After only five weeks Coronation Street brought its racism storyline to a close tonight.
Remember how it started? Fireman Paul told Lister from Red Dwarf to “play the white man” when there was a debate about the rules of darts. Since then there has been a reluctance on Paul’s behalf to apologise (“I am NOT a racist,” he has said between clenched teeth about 30 times) and a refusal from Lister to move on until Paul properly apologised.
Things got worse for Paul – he was reported for his momentary lapse of it not being 1965 and now risks being fired (I don’t know if firemen used the word fired when they are sacked, seems cruelly ironic somehow). At some point Paul expressed that he was properly sorry – he swore on his Harrington jacket: that is how much the apology meant to him. Lister still wasn’t too happy about it.
Tonight it was all solved by some evil soap racists. Corry is doing some sterling work with the brief appearance of caricatures right now. After Fagin’s gang shouted at Rita until she fell over last week, tonight’s racists were similarly sneering backstreet sneering types (though it was a bit mean on The City Inn – where the scenes were filmed – which is a nice town centre boozer*). This kind of racist definitely exists..I mean they’re on the news occasionally. And I know that drama of this nature has to use the occasional basic stereotype but I have seen better fleshed out racists in Nick Love films. (Take that, Love.)
Paul had an argument with Lister. Paul walked out. The pub racists eyed up Lister talking to the WHITE barmaid. While this was happening one of the racists asked for a lager and black but he said black with loads of emphasis and looked at Lister. Lister left the pub on his own (Steve and the headmaster left him on his own to ask the barmaid out – who does that? She was working in a pub on her own she couldn’t have left, so they could have just waited while he gave her his (taxi rank)’s card/phone number) and was eventually approached by the proto-BNP members with violent intentions.
But who was this coming back? Paul! Of course he’s coming back 20 minutes after leaving. Just in time to front up to the racists who were threatening Lister. Though Lister was initially ungrateful (“I didn’t ask you to stick up for me” etc) they eventually sorted it all out.
I wasn’t quite sure what the message was. Perhaps it was that if you have a rumbling problem with someone for using a non-malicious but still racist phrase to a black friend it can all be put in perspective by meeting some malicious racists? Or was it that mildly archaic but still used racist phrases are OK in their place (not around non-white people) as it’s only balls out racism that is racist?
I’m just glad it is all over with.
*I have never seen anyone be openly racist in there…sure I have assumed some patrons are probably racist. But when you assuming all people who look a certain way are racist you really are pushing the acceptable social norms of irony.