It's always interesting to see how a soap will tackle issues in contemporary society, and tonight's representation of an "ordinary" person who appears in the public eye and is vilified for doing so was accurate, pertinent and brilliantly executed.
It's Beth's moment to shine as the Weatherfield Gazette report on her heroics and reward of £5,000. "Local Hero Saves Maureen's Bingo Win" reads the headline (not to mention her husband's ashes!) The "merchandise production executive" is very proud of her achievement, and tells Michelle how she decided to waive her anonymity to let the world see her in the hope that she can inspire others. She gives the bemused barmaid a copy of the article for the wall of the Rovers.
Contemporary celebrity culture has many guises with the dissolving gap between "ordinary" and "extraordinary" becoming increasingly complex. Beth's description of how her "mate's cousin's boyfriend's Dad" was in the original line up of Duran Duran, and how "She thought she were a right proper celebrity and all that lot, whereas I'm actually one of your punters" is demonstrative of the category of celebrity purportedly famous by association as opposed to those who become famous on merit. As is our daily experience, neither are immune to criticism, as Beth is about to find out.
Things turn sour when Norris reveals that readers have posted mean comments about her on the Gazette website. We are all sadly only too familiar with this phenomenon, and analysing the potential reasons behind it would mean a whole other article. What is of relevance here is that we seldom get to see how their comments are received by the victim, and Beth's experience offers a welcome opportunity to reveal this.
Norris' comment, "If you stick your head above the parapet..." is representative of a dominant opinion among too many who feel if you put yourself out there, you somehow deserve to be torn apart. As Beth reads the nasty comments, you can't help but feel sorry for her. "I don't get it, I did summat good, summat nice" she observes, bewildered. Kirk talking of badger's bums in reference to one comment, and Chesney getting the evil eye from Sinead for pointing out another, are sources of humour, but they don't undermine the message which is, there is a human on the receiving end of thoughtless comments, and people should consider this before posting.
Beth is insecure about her appearance, and even her friends, as a result of the negative attention, as she worries they are hiding behind aliases to insult her. Humanity is restored via Craig who uses the facility of the internet alias for good, posting as Duncan, Doreen and Terry to express his pride in his Mam's heroics. It must be said that some characters have been on the receiving end of Beth's unnecessarily nasty remarks in the past, and what I really hope for this storyline is that its value and worth is borne out by showing a permanent change in Beth's character for the better as a result of this negative experience.
By Emma Hynes
All original work on the Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License