At the risk of sounding like a local historian, what comes to mind when you think of the city of Liverpool? If, like me, you were introduced to cultural assets like the Walker Art Gallery & the neighbouring Museum at an early age, you'll be aware of the city's history, its landmarks & its waterfront.
You'll also have a mixed view of the city's media coverage since the 70s. The Liver Birds? Carla Lane's whimsical take on two young women in Allerton. The Wackers? The first real sign of Scouse stereotypes being projected to a national audience. Boys from the Blackstuff? Bleasdale's urgent missive about the de-industrialisation of a region. Bread? Execrable exercise in local parochialism. Brookside? An early & laudable attempt to present at least one working class family (the Grants) honestly, but which soon gave way to, yep, Scouse stereotypes & soap opera sensationalism (thank-you, "Professor" Redmond).
There is now a new entrant to that curate's egg of a cast, & it is one I've consciously avoided, Desperate Scousewives (the punning title itself is wince-inducing).
Reaction to the programme has been fairly damning, with Seven Streets delivering a dry, dismissive verdict (http://www.sevenstreets.com/talk-and-opinion/desperate-stereotypes-desperate-scousewives/).
So, given the distinctly unimpressed response of many local people to this tacky, vacuous & stereotype-perpetuating programme, are there any voices willing to defend it? Oh yes there are &, guess what, they emanate from Oldham Hall Street.
However, it appears that the Oldham Echo's endorsement of something which depicts the city in a shallow, materialistic & tiresome manner may have reached its nadir with one of those many Echo pieces which eschew journalism & embrace fawning promotion (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2011/12/07/desperate-scousewives-liverpool-echo-reporter-laura-cox-is-transformed-from-southern-belle-to-liver-bird-100252-29907910/ ).
Oldham Hall Street's hapless hack Laura Cox undergoes a series of cosmetic (in more ways than one) treatments. The cost of her, ahem, journalistic endeavours? £599. A reasonable price tag in these economically-straightened times, particularly on Merseyside, wouldn't you agree?
Alas, the online commenters on the piece don't. Indeed, their responses range from the spluttering to the withering. JimmyCase1977 (great moniker, btw) declares:
"Echo, you have seriously misjudged your readers on this Desperate Scousewives debacle. 99.9% of real scousers are against this stereotyping drivel, yet you continuously big this rubbish up! A once great paper has gone seriously down the pan."
Ouch! But wait, here's another commenter, Clerkenwell, with this observation:
"The people of Liverpool know that this garbage has been created in order to reinforce previous media-created bad impressions of Liverpool and show the rest of the country an imaginary, crass and uncouth Liverpool filled with grotesques to despise and laugh at...
"Is [the Echo]..so out of touch with the city that they are meant to report upon that they actually think we like this foul series despite the hundreds of comments attacking it after every one of the Echo's articles on it?"
Clerkenwell, that may well be a rhetorical question.
JanMolby (commenters do like to flag up their affiliations, don't they?) complains that his initial comment to the effect that the Oldham Echo should have its bizarre Freedom of the City award reconsidered at least was deleted (wonder why) & concludes:
"I'd suggest doing something important -- like a proper in-depth analysis of what's going on with Peel/UNESCO (rather than the sensationalist, dumb headlines usually offered), not this scousewives drivel."
Jan (can I call you Jan?), let me put it this way, there's more chance of Andy Carroll appearing in ads for mineral water.
So then, any response from Oldham Hall Street to this online barrage? Well, yes, there is. However, the Echo's digital editor pathetically bleats that the piece "was meant to be fun."
As opposed to, say, journalism.
It still claims to speak up for Merseyside, you know,despite its receding circulation (http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=47786) but the Oldham Echo's credentials are as suspect as a Stan Boardman routine. From Capital of Culture to Capital of Cringeworthy Caricatures. Only in your Oldham Echo.