BY BEN PENSANT
Despite appearances to the contrary, television drama is the last place you’d look to find turbo-wokeness. Sure, the BBC tries, but even their best efforts are hamstrung by the same deference to the alt-right that sours their news coverage, with its refusal to report that the Leave campaign still aren’t being investigated by the police, and its habit of airbrushing photos of Jeremy Corbyn in cargo shorts to make it look like he’s got a tiny tiddler. (Nice try Maitlis, but I assure you, it’s like a fat toddler’s leg.)
Take recent newspaper series The Press, which on the surface hit all the right buttons: female lead, multicultural cast, and a clear message that the left-wing broadsheet depicted in the show represented everything good about the media while the right-wing tabloid was run by tossers. Indeed, from the bike-riding gay reporter in twat-specs to the Asian female editor and her deaf assistant who talks funny, the fictional liberal publication couldn’t have been more progressive if it came with a free tutorial on how to speak street-jive to brown folk.
Sadly, the Beeb couldn’t resist placating their Westminster paymasters by slowly revealing the paper to be a well-intentioned but chaotic melting pot of empty virtue, struggling to reconcile its decency with the fact that no-one was buying it and its stories were rubbish. As if cruelly firing a brave Jim Pilger-esque foreign correspondent for fabricating stories wasn’t shameful enough, they then had the nerve to suggest that free speech is a principle the liberal left should passionately uphold rather than throw under a big red bus along with due process, democracy and basic biology.
Meanwhile the loathsome editor of the Tory rag was gradually depicted as a flawed human being rather than an evil hate peddler. They even tried to convince us that a black bloke would ever work for a right-wing red-top. Please. Anyone with half a brain knows Peoples Of Colour aren’t even allowed to clean the toilets at publications like The Scum, never mind sit in on editorial meetings with boss whitey or share the same coffee cups as his milky-skinned lackies.
Needless to say, come the climax the writers blew it big time, neglecting to send a warning to the gutter press that their golden age of racist fearmongering will soon come to a Jezza-inflicted end, instead creating a dated but enjoyable potboiler in which story and character were ultimately placed above scoring bland ideological points against the evil empire.
Which sums up everything wrong with modern TV. The BBC can curry favour with decent liberals by forcing ‘straight allies’ to wear badges all they like but any idiot can see this tokenistic sloganeering doesn’t go far enough. You can raise concerns about gay men being ‘the most visible members of the LGBTQandNotU community at the company’ all you like but it’s meaningless until you’re willing to go the extra mile and address heteronormativityness by sacking all the benders. Apart from the ones who wear frocks, obvs.
Which brings us to ITV, who amazingly appear to have a better grasp on the really important issues than their supposedly progressive rival. Yes, that’s right, the channel famous for making ’80s pop stars in red cagoules drink hippo’s fanny batter is now officially more clued up on intersectionality than a corporation whose recruitment policy actively discriminates against whites. Strange times.
Yes, I’m talking about Butterflies, the superb transgender-themed mini-series which launched last month and proved that it’s not just Auntie who has the monopoly on bare-faced propaganda. I won’t spoil the surprise for anyone yet to view this heartwarming masterpiece, though frankly if you still haven’t seen it you should turn yourself into your local constabulary immediately and insist they charge you with every hate crime under the sun before you become a TERF and kill someone.
What I will say is that, unlike the BBC’s piss-weak attempts at ideologically-driven drama, it gets everything right. What Butterflies did was eschew any attempt to offer a balanced view of children with gender identity issues, helped in no small part by the involvement of compassionate support network Little Mermaids. It did this by wisely ignoring the fact that the vast majority of boys who show signs of dysphoria either grow out of it or end up being normal lads who aren’t keen on cars and football. Instead, it issued a clear, concise and hysterical warning that if you have a young son who likes wearing dresses and don’t feed her hormone blockers or arrange to have her cock cut off there’s a very good chance she’ll slash her wrists.
Predictably, a whole host of right-wing hatemongers and NHS lickspittles lined up to accuse the show of ‘inflating’ the threat of 11-year-old transgirls committing suicide. Yawn. Watch the show and you’ll see the only thing that’s been inflated is Beth Freil’s lips. Indeed, the casting of Freil provides neat symmetry, as she knows all about struggling with sexuality from her days as a teenage lesbian on Emmerdale. Thankfully, we live in more enlightened times now: she may have overcome her own adolescent trauma and grew up to be a well-balanced same-sexer but imagine how much easier things might have been if she’d had fat Sinbad whispering in her ear and telling her to mutilate her own vagina?
In the meantime let’s hope Butterflies maintains its awesomeness and continues to explore the realities of the trans activist experience. I look forward to the scene in which young Maxine blossoms into a fully-fledged transwoman by going TERF-hunting on Hyde Park, sending death threats to Pam Greer and having a wank in Dorothy Perkins.
And let’s also hope the impact on the public is as positive as it has been on me. Because watching episode one has inspired me to get with the programme and re-evaluate my own gender identity. So thanks to the show I’ve decided to spend the next week identifying as a woman. And as a caring, selfless liberal I intend to share the experience with as many people as possible. So in the spirit of collectivism, if any bi-curious girls aged between 18-19 are reading, I’m more than happy to help you out with your first lesbian experience.