On gratitude

A very quick post on the topic of gratitude – because I’ve seen quite a few people saying that we should all stop criticising Holby City and be grateful for the Berena storyline, even though it’s delivered an awful lot of pain over the past eight months or so.

Let’s think about the people who get told in all seriousness, via public forums, to shut up and be grateful:

Women. People of colour. People with disabilities. Migrants. People on lower incomes. Queers.

I’m sure you notice what I notice about that list. It’s full of people lacking in power, who struggle to get into the rooms where decisions are made, and whose voices are so often shushed by others.

To invoke gratitude when these people complain is to protect the status quo, to keep them in their inequality: be grateful for what you have, even if it’s not enough, even if it hurts you, even if there’s no good reason for the poverty of your share. Be quiet and be grateful for it – because what if even that gets taken away? How terrible would life be without the little that you have?

Personally, I’m glad of Berena. The first six months of the storyline was, with no hyperbole, incredible. The fandom experience has been (for far longer) truly wonderful. I’m grateful to the fans who have spent their spare time writing Berena fiction, making videos, and yes, sometimes even the shitposts. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made along the way.

But please do not tell me and others who complain about what’s happened since last autumn to be grateful to the BBC. The BBC is a public service broadcaster with written and regulated commitments to the representation and portrayal of the UK’s diversity, and I refuse to be any more grateful for a queer storyline than I would be for EastEnders, or DIY SOS.

We’ve already discovered that broadcasting regulations pay our critiques no heed; now to be permitted to be nothing but grateful disempowers us as consumers and impoverishes us as stakeholders. It’s our BBC too, whether any of us likes it or not.


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