Wednesday, 13 August 2008


Ever feel like you’ve been landed on the wrong planet? God knows I was!

I’ve never found soap-operas particularly good viewing, not when involving chaps on horseback in tweed, nor desperate and insufferably dull housewives. But the sordidness confronting me on watching EastEnders surpassed even my worst expectations - and that was some ten years ago. Or rather, it took me all of ten years to recover and get over its post-traumatic wretchedness. Less inspirational a setting or more narrow a space for imagination cannot be imagined. Certainly, one place in dire need of ethnic cleansing is Albert Square, the administrative headquarters of this particular Soap.

Pardon my hubris, but so far as the male cast are concerned, all I
remember is a couple of shavepate potato-headed gets who posed as the local
domestic heartthrobs - something, and here I mean absolutely no offence,
resembling a pair of anthropoid apes. Nor do you have to change a Chimpanzee's
brain pattern at all for it to discern that EastEnders portrays the worst of all
possible worlds on this here planet of the apes. And why, for the life of me,
anybody would want to wallow, on a daily basis, it in all its grimy
manifestations and indescribable piggery, is entirely beyond me.

But who am I to be picky?

I always thought soaps were all about escapism, not intellectual
bondage. The moral side of it does not bother me particularly, but this curious
borderline oppression inevitably has its effects on the public’s mind, which
then becomes further impregnated with the bigoted, limited outlook of the East
End community with their pro-alcoholic and anti-social aberrations. Wittingly or
unwittingly, the human being is here revealed in his ultimate dissipation.

So, why the hell should I be sympathetic?

Bondage, as you may not know, is a matter of neural synapses and
altered psychological states - not too difficult to either implement or inflict
by a director with the requisite gift of loathsomeness and the basic touch of
hidden dereliction. In its most effective form, it is an ideology that perverts
reality. In fact, studies have revealed that unconscious cultural assumptions
and prejudices emerge from such sordid social serializations. And this addictive
pattern is superimposed electronically on the matrix of your frontal lobes,
while at the same time you are drawn more and more deeply into the virtual life
- with the result that your horizon narrows until it seems to fill the whole of
your daily existence. Which particular condition, incidentally, was well
described by the excellent Gordon McCabe when - in a different
- he concluded that...

“...The internal system begins to decay and fail. The reproductive
drive shrivels. The layers of linguistic understanding erode, and eventually
even the kernel of self-awareness becomes brittle. Thought evaporates, and only
feeling and experience remain. At the end, you are without knowing that you are.
Beyond, there is nothing.”

And so EastEnders grinds on for another indistinctive, unmemorable



Anonymous said...

My sole memories of Eastenders consist of, on two separate occasions, stumbling across it while channel hopping, about 10 years ago. Each time a woman whined: "Graaaaaant!"

That was quite enough for me.

Richard Havers said...

Those synthetic drum beats cause a rush for the remote to switch over to absolutely anything.

All Shook Up said...

Valium for the masses.

This bit's a worry, though. "In fact, studies have revealed that unconscious cultural assumptions
and prejudices emerge from such sordid social serializations.
if true. Part of the Beeb's remit to educate, I suppose. I doubt if there are too many negative racial stereotypes in it, or thug-stupid children resulting from one-night-stand single mothers. Just gorblimey Cockneys with hearts of gold getting along as best they can - a modern morality tale.

Anonymous said...

I rather like Eastenders...! I feel like that chap with the curly hair on QI who always says the wrong answer everyone but him knows is wrong.... but oddly they dont know the right answer.

Jonathan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan said...

I think the attraction to soaps is to a great extent indicative of, and indeed caused by, the atomised, fragmented conditions of modern life in The Wasteland.

In these series people can live out, perhaps, some kind of fantasy of being apart of a community where vivid things happen and you get to know people in your community -how life used to be more of the time.

I myself have phased in and out of attendance. I adored Dallas of course. Who couldn't as an 8 year old! Re Eastenders specifically I liked Dirty Den and Angie's dramas in the early years and carried on watching until Arthur went mad. Then I paused, becoming as I did rather other-worldly for a few years, and I watched it again for about 2 years in the mid 90s when I went through a 'getting in touch with popular culture' episode.

I see soaps as harmless, and at best potentially instructive, bread and circuses, and wonder how much it is mere snobbery/intellectual snobbery to deride them.

As I have long felt, there is more to life than, and more important things in life than, being an intellectual or high art connoseur (not to deride the value of that, however,).

On the other hand, there certainly should be more high cultural content than there is in our media, especially on the BBC.

Anonymous said...

Suffering traumatic stress can affect your emotions as well as your body and the two are so connected that it can be hard to tell the difference. For instance, traumatic stress can cause you to lose concentration, forget things, or have trouble sleeping. It may be difficult to determine on your own whether these symptoms are because you do not feel well physically or because you are still upset.