service User and Carer Consultative Group attached to my faculty. It has been good to be back. Sometimes it feels like I have my own fan club cheering me on through a difficult degree. At the least I feel like I have a few spare mothers.
  5. I am doing a module on disabilty. This week we have been discussing cultural representations of disability. There are often v stereotyped (either the super cripple – forrest gump or rain man or a villain – dr no, captain hook even or they are pity figures). Soaps are a bit guilty on this front. Disabled people are very underepresented in soaps even though they probably make up a huge number of the audience. Emmerdale I recall had a wheelchair user character for a long time. Eastenders has a toddler with downs syndrome but neither Hollyoaks or Corrie have any disabled characters (correct me if I am wrong). This sorts of presumes that the disabled are excluded from the very ordinary things that soap characters spend their time doing such as chatting in the pub, shopping, getting a hair cut, talking to neighbours in the street or going to work.

I’d like some thoughts on point 5 please xxxxx

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10 Responses to “Getting down to business”

  1. Sal Says:

    Hollyoaks had Adam Morgan for a long time – Paralysed after a road accident. He became a successful film director and moved to the US to make his mark on the film world – very positive storyline. This was about 5 years ago though, and since then, Hollyoaks has seemed to concentrate more on mental and emotional issues such as Schizophrenia and Bulimia rather than the physical.

    Corrie had Jim McDonald, who, for about 18 months, was confined to a wheelchair following a fall on a building site. This led to what could be seen as a negative plotline, where his wife started an affair with his carer and eventually left Jim. From what I recall, one of her main reasons was that Jim was no longer able to “perform”. The demise of the marriage led to Jim’s further spiral into heavy drinking.

    Can you tell I did Media Studies at uni? I’m a mine of useless information on this kind of stuff!

  2. Brennig Jones Says:

    This sorts of presumes that the disabled are excluded from the very ordinary things that soap characters spend their time doing such as chatting in the pub, shopping, getting a hair cut, talking to neighbours in the street or going to work.

    Or it also be presumed that the production team (inc writers) live such cozy lives that for one reason or another they don’t feel that putting people with an obvious disability is ‘good television’.

    I remember BBC’s first serious dip in to disability awareness with the female paraplegic character (sorry, can’t remember the name) in the laughingly poor production quality soap, Eldorado. Watching the characters behave around the disabled girl was awful and indicative of the lack of experience of the writers.

  3. punctuation Says:

    First of all: I hate the phrase “service user” – I know this is the current PC way to describe people…who…use…the…service. I wrote Care Industry software for a few years and spent loads of time putting such weird phrases into it – but I do have this overwhelming urge to saw off the eyebrows of anybody saying it out loud, using nothing more than a rabid TB-infected badger and a broken bottle of Thunderbird (peach, it stings more).

    But I digress.

    The problem with “soap operas” is that they do purport to reflect real life when in fact they do nothing of the sort. Unless, of course, you believe that all East-enders spend all their quality family time in the one and only local pub and endlessly discuss whether or not they have seen Bianca in the market because if she’s not then she must be down the arches (or Great Yarmouth). Oh, and everyone in East London has a lisp of some sort. Oh, and only 3 black people and four Italians live there. Of course Emmerdale is much more true-to-life. In all Northern towns it is a fact that the only employer is the local rag trade, the local corner shop or the bin men. No, wait, that’s not right because a quick check of all clothing I can lay my hands on reveals that clothes are no longer made in The North – unless you count The North of China.

    These soaps are written for a certain type of viewer and that viewer does not factor disability into their comfort zone (or at least the writers appear to believe this to be the case). Emmerdale’s Chris Tate was indeed the most well-known wheelchair-bound character. You could argue that Benny from Crossroads and the almost parallel character of “David” from Heartbeat were both portrayed as being possessed of “learning difficulties”. In both cases it seems this was used as a device to introduce comedy into a drama series. Later episodes of Heartbeat have arguably developed “David” into a more rounded character with plotlines that reveal he could have received a poor education or no exposure to a world outside his own village and that he is in fact able to out-think other supposedly world-wise and “smart” characters like “Aunt Peggy” and both Vernon and Bernie Scrips. My personal feeling is that this was an attempt to put a more positive spin and a more inclusive viewpoint on “David” i.e. there’s more than one way to be smart.

