28 September 2006

Robin Hood says, "social inclusion, innit?"

According to Ed West in Tuesday's Telegraph, the BBC are doing a new drama series on Robin Hood.

Today's Robin, says series writer Dominic Minghella, is "a bit of a geezer". As head of the "gang", as the merry men now call themselves, Robin of Loxley has shed his aristocratic upbringing and adopted the 12th-century equivalent of a mockney accent. And, to make the story even more "relevant" today, Robin, a former Crusader who has come home disillusioned with military escapades in the Middle East, is used by the authorities as a bogeyman to keep the populace distracted – and perhaps as the pretext for a War on Merry Men.
It’s no surprise if Robin has been rebranded as reassuringly blokey for the new series. So has every other major historical character in recent BBC dramatisations (Charles II, Guy Fawkes, Elizabeth I, Mark Antony, Isaac Newton, etc. etc.) Helen Mirren does Elizabeth I like a cross between Dot from East Enders and Madonna.

In a mediocracy, individuals are considered to be blank slates – mere products of social environment. Historical figures, as previously conceived, do not fit this model and therefore have to be ‘rehabilitated’. There must be no suggestion there was once a world in which some people were, and were seen as, intrinsically exceptional.

Individuals such as Mr Hood are therefore portrayed in a proletarian style, in order to show them as compatible with mediocratic values and acceptable to a dumbed down mass audience - i.e. like characters in a working class soap.