Sunday, 3 October 2010

This is England 86

I've been catching up on This is England 86 on 4OD. I was on holiday when the final episodes were televised. So, I missed out on any of the discussion about it. I wanted to share some thoughts, as phew, that's got to be one of the strongest pieces of television I've watched in a long long time.

I'm a big Shane Meadows fan, anyway. Dead Man's Shoes, This is England, A Room for Romeo Brass are all brilliant. He always captures something very tough about British society, the underbelly maybe, the stuff that other people just allude to, or explore in passing. No, Shane Meadows as a director really hits it to his audience, he seems unafraid of confronting the ugly truth. There's always humour, it's always hard to watch in some way, bloody heart-breaking.

So, Shane Meadows directing television is not one to be missed.

But heck, episode three was difficult to watch. More than difficult. I was shaking by the end, and felt physically quite sick and upset. Brutal, honest, horrific, very affecting. Brilliantly acted. I have no idea how actors play such scenes as the one between Mick and Trev. Johnny Harris had such a tough job playing the part, how any man takes the part of a rapist and plays it in such a convincing way, I've no idea.

We had a discussion at work about the last two episodes, both of which have horrible sexually violent scenes. For me, the scene with Trev in episode three was harder to watch. It was the power dynamic, the way he says, 'this could be the best sex you've ever had or the worst sex you ever had', the way he coerces her into not putting up a fight. And also how the scene seemed to last forever, it wasn't cut when it got difficult, but followed the action to the end. There was that awful moment when its over when Trev pulls up her knickers and fastens her jeans, and we all know that this isn't over for her. Rape is never over like that, even when the physical act has finished.

I'm in awe of Shane Meadows for directing this in the way he did, and Channel 4 for broadcasting it, the actors for putting themselves through this scene which must have been tough. Brave. Unflinching. Hard-hitting. Emotionally very raw.

It took me a while to get myself together, and I wandered around the house doing a few bits and pieces, wanting that awful feeling to go away. I've thought about it for days on and off.

Episode 4, with the scene with Lol confronting her dad was even more brutal, violent and in some ways more shocking. The girls at work found it more upsetting, but I think I was ready for it in some way. It was no surprise at all to me when her dad tried raping her as well. When she went round there, I understood why, I knew why she would want to scare him, confront him, show him that she knew what a nasty, violent shit he was, but there was part of me that wanted to shout at the TV, no no no, don't go near him, get out of the house! Sickening. But brilliant, the way they showed Lol reacting in such a different way, fighting him, angry, determined, desperate.

Some people might think it was too much, but I think it just showed reality. In my view that's the only way to confront reality, but shoving it in people's faces and saying watch this. This is what happens sometimes. This is what some men do. Yes, and not just psychos, or strangers, but men in people's own families...

It's why I still call myself a feminist, why I laugh or get annoyed when people say that we live in an equal society.

Anyway, rant rant rant. There were a hundred other reasons why I loved This is England 86, and thought it was a class piece of telly. But I've said enough!

Watch it! It's still on 4od...

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