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The year the students fought back - with a radio script

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Demonisation of students can be said to have occurred for generations across the media. We're a rather big bunch when slamming ourselves up against the windows of buildings of parliament orConnected_logo when being addressed by adults whose memories of university must surely consist of an array of photographs in which alcohol lines the tables in the background. The scripts which form the basis of television drama such as 'Skins' on channel E4 recieve high numbers of young viewers, whom the shows are also about, and this can be put down to their entertainment factor. I personally am not a fan of watching characters who are supposedly ourselves dancing, singing and spewing multicoloured liquid on screen, but Warwick University student and writer Ollie Charles is. However he is also ideologically against the scripts which form these shows: their portrayal of young men as violent and alcoholic; their sexualisation of young girls; and what older generations may infer from these shows that all students act in this drunken, sex-obsessed way. In response, and showing how you can be both a fan of these shows and against them, all at once, Ollie has penned a script, titled 'CONNECTED', a radio serial which he promises will combine entertainment and a political message and which bridges the divide between young adults and what I shall call 'ordinary' adults. 

Skins logo

Despite being written, aired at, and the majority of the script based at Warwick University campus, this radio serial has a message for all students: that we are like that (drunken and sex-obsessed), and yet - at the same time - we are not; essentