"Casualty is a soap in essence because it is beset by the same internal contradiction that afflicts all soap operas. Casualty is confused as to whether it should be prescriptive or descriptive: whether it should describe how people in rainy Salford or sunny Melbourne actually live - or, conversely, set an example of how they should conduct themselves, and how the world should be. Like most soaps, Casualty seeks to go down both avenues simultaneously, and this is the reason why the soap has always been an inferior genre. "
Spiked writers are confident masters of the airy dismissive. Being both descriptive and prescriptive – that pretty much describes a whole genre and period, the nineteenth century English novel up to about George Gissing. "The good ended happily and the bad ended unhappily. That is what fiction means," said Oscar Wilde's Miss Prism. Indeed, and that is what a lot of Victorian fiction does – but an inferior genre? No way.
Spike's take on "Casualty" is not casual, however. Over in the seventies politicos' time warp that is the commentary boxes of Shiraz Socialist they are getting exercised over whether President Chavez of Venzuela was within his rights to not renew a licence for a TV station that was critical of his government. Note that the TV station in question was a great broadcaster of soaps. So imagine:-
In Britain ITV and BBC television and radio are critical of the government (British, not Venzuelan). Remember:-
First they came for BBC television and got rid of East Enders but I did not protest because I did not watch East Enders.
Then they came for ITV and got rid of Coronation Street but I did not protest because I did not watch Coronation Street.
Then – in the garden centres among the clematis, on the school run where the 4x4's huddled together, at the gates for flights to Tuscany it was whispered – they are coming for Radio 4 and THE ARCHERS. The leaves tossed in the suburbs. The rocket stirred in the salad.
There was once a leftist game called "increase the contradictions" (the old Revolutionary Communist Party, who now staff Spiked were big on this.). That is, piecemeal reform via trade unions and single issue protest movements like anti-apartheid groups only puts a plaster on wounds which in fact should be left unbound and fester, so that finally the body politic suffers so much that it has no recourse except for revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. So – East Enders, Coronation Street, The Archers, are the soapium of the people. Remove the soapium and the misery of late industrial capitalism becomes evident.
Conspiracy theory. Spiked disses soap operas. On Shiraz Socialist Leninists under assumed names add their support to the removal of broadcasting companies that run soap operas. First in Venzuela, next in Britain. Increase the contradictions! Remove the soapium of the people and replace it with the exfoliating gel of revolution.