21 – This Is England ’86 – And how does that make you feel?

The media blog has now passed its 21st blog which means if the blog was american it could now drink. In a sense the blog has come of age which is appropriate for the themes throughout This is England 86′ when it comes to Shaun. So to celebrate the blog turning 21 in this post I will be looking at what the creators of This is England 86′ have tried to make the audience feel.

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Shaun was the main character in the film and we were shown his journey into adolescence. However in this series Shaun takes more of a supporting role. The coming of age story carries on with Shaun though and we see him continue his romance with fellow character Smell. As this series is set in the 80’s many of the audience may remember the 80’s quite well and possibly grew up in that decade. I think this makes Shaun easy to relate to as he might be a similar age to what the audience might have been and this makes the audience possibly more empathetic to him. Even if the audience were not alive during when the character would have been in the series (like myself) the events that happen to Shaun can hit very close to home, especially at the beginning of the series where he gets pressured by bullies and is feeling lonely and isolated from all his friends. These are problems a lot of people face at some point so the audience can definitely relate to this.

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As said in this series Shaun has become more of a side character and instead former loyal skinhead Lol has assumed the main character role. In this series she struggles with some very big emotional problems when her father comes back to the city. From the start she alleges her father of coming into her room at night with implied possible sexual intentions. She then starts to become more distant from her partner Woody after he ruins her wedding and leaves her at the alter, this leads her to fall into the arms of Milky. This relationship then ends badly as Milky feels guilty about betraying his friend. Lol then confronts her father who has by this point raped her friend, and eventually kills him. Despite Lol doing questionably bad actions like cheating and attempting to murder her own family as the audience you are definitely on her side throughout series. This is done through portraying her father as completely evil and the audience really hate him as he is so disrespectful, aggressive and abusive towards all of the characters. Also her cheating is almost justified as Woody is generally shown as being a bit of and idiot and he doesn’t appear to make much of an effort with the wedding. This makes the audience feel really sympathetic towards Lol. Yet again it is credit to the writing and the acting that a character can be shown brutally murdering someone and the audience is almost cheering the character on.

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I’m not sure this is relevant but the final episode where Lol kills her father reminds me a lot of the story of little red riding hood. Some original versions of the little red riding hood folk tale involved the girl being eaten by the wolf at the end. The story was then thought to have hidden meanings, some people believe the wolf represented male sexual aggression and red riding hood being eaten was actually her being raped. If these metaphorical theories are to be believed the final episode fits very neatly into the tale. The father is the wolf who has tried to hide himself as something more innocent (throughout the series he continues to deny he is a rapist) and is then confronted by little red riding hood, who would be Lol, he then tries to ‘eat’ the girl which in this case is literal attempted rape. In the brothers Grimm’s version of the tale a woodcutter then arrives just in time to save the girl. In the case of This is England this would be Combo who comes in at the end and saves Lol in the sense that he does time in prison instead of her to protect her.

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Though a lot of the context and environment that the characters are defined by may not be relatable the audience still feel involved with the series and get behind the plot and characters. I think this is because the characters are really interesting and can go from humour to tension very easily through fantastic acting. The performances feel very genuine which help to not remind the audience that the series isn’t real and as said creates this strong empathy.

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