This is going to seem like a strange choice especially when I discuss the reason I picked it but bear with me, this weeks TV viewing has been…Benefits Street. A lot of these types of programmes wind me up so I tend not watch them, I live on a council estate and I know they always pick the worst examples of people to show after all they want to make good television. It is a sad statement on our society that we judge others so quickly but it is equally true that the reason these people become seen as the face of benefits is because those abusing the system seem t frequently revel in boasting about it. The first series of Benefit Street I watched because of the media uproar after those featured on it claimed they had been made to look bad, now okay there probably was an element of that but it the words don’t come out of your mouth they can’t be edited at all. My TiVo box automatically started recording this series and as the weather has been horrid and I had a week off work I decided to catch up on some recorded tv so gave it a watch, and this series to me is far more balanced. This series features not only those who don’t want to work and those who break the law but also those that the benefits system was actually designed to help. I have really felt for a few of the ‘stars’ of this series especially Julie, she gave up a good career to care for a severely disabled son who required 24 hour care, if you have watched the series you would have seen a real sense of old fashioned community as they whipped a bucket round to collect enough to make a dream come true of him having a Christmas sleigh ride, even more poignant as you discover just a couple of weeks later he passes away age just fifteen. I am going to share an interview from This Morning rather than a clip… The thing I want to take from this to my writing is the complexity of community and the human condition. Even with fictional characters they need a back story, the reader might not need to know every minute of it but I believe the writer does, you need to know why your character reacts to certain things, what effects their actions, even the most hardened soul usually has at least one soft point. Communities are not created with clones they feature many different personalities which play against each other, some of course nicer and more sympathetic than others and I think in my next edit of my novel I want to look more at my secondary characters and their function within my fictional community, what strengths and skills do they bring and how do they interact with others.
I was going to go with one of the Harry Potter films we watched on TV this week but decided instead to go with this one… Last time I complained about the re-appropriating of the Sleeping Beauty story but I am not completely averse to people putting their own stamp on a well known tale. This Tim Burton version is probably my favourite interpretation of the story and the reason, well basically he tells the exact same story as the pretty Disney cartoon version but he gives his own spin on how the characters look and speak, he does not try to rewrite a well known tale he simply shows you a different way to see the same events. In writing we all know how the placement of something as simple as a comma can change the entire meaning of a sentence and that is what this film does with the most subtle inflections. Yes he does add in a little back story to some of the characters and is selective of which elements he pushes to the fore but this film is an excellent demonstration of layering and the way you can add something for all age groups into one film, something he is very skilled at. It is going to be very interesting to see what happens with Tim Burton now as he has separated from Helena Bonham Carter, star of many of his films and a brilliant actress, I hope they can find a way to continue to work together as they an amazing professional partnership even if their personal relationship has failed.
This weeks you-tube selection will explain the title. I may have mentioned my daughter hates watching films with me, especially those adapted from books, so when I can across this you-tube channel it was like having extra versions of myself in the room except they are far more humorous than my bitching.