The tale of the non-consenting event in Maple Bank, briefly touched on in Blog 39, still makes me feel uneasy. Thursday night’s episode of ‘Eastenders’ was astoundingly well crafted, digging deep into this topic.
The entire 30 minutes was set within the Queen Victoria pub. The camera danced around the room, moving quickly from character to character, capturing exactly the point of view that their age, history, gender and psychology would warrant. From Phil Mitchell’s chuckling as his wife Sharon extolled the virtues of a ‘real man’ shagging her up against a wall, to the pain and misery of Ruby, the girl who has brought rape charges against two local lads. And a gamut of positions and nuances in between. The men accused – who said she had given her consent – featured before being chucked out.
It gladdens me when scriptwriters slip free of their standard mould. The camera pirouetted and swerved from view to view, never tarrying, offering a communal cross-section of individual experiences that prompted any interested in-looker to consider their own stance and experiences. The arguments were often heated and spilled over into the sexual pressures in marriages and other relationships.
If there was consensus, it was that grey areas linger. And are best avoided. Maureen and I had a cracking chat this morning, swapping our own takes on this.
I began watching ‘Eastenders’ to be a more companionable husband. And have come to realise that it is the best of the soaps by a country mile. Not just the innovative ways that it addresses social issues. Acting, dialogue, humour, camera work. Now I’m waiting for the series to go ‘macro’ and tackle the biggest topics of all: debt and war.
As they build up to that, the scriptwriters might like to consider an X-Files-style episode where a UFO loses its way to Antarctica and lands in Albert Square for refreshments at the Vic. The extra-terrestrials showing no surprise as the ghost of Frank Butcher serves up their pints. “This place Sharon – it’s doin’ my ‘ead in!” says Phil Mitchell, as he volunteers to accompany them to the South Pole.