Classes...

Over at the Babble website, I've just posted a piece about the creation of the lead character, Carrie. One thing I left out, though, was my desire to make her working class.

Now, don't worry, this isn't going to turn into a massive rant about the class system in the UK (which still fucking exists, no matter what people will tell you), it's more of an explanation about why I wanted to do it.

See, one of my main bug bears about media - and TV especially - is the total reliance on stereotypes; it's a lazy way of writing and creating new characters, and it's becoming more and more accepted that introducing a working class character into a drama or Sci-Fi show automatically makes them a charv (yes, charv, not chav!). Skins and E4's new series Misfits both fall immediately into that category; Doctor Who did it to a lesser extent when it came to Rose Tyler and her family, and it led me to criticising Russell T. Davies very harshly to anyone who would listen to me. Her character, and her entire family, were simplistic stereotypes, what Davies imagines most working class families to be like.

For the record, I grew up on a council estate; many of my friends did, too, but we're nothing like the 'working class' portrayed on TV. Yes, a lot of us are on the dole, but we've also been in and out of work for most of our lives; we've held down decent jobs, had great relationships, a decent education and, maybe more importantly, a decent upbringing.

[As an aside, it used to bug the shit out of me that there was so much political emphasis put on the breakdown of the family and it fucked me off no end when Tory politicians tried to peddle the line that most petty crimes were committed by kids from single parent families. All I can say to that now is: I grew up in a single parent family, I've got no criminal record and now I've got a fucking graphic novel deal. So fuck you, Mr Conservative.]

Yes, you can make the argument that we're from a different generation - the generation that spawned the current one, if you want - but that doesn't excuse the media's habit of painting the working classes with the same brush. I'm not going to vote for the BNP simply because of my class status, as some sections of the media would have you believe (I actually find myself leaning more toward Anarchy rather than any political party as I get older), nor have I got a litter of children scattered across the streets and claim benefits for them (I can't fucking stand kids, and don't want any of my own).

So, the decision to make the lead character a working class girl was done to try and re-dress the balance in some small way, to make a point that the working classes can be intelligent, articulate and compassionate, and not looking to stab you up if you look at them funny in the street. We don't all wear the uniform of tracksuits, hoodies and baseball caps, and most of us have more than just the world "fuck" in our lexicon.

Will this make a difference in the grand scheme of things? Of course it fucking won't. I'm not fooling myself for a second. This is a graphic novel, for crying out loud, not a major literary work, no matter what I'll end up telling myself when it's out.

The entire concept of stereotypes are far too entrenched in the media now and we won't be seeing them removed any time soon. I mean, after all, it's much easier to fall back on to a stereotypical character than to try and create one with depth, isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. We don't have 'the working class' in Northern Ireland, we have 'catholics'.

    I like how the middle classes run England - without them we wouldn't have had sixty seasons of Only Fools and Horses and the films of Richard Curtis.

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