My own fault, I suppose, for turning on the television. Not an action I undertake very regularly these days, because I am trying to be a nicer person. Some time ago, Charles Moore wrote in his Spectator diary about a hitherto ghastly, bitter old woman who had suddenly become much more pleasant to everybody. What had effected this change? ‘I have stopped reading the Daily Mail,’ she explained.
So it is with me and the idiot box. I become so enraged at being clubbed over the head by the politically correct dwarves of death who inhabit that poxed machine in the corner that I stamp around and make everybody miserable with my ranting. Not just the news programmes, either, although they’re the worst. Every programme these days has those dwarves hammering away with cudgels at your head, frantic to get their fatuous agenda fastened deep inside your skull. There is never an alternative view.
So all I watch (very occasionally) is a programme called How It’s Made, which explains, factually, how things like cotton buds and motorbikes and dog collars are manufactured. The dwarves haven’t caught up with this forgotten late-night half-hour yet. But they will, they will. Sooner or later I’ll turn on and the announcer will say: ‘This week on How It’s Made — the patriarchy, racism and slavery.’
Anyway, my wife wanted to watch a new series on ITV called Liar and, being nothing if not uxorious, I agreed to enjoy it with her. Big mistake. It’s a six-part series in which, at the outset, a woman accuses a man of rape after a night out. The man denies it. Hence the title — the drama resides in guessing who is telling the porky.
Except it doesn’t, does it? Because as many TV reviewers noted, it has to be the man lying. Because women don’t lie, not even in fiction these days. They are not allowed to lie. One reviewer said that it would be ‘irresponsible’ for the series to conclude that the woman had lied.
This is how efficient the dwarves of death have been with their cudgels. Bang, bang, bang they go on our heads, until we are unable to contemplate the possibility that a woman might tell a lie. It would be irresponsible, the reviewer (and several others) contended — because almost no rape cases come to court and women are never believed. Au contraire. More and more rape cases come to court — the number rises every year. And more than one in three men (42.1 per cent, fact fans) who are charged with rape are not found guilty. There have been numerous high-profile cases recently.
So in fact a decent drama could have been constructed out of this scenario if the dwarves hadn’t got to us. But the writers of the series actually agreed that it would be irresponsible to suggest that it was the woman who had lied, such was their determination to stay on-message.
So where’s the drama, where’s the mystery? Man rapes woman, like they always do, and then lies about it, like they always do. Everybody knew the denouement before the opening credits of episode one were over. And, indeed, by the end of the third episode the man was proven to be the liar, the rapist.
Where does it go from here? Up its own bottom, I suspect. An explanation of how the sexist criminal justice system always fails women and allows men to get away with everything, including probably murder. Or white men, at least. Not black men: they are victims too, kind of on a par with the white women. Because everything else in this vapid, stupid series was predictable. There are of course black and ethnic minority people in it, which there must be, by law, or ITV gets done for being racist. And all of them, the black and ethnic minority people, are Good — that’s the law, too. There are white men in it and all of them are Bad. And there are white women in it and they are all Good and transgressed by the white men.
So in this detective crime drama, you know the answers as soon as someone appears on screen. If they’re black or Asian they’re ok, if they’re female they’re ok, if they’re white and male they’re evil. So there is no drama at all, no mystery. It’s just a kind of Orwellian hate week, a chance for the tv people to stick it to the fount of all human misery, the white male. The principal African-Caribbean character, by the way, is an egregiously transgressed, gentle, stay-at-home dad.
And so you ask the question. If the writers can stretch their imagination to include a doting, stay-at-home black dad, why can’t they stretch their imaginations to envisage the possibility that a woman might possibly lie? The answer, of course, is that one stretch of the imagination is patrolled, with great vigilance, by the dwarves of death with their cudgels. The other, meanwhile, is gently encouraged by the dwarves of death with their cudgels.
If this were a one-off, it would not matter. Indeed, if it were a one-off it would work as a drama. It is the monoculture of television which is really to blame, I suppose: only one view of the world is permitted. And it is the stunting of the imagination by political diktat which so appals. The liberal middle classes who run the whole show are so absolutely certain in their opinions that anything which deviates from them is irresponsible, or unthinkable.
I hope the writers of Liar come home tomorrow night to find their homes ablaze, their treasured possessions reduced to ash and embers, borne on the winds across north and west London. I would happily roast chestnuts on the conflagration. You see? That’s what happens. Turn on the TV and I become a bad person. Although no worse than the dwarves think I am already.