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Sturm und Drang

Broadchurch is a TV crime drama about a community in Dorset, UK. I watched series 1 and 7 of 8 episodes of series 2, before I decided not to watch any more.

The crime was committed in the first episode of the first series. 11 year old Danny went missing and was found murdered, and I thought the series would be about who killed him and why. Most of series 2 takes place in the courtroom, but most of the focus is on the trauma visited upon the families and neighbours of this small community. By the fifth episode I begin to wonder why the drama is drawn out so long.  There are long scenes on beaches, in homes, in caravans, including screams, shouts and accusations as just about everyone is blamed.

In fact as I look back over the series I would say this drama is more about whose fault it is. Our need to accuse others for making us miserable rather than giving compassion to our loved ones who have survived, seems to upstage all else. Pulled into an eternal power struggle with the world, viewers may well sit on the edge of their  lazy-boys clenching teeth as tears and blood spill out across the screen while the coastal tide rolls in and out.

But rather than knit the plot together, the show kept giving us more characters, violence, spite and despair, and I found I had forgotten the original plot, and the question of who killed Danny and why. I become suspicious of the intentions of the drama and suspicious of my own addiction to wanting to find out how it ends. What is the point of all this sturm und drang?

There is plenty of evidence in the world that we suffer from the harm done by those who we think we should trust but who get caught up in their own struggles. It's beginning to look like a predictable Punch and Judy show played over and over again.  In the news, on radio, on television, on social media, at dinner parties, and in the bedroom.

From here it looks like our brains are wired for destruction, rage, and disappointment. But the program is funded by corporations who have their own agenda. Is it beneficial for the market when TV dramas show humanity as being dysfunctional and powerless?

On a parallel issue I think of national security and how we deal with threats. Brahma Chellaney in the Globe and Mail article "How to shut down jihad factories" gives us a brief history of the rise of jihadist organizations that have attacked unsuspecting citizens in the Middle East, Europe, and America from the 1970's. "With Western support, tyrannical oil monarchies in Riyadh, Doha and elsewhere were able to ride out the Arab Spring, emerging virtually unscathed. Saudi Arabia has faced little international pressure, even on human rights."  But rather than look at the role our military industrial complex has played, we are urged to hate and turn away from the causes, we are urged to remain in a state of collective powerlessness, leaving the task to "experts". 

Pretty much like the people of Broadchurch who are groping for ease of pain but who cannot find it from one another or the professionals who are there to fix it.

Surely it's our ignorance that perpetuates injustice, war, terrorism and violence, whenever we vote for politicians who offer false but easy answers that allow us to repeat the mantra "It's all your fault". Were the characters of Broadchurch somehow guilty of looking for the scapegoat rather than piece together the events that led to Danny's untimely death?

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