Friday, November 30, 2007

Not evil, just misunderstood

I've never really bought into the view of David Platt as the spawn of the devil, although it's undoubtedly good for the ratings.
Firstly, let's consider the poor boy's history. His father, with whom he had a good relationship, had a string of affairs and finally upped sticks and left. Then his mother married a serial killer who tried to murder the entire family.

Then he discovered from his late grandmother's diaries that his mother wanted to have him aborted, which led to last year's memorable Christmas lunch scene.

Secondly, David is a typical teenager. What the writers have done is to take typical teenage traits and push them to extremes of behaviour. These include solipsism, lack of empathy and a failure to understand the consequences of actions or distinguish between a bit of a laugh and genuine harm to others. These traits have all been confirmed by recent research in neuroscience. They don't fully disappear until the very end of the teenage years. If David's behaviour is worse than the average, his aforementioned history provides an explanation.

Between them, the writers and Jack P Shepherd have given us some of the most memorable scenes in the programme's history. Who will ever forget the "three witches, three bitches" scene on the factory roof when David pointed an imaginary gun at his nearest and dearest? It was one of those breathtaking moments when the Street rose as far above the 'soap' genre as Everest above the Pennines.
And finally, this year, Jack P Shepherd is getting the critical acclaim he deserves. He was a fine actor when he first entered Corrie as a small child. Helen Worth (Gail Platt) once said that she could act her guts out in a scene only to have him completely steal it at the end, often with just a look. He's had many years of scene-end reaction shots now. But he never over-eggs them. Although his 'evil look' has become a party piece, there's always a naturalism and restraint in his acting.
There's much speculation about how the current storyline will end. We've already had echoes of Richard Hillman in David's behaviour so it will be hard for the writers to resist something spectacular. If Jack P Shepherd leaves the Street in a body bag or a prison van (rather than the usual taxi) it will be a sad day for Corrie fans. But we can be sure he won't be out of work for very long.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Phoney martyrs

Catholic harridan Christina Odone has joined those arguing that the religious are a persecuted minority in Britain today.
Has she not noticed that the bishops of the Church of England sit in our legislature as of right.
Or that our Head of State is also the Head of the Church of England.
Or that 'faith schools' are spreading across the country like a rash, actively encouraged by the Government.
Or that the Today programme has a 'Thought For The Day', from which non-religious contributions are banned.
She must be aware of the last because she has been a regular contributor to Thought For The Day.
It was in that slot that Ann Atkins once famously insulted gay listeners to the programme with her loathsome Aga-land bigotry.

On C4 news tonight, Odone cited as evidence the fact that poor Tony Blair was afraid to mention his religious beliefs from fear of being thought a nutter. (Presumably that was why he launched one of his election campaigns standing at a lectern in front of a stained glass window).
Coincidentally, 'nutter' was the term that one of Odone's fellow Christians applied to Richard Dawkins this week for having the temerity to argue the atheist case and criticise the harmful effects of religion. But with typically Christian charity he conceded that Dawkins was 'a highly intelligent man' but still a 'nutter'.

Since it is the Christians who have associated religious belief, on the hand, and atheism, on the other, with being a 'nutter', let me quote from one of my own secular heroes, R.D. Laing, writing in the Sixties when some of us were fool enough to believe that a better world could be built:

"That little old lady, tears streaming down her face, on her knees, wringing her hands, lips moving, no words uttered, pleading..........there is no one there.
Now she is listening. There is no one there.
Is she an hallucinating psychotic in the locked ward of a mental hospital?
Is she saying her prayers in a cathedral?
She could be the same person."