The Debate Keeps Going and Going

There’s one bit of good news, ‘Hear the Silence’ didn’t do as well as expected – did rather badly, in fact. 1.2 million instead of the 2 million that movies in that time slot usually get. So that’s 800 thousand people who won’t be swayed by that bit of manipulation, at any rate. Other bits yes, but not that bit. That still leaves that 1.2 million, but there it is. Thank goodness for that sex therapy drama ‘Between the Sheets’ which is so popular. Sex outcompetes feisty mothers then – there’s a surprise.

I found quite a good harsh review of Channel 5’s drama by Mark Lawson from last week, too. It was on Front Row that I first became aware of this peculiar bit of agitprop, and so began commenting about it.

Timothy Prager’s script is full of anecdotal polemic, and from its first moments assumes and then pursues a connection between the needle and the speechless, troubled children, which does not yet seem remotely justified by the medical evidence. A series of distracted, sarcastic or conventional doctors representing conventional medicine are systematically shamed and humbled by Saint Mum and Saint Doctor. Scenes in which the Wakefields’ phone is bugged and they receive threatening phone calls are casually dramatised, without any explanation of whether it’s the drug companies or the NHS or the CIA that is being fingered for intimidation. If you walked into a doctor’s surgery looking as lopsided as this drama, you would be sent for emergency orthopaedic surgery at once.

Good line! I’ll have to remember that. But the news is not all cheery, of course. Some people, not at all surprisingly, were persuaded by the drama. The Guardian discussed the show with two London mothers. One was more resistant than the other.

“Elesha is two and although this programme has made me think more about the consequences, I’m still going to give her the booster injections when she’s old enough, because in the end this was a drama not science, and I don’t think there is enough real evidence to back up what was said.” She thought the programme could have a dangerous impact on parents already worried about the triple jab. “A lot of people don’t have the jabs now, and I think that number will grow following this programme, and that could mean a more serious outbreak of measles in the future. There needs to be more research into the possible affects of MMR, but maybe it was not a great idea to make a drama about such a controversial subject, because it’s difficult for the audience to know what was true and what wasn’t.”

Exactly so. But the other woman was more worried.

If it keeps the debate going I think it has to be seen as a good thing. So many people are worried about the possible links it is important that they are not just dismissed. I’ve been putting off taking Kara in because I’m getting increasingly worried about the health risks and this programme certainly did not make me want to rush to the doctors to get the jabs.

Yes, a lot of people say it’s a good thing to keep the debate going. But of course that’s highly dubious. If there were evidence of a link between the jab and autism, then it would be, but since there isn’t – then how can it be a good thing? How can it be a good thing to keep a nonsensical debate over a factual issue going? And even if it were a good thing, would that make it a good thing to have a tv drama keeping the debate alive? If we want to keep such debates alive, is it not preferable to have them kept alive by people who know something about the facts and the evidence? One would think so.

2 Responses to “The Debate Keeps Going and Going”