Thursday, 30 September 2010

A word about the Millibands


There, that's a good word for them. Now I can address something almost as absurd as the Millibands (but perhaps not as absurd as the unions appointing Brother Ed to head their political party).

Apparently the BBC has commissioned a survey about how its programmes portray people of a homosexual disposition. My first reaction is "why"? Why should a broadcaster think it necessary to portray people of any sexual tastes in any particular way? The whole concept strikes me as bizarre. Allow me to let them into a secret. Homosexual people are just like heterosexual people except in their choice of bedroom partner. There are happy ones and sad ones, friendly ones and icy ones, sociable ones and loners, placid ones and violent ones, some can sing in tune while others can't, excellent sports players and hopelessly uncoordinated specimens, clever ones and thick ones, loud ones and quiet ones, law abiding ones and mass murderers. Find a human character trait and you will find homosexuals who have it. You see, sexuality is not character it is only one facet of character.

How does the BBC portray heterosexuals? That's easy to answer. It doesn't portray heterosexuals as such, it portrays people of widely different character who happen to be heterosexual. Their sexuality doesn't get a mention because no one cares (or even thinks about) it. No one would think of asking whether heterosexuals are portrayed positively or negatively in BBC dramas because they are not portrayed. People are portrayed. They are portrayed as kind or unkind, intelligent or stupid, fit or unfit; they are portrayed as each drama requires in order to tell the story.

There will always be a problem in dramas portraying minorities of any particular ilk because drama requires exaggeration. Happy couples must be that little bit more happy than they ever would be in real life otherwise they would appear ordinary rather than happy. Misery must be constant or it will risk losing impact with the audience. After all, real life is pretty drab and no one will be entertained by thirty or sixty minnutes of actors being drab. Drama has to catch the attention of the audience and that necessarily requires little foibles to be magnified and specific traits to be dominant features of the character.

It is said that the survey concluded that "lesbian, gay and bisexual people wanted to see more authentic depictions of their lives". What does that mean? More scenes of people doing the washing up, struggling to pair socks after doing the weekly laundry or waiting two minutes for someone to answer the door rather than four seconds? Strictly Come Dancing to be cancelled and replaced by Strictly Come Fisting?

Obviously one would have to know what questions were asked in order to know how that conclusion was formed but it seems to be inevitable that the expressed desire could never be met because of the need to exaggerate for dramatic effect. The conclusion, as expressed in the quote I have just given, suggests that the true conclusion is somewhat different. I would suggest that it would be more accurate to say "lesbian, gay and bisexual people don't like their sexuality being portrayed predominantly by camp and promiscuous stereotypes". That's fair enough and allows the BBC to save a lot of money by not employing hugely expensive artistes like Graham Norton and Dale Winton to mince all over the country's Saturday evenings. But it is nothing but a dream if it is really a desire to avoid exaggeration of a trait that is central to the character being portrayed.

Of course the biggest error the BBC makes is to assume that there is such a thing as a standard opinion held by homosexuals, still less that they can have a shared view of how persons of their sexuality should be portrayed on screen. I might be wrong because I don't have inside knowledge, but my guess is that the vast majority of them just want to be treated as people and will see exaggerated portrayals as necessary dramatic devices rather than insults.

The thing that tickled me most in the report of the survey was a quote attributed to the head of a pressure group called Stonewall which claims to have the right to speak on behalf of homosexuals. He is reported as saying this about BBC programmes: "it's right that everyone in modern Britain should be reflected in its output". How refreshing it is to hear the head of a special interest group insisting that those who condemn the activities of his group should be given airtime by the BBC. Religious fundamentalists who believe homosexual activity to be so wicked that it should be outlawed can now expect to be portrayed in a positive light by the BBC and, indeed, by Stonewall. No? Why not? It's what he said. And I would guess that the numbers holding those fundamentalist views aren't much different from the numbers of a homosexual inclination.

That's the problem with picking on a minority interest and treating it as something worthy of special treatment. Whether it is sexual proclivity, pigmentation, physical infirmity or any other of the selected minorities chosen for special treatment by the self-proclaimed "progressive" elite, it is impossible to make a principled stand for special treatment for one minority without extending the same privilege to others. Exclude others and you undermine the case for your own cause. There is an unassailable case for equal treatment but no case for special treatment

Incidentally, this exercise is a classic illustration of how tax-funded spending can be cut without necessarily affecting the delivery of "front-line services". If the BBC is fed less money it can stop wasting cash on commissioning idiotic surveys, it can abandon the backroom teams dedicated to ensuring "diversity" in its programme output and thereby save a packet. I wouldn't mind betting a packet (of pork scratchings) on it also having a department dedicated to reducing its "carbon footprint". That can go too. More on that another day.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Further apologies for absence

It appears it wasn't a stroke, just an inability to use the old pins properly due to lack of oomph in the old ticker (apparently exacerbated by the most recent bout of cellulitis, which was itself in part the result of lack of cardiac oomph). Quite why that should also cause me to be unable to concentrate for long enough to write my usual drivel will remain a mystery until the trump of doom. But there it is.

Long brisk walks to get the pump working a little harder seem to have had an effect on what I laughably call my brain and next month's appointment with a quack and a balloon on a tube might improve things further.

Recovery is now sufficient to allow for a further piece of twaddle, which will appear shortly.