Tag Archives: soap operas

Life

Walking through the tube on my way home.
Alone
In this crowd.
Would
That I could
Be a cloud
Up above.
Yet we are all clouds
Blown hither and thither by crowds,
Trying to keep our identity in the throng
Whose song
Is “Work then home
Alone.
Perhaps a few drinks with the boys or girls
(the social whirl)
Or collapse in front of mindless television
(watching overpaid hosts
On reality TV interviewing ghosts
Who inspire derision, Not fear).
Sometimes we see it clear
But rather than confront the truth (which is difficult to do),
Instead flick through
Channels where you can shop till you drop
For the latest crop
Of gadgets (not needed before,
But once you saw
You just had to buy)
For one must be a “with it” guy.

Going to bed
Your head
Is clear for a while.
There can be no denial
That you may think
(unless your mind be muddled with drink)
Ere sleep “wraps up the ravelled sleeve of care”,
But beware
For you may dream
And all that does seem
Will be revealed for what it is, a soon forgotten soap opera in which you play
A barely noticed role then fade away.

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The Media Is The Message

Musak fills the vast void with soulless sound, like a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. The seductive blandishments of advertisers like sweet poison fill our heads. To purchase is to exist. Consume, only consume be part of the great consumer boom.

Endless soaps, beautiful people flickering like ghosts across the wide screen. With a flick of a switch the mirage vanishes leaving us bereft. Never mind there is so much choice, no need to switch off the TV, we can float forever in a world of entertainment and a myriad shopping channels. The nice lady, the one with the barbey doll looks and her head filled with straw tells us to keep tuned lest we miss something exciting.

No time to think. Thank god for 24 hour entertainment for it kills the pain, stifles the nagging doubts that asail even the stupidest ass on occasions. But, when the lights go out what do you do with the thoughts which crowd unbidden into your head?

There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so

Are certain pleasures in life intrinsically more valuable than others? Is the person who derives pleasure from watching Coronation Street (a British soap opera) but finds nothing which speaks to him in Shakespeare correct when he voices his opinion that soaps possess greater value for him than the Bard’s work due to Coronation Street arousing feelings of enjoyment not aroused by Shakespeare?

Yesterday evening, on the way home from the office I popped into my favourite pub for a pint or two. While there I fell into conversation with an acquaintance. Our discussion ranged far and wide. At one point during our conversation my acquaintance voiced the opinion that a child’s drawing may possess more value than works of art hanging in art galleries and on the walls of rich collectors. Let us leave aside whether the child in question is a budding artist with great talent and assume instead that his picture is a mere scrawl or a mediocre drawing. In such an instance the picture may (and often is) greatly treasured by the child’s parents as being a product of their son or daughter’s artistic efforts. Those unacquainted with the girl or boy in question may not give his creation a second glance but to the loving parents it possesses sentimental importance (they may keep the drawing for years taking it out of a drawer to look at from time to time).

The love of a parent for their children is a precious and beautiful thing, however we can not allow a parents biased view of their child’s talents to determine what constitutes great art. We would not, for example permit the parents of one child to judge the creations of children unrelated to them if the competition included pictures produced by the judge’s own children! The judge might be able to put aside his natural desire to favour his child but even so we would, quite rightly determine that it was inappropriate for him to sit in judgement in a competition featuring pictures produced by his offspring.

Let us broaden the debate and return to the person who obtains greater pleasure from watching soap operas than he derives from Shakespeare. We may disagree with the lover of soap operas and contend (as I do) that Shakespeare is more valuable in that his works portray humanity in all it’s rich diversity, however we can not argue against the fact that for the given individual Coronation Street possesses more value than the works of the bard. However while accepting that the lover of soap operas holds the subjective opinion that Coronation Street is more valuable than Shakespeare we can, by standing back and taking the broader perspective vigorously defend the concept of great art and literature.

Shakespeare’s plays have remained popular since they where first performed in Elizabethan times. The issues addressed by Shakespeare remain as relevant today as when the plays where first written. For example take Macbeth’s musings on ambition

“I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself,
And falls on th’other.”

Many a despot has been driven and continues to be propelled by “vaulting ambition”. Wonderful writing which can not be compared to the happenings in Coranation Street. Again Hamlet’s “To be or not to be, that is the question” soliloquy is arguably one of the greatest meditations on the subject of suicide ever written:

To be, or not “to be, that is the question:

Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer

The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,

Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep

No more; and by a sleep, to say we end

The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks

That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,

To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,

For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause. There’s the respect

That makes Calamity of so long life:

For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,

The Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,

The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay,

The insolence of Office, and the Spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his Quietus make

With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn

No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have,

Than fly to others that we know not of.

Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,

And thus the Native hue of Resolution

Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,

And enterprises of great pitch and moment,

With this regard their Currents turn awry,

And lose the name of Action.”

Doubtless in future centuries historians will study soap operas to understand popular culture and some will continue to find such soaps entertaining, however it will be Shakespeare and Dickens who retain their positions centre stage not soap operas or mindless “reality” shows in which the boyfriend of a girl who has slept with his (the boy’s father) shouts insults at his partner for the entertainment of the studio audience and the viewer. We no longer have the spectacle of hapless victims being thrown to the lions. It has been replaced by ill educated people who want their paltry 5 minutes of fame strutting and threating their hour upon the stage and, once over to be heard from no more. This is entertainment of a sort but it is not great art or literature, perish the thought.