    Not that I ever watch soap operas.


  4. amillionpieces Says:

    I think the solution is to kill soap operas. They’re degenerative crap.

    I do agree about TV and media though. Why is it that things seem to have to be categorised as for disabled people, why can’t they just be included with everyone else? Why can’t everything have a proportional mix of people. Why not have deaf/blind/wheelchair bound etc characters just mixing in as usual?

    I have a bugbear about the Paralympics too, because I think it’s divisive. There should be an olympics, and that should include everyone, because it’s not fair that the achievements of disabled athletes aren’t given the exposure that others are. (Especially when they’ve often overcome far more to achieve what they do. They should be given equal footing)

  5. Dave59r Says:

    I disagree……during my life time i have known only a handful of people with obvious handicaps. It would be very difficult for a soap writer to include more than a ‘token’ disabled people into the story line of 40 odd charaters without making it appear too heavily influenced.

    Soaps make a point of including a representative of most of the minority communities (except the asylum/refugees issue that UK soaps havent yet faced up to) to represent the UK as a whole.

    Thats the limit of where im prepared to go talking about the evil that is Soap…….(unless we’re talking about the comedy program called ‘Soap’, that was of course pure genius)

  6. Sal Says:

    Dave has a point. None of my friends has what would be labelled as a “disability” in terms of bodily function. However, my immediate social circle includes 2 diabetics, an epileptic, 2 people with crohn’s, 2 people with asperger’s syndrome and 2 couples having IVF. That’s typical of my life, and yet I don’t see anyone making a effort to feature any of the above in Eastenders!

  7. pinkjellybaby Says:

    Hollyoaks doesn’t even have anyone vaguely ‘average’ looking or anything but beautiful people so I think you’d be hard pushed to get them to have someone with a disability, perhaps one of those models who was on the programme like ‘Britains Next Top Model’ but for girls with disabilities has a chance…..
    Although it does have: epileptic (steph), schitzophrenic (newt), HIV positive (Malachy) none of which probably count but it’s almost better than nothing?

  8. Midnight Says:

    What is it with women and bugs? Are you more prone to them than men? My better half seems to go from one to another almost seemlessly. Sometimes I think it’s just because she likes the TLC and chest rubs!

    Not really able to comment on disabilities and soaps as I don’t watch them (unless forced to and even then I don’t pay much attention). I think if there is an issue, it’s that it doesn’t really fit with the mainstream. Soaps tend to focus on what the writers think are story lines people can relate to and not many people can relate to living with a disability. Mind you I was forced to watch gay men kissing on Eastenders last week, so who knows!

  9. sungirltan Says:

    midnight – thats interesting because i made shep list all the people he knew with disabilities and they were all servicemen who had been injured whilst in the army. also there was a very obviously placed advert in the observer mag this weekend next to the piece about girls in the army for injured military folk, depicting a doll in army prit in a wheelchair with the caption ‘out of action man’. i’d even go as far as suggesting that you are more likely to know people during your career who aquire a disabilty through their professional life.

    in response to what people can relate to…this is an assumption on behalf of the writers etc but i disagree with its factual base. the writers assume we can relate to being hiv positive. relate to having an sti, yes, having hiv?? anyone who’s been for an hiv test lately who is hetrosexual and not an intravenous drug user will be told the group they are in is now so low risk that we need not bother with the test. And then theres the schitzophrenic character. again, knowing somewone with or experiencing depression or an eating disorder or any other mild mental illnesses is common but what newt experiences is not something that will happen to many people in the mainstram (not that i think this isnt worth covering as a story, i do).
    what i’m getting at is that soap writers rely too much on shock factor. they leap straight over mild contraversy which most people experience and go straight for the frankly implausable.

  10. Midnight Says:

    Tan – Yes you are spot on there, I do know more people through my career who have acquired disabilities through their professions. It would be good to see a soap actually feature a storyline where one of the characters goes to Afghanistan or Iraq and shows both sides of the story (home and away). I doubt it will ever happen though.

    I was probably guilty of assuming what people can relate to or otherwise. Equally the writers seem to assume that the shock factor needs to be employed. It often doesn’t need to be to raise awareness. Just the day to day stuff can do that better than any extreme examples.

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