Will the sun finally be shining for the Peaky Blinders?
We’re in the middle of the bank holiday and the weather is gorgeous! I managed to get myself to the beach in Bournemouth but apart from the sun, sand and (cold) sea I’ve got something else on my mind! The new series of Peaky Blinders starts tonight leaves me extremely excited to know how Tommy will lead his constituency and how the series will take a political turn. Usually associated with colder months I’m found curled up on the sofa with a blanket so I can hide at the grotesque happenings in Peaky town. But today I’ll be sweating alongside the Shelby family household as they make life changing decisions. But maybe there’ll be some sun in Brummie tonight.
Many a conversations with female friends have left me feeling like the outsider when sharing my enthusiasm for gang themed films. Having only appreciated a rom com for my guilty pleasure I’ve often turned to films depicting three dimensional male (often white) leads getting themselves out of very sticky situations. It could be argued these types of films offer viewers their need for artistic vigor when it comes to story, delicately captured intensity and cinematography. More so than any vampire falling in love with a mortal could.
Maybe I leaned towards films, which portray violence because I wanted to be like my older sibling who often went to Karate classes, over indulged in Manga and Gangster films.
With a more nuanced understanding of Film, TV and theatre since immersing myself in the creative industry, I’m always looking for the underlying message. As much as I’m wired to enjoy a well structured story, male violence and aggression should have a purpose. Mere titillation factor and shock value simply aren’t reason enough for driving the story forward.
‘Toxic masculinity’ has become part of our vocabulary in recent years when understanding male aggression, violence and PTSD. The Peaky Blinders set to exploit the economic turn of the country to lift themselves out of poverty. Many of the characters ‘have fought in the first world war and deal with their post-trenches PTSD in one of three ways: fighting, paying for sex or drinking. Many have argued that such writing (like Peaky Blinders) has led some academics to claim ‘it uses psychological trauma as a way to justify the glorification of some elements of British lad culture and even nationalism.’
Peaky Blinders does a great job at depicting the ultimate consequences for violence. Tommy has a psychological breakdowns, loses all his profits, some family members and the love of his life which makes it quite clear that choosing the bad path leads to devastating affects.
With domestic abuse, gang violence and crime at an all time high, is there a potential call to action for TV and Film producers (including the likes of Cillian Murphy – who plays Thomas Shelby) to take more responsibility of what’s happening in society? And if so what would that call to action be? Story lines that depict behaviour as a result of PTSD and socio-economics are surely already doing their bit. But why does that not feel like enough especially with such a popular show? If they can have the potential to change society, then why not?
We all know the likes of shows like Peaky Blinders are not completely real and even real life stories that have been renacted are considerably filtered for viewing purposes by camera angles, shots and the cast. Many actors often find themselves far removed from the characters they play. So what’s the point of a dramatic TV series other than to fulfill our need to be shocked and entertained? Should we be calling for the shows producers to take responsibility when it comes to creating awareness when they themselves don’t agree with the grand actions of their characters?
The opportunity to embody such characters’ is simply a dream to play, myself included. Is it that art imitates life or does life imitate art? Either way I hope the new series brings politically challenging urgency to reflect current contemporary issues. And if it does perhaps artists are changing society, more than they think.
Series 5 starts 25th August at 9pm.