No one can ever accuse me of being a follower. I am no sheep. I move to a different beat; I find joy in some things that the majority find un-cool. I don’t have a Twitter account, and therefore, leave the tweeting to birds. The other day I had to ask my husband what the f*** hash-tagging is. He was amused; I hope we’re still at that stage in our relationship where he finds my ignorance sweet rather than disturbing. I have a Facebook account but it’s a shell, purely a means of keeping in touch with family around the globe. I don’t feel the need to share with family and friends my every waking moment, or document my activities and expect them to grade me with a “Like”, should I for some odd reason desire to put up a “status update”. Some of the s*** I’ve read, honestly, when you whittle it down it might as well say: “Hey, mofo’s, I’m in the south of France, check me out! I’ll be gone for two weeks. My house will be completely free so go on, help yourself! If you can’t see the numbers for my burglar alarms in the countless pictures I’ve posted, it’s 5164178. Have fun! I know I am!”
So, in short, I’m not hip. I don’t have my finger on the pulse. I’m not into gadgets. I reluctantly got a mobile phone while I was studying because my parents were like any other: worried about their child’s whereabouts and wanting to keep tabs. My first phone was an Ericsson. Just Ericsson, not Sony Ericsson; that’s how old I am. Now I have a Blackberry and that’s only to keep in touch with my husband and close family. While people are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the latest Apple product, or all a-buzz at the arrival of the Blackberry Q10, I am eagerly awaiting my husband’s arrival home from work (still on maternity leave), as he brings home loads of delightful food and travel magazines for me to salivate over. I’m old-school. I know you can download magazines now but you know what, I like the feel of paper between my fingers.
Anyway, I don’t like hype. It’s what it comes down to. If you package things in a particular way, people will get caught up in it and buy into it. Ker-ching. Take the French drama Les Revenants. I saw a trailer, thought it looked intriguing, watched the first couple episodes; thought it pretty good. By the end of the series, however, I was cursing the show and myself for spending so much time watching a pointless piece of crap. Two-dimensional characters who wore the same expression when scared or confused (the cop and the Dad who’s daughter’s come back from the dead) combined with a whole bunch of other grating factors that I just don’t have the energy to go into here, left me thoroughly annoyed. Style over substance! And when in doubt, chuck in some gratuitous sex scenes, just to distract from the fact that the writers have gone off on a tangent. Or to make you feel good for sitting on the sofa and watching someone else get their rocks off, instead of you. A bit sad if you ask me… But well done, Channel 4. Great trailers piqued my interest. It was a ratings winner. I seem to be the only one who felt disappointed by it. It reminded me of Lost. It posed such questions as, “Are they dead?” Ultimately, I was of the opinion, “I couldn’t care less.”
So about 10 years ago when people were busy watching The Wire, talking up The Wire, I was otherwise engaged. I had just graduated from university and was busy working hard in my first job, so I didn’t have much time for TV. I just remember all this chatter about The Wire and I remember being dismissive because I thought, “Oh here we go. A “gritty” TV drama comes along and people are getting all hyper. Remember a little TV show called NYPD Blue, people?” Ah, NYPD Blue. That was the s***. One of the episodes that still sticks in my head is when Sipowicz’s wife has been shot and he’s frantically trying to stop the bleeding and she tells him, as she’s gasping for breath, “Take care of the baby.” Never has a show so perfectly epitomised and demonstrated proper character development. Stellar writing and, Dennis Franz, I salute you, Sir.
So, onto Mr. Idris Elba. I just wasn’t bothered to check out The Wire. I thought people who talked about how wonderful it was were just joining the masses, quoting TV critics, for the sake of being cool. I honestly thought, here’s yet another show that’s been properly marketed and I bet you it’s just all chat, no substance. I thought they’re embellishing how brilliant an actor he is because there really aren’t that many strong black people on TV. I still remember growing up and not understanding what the big deal was with Trevor McDonald. He’s a man who read the news, had a kind of bemused, or is it uninterested, look on his face while he does so, occasionally interviews people, but other than that, what? Why did some people perceive him as some kind of icon? Because he was the first black man on mainstream TV? Does that automatically elevate him in some way? But maybe it just reiterates the point that I just never understood what everyone else saw, sometimes. Maybe I’ll appreciate Trevor McDonald posthumously.
It’s been more than ten years since The Wire hit our screens. I missed it. It’s been three years since Luther came along. I only just watched all three series back-to-back and, bar some shaky writing in the last series, it was overall very good. And this Idris Elba. Well, I am sold! He’s brilliant! I’ve only seen him in two films: The Losers, which I thoroughly enjoyed, in which he played a turncoat, and Thor, in which I thought it was a bit stereotypical to stick a big, strong, black guy on the door of Asgard, which, let’s be honest, is a place resembling a bit of a tripped out club like Equinox in Leicester Square. It made him look like some sort of bouncer. But Luther… Well, I did thoroughly enjoy it! He has kind of a mesmerising, commanding presence and I really enjoyed the chemistry between him and Alice, played by Ruth Wilson. Now, she is also rather wonderful, in my opinion; definitely my acting crush at the moment. I unashamedly whooped for joy when she re-appeared in the final series to help Luther out of a sticky situation. Anyway, the character of John Luther Elba portrays actually reminds me of some of the black boys I grew up with, who found difficulty in treading the line between being a good guy, law-abiding, caring for their families but not then be labelled as a goody two-shoes mummy’s boy. Ultimately, underneath the bullshit, they were just really the salt of the earth. Like Luther.
As I watched the series, I realised they did most of the filming around our neighbourhood! Earlier this year, I was taking my baby to the GP for a check up and walked onto what I was told was a closed set. This great, big, strapping chap said, “Sorry, love, we’re filming, you’re going to have to go round front of Bethnal Green Road.” It had been snowing, the ground was icy and snowy, f*** this t***, if he thinks for one second I’m going to haul my arse and my baby all the way around the bloody block to get to the GP, who was three minutes away from where I stood. I told this chap as much and just as he was about to probably plaster me across the road, a woman with a headset clamped around her neck came running over and said it was fine for me to walk through. Had I known at the time that they were filming Luther, I would have probably dissed them for closing up all the roads and making me move my car two streets away. D***s. Anyway, I digress…
Anyway, it’s nice to know marriage and motherhood hasn’t changed me; I am, as ever, late to the party. So I will be watching The Wire on boxset; just a decade overdue. And I’ll be checking out whatever else Mr. Elba turns his hand to. I googled him and discovered he is a bit of a jack of all trades; not only does he act and produce, he also sings and raps, going by the names DJ Big Driis and Big Driis the Londoner. Talented indeed. I’m looking forward to seeing how he fares as Nelson Mandela in the upcoming biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
So that’s me. “Hey, everybody, Idris Elba’s a really good actor!” And I can hear the terse retorts … “No f****** shit! Tell us something we don’t already know!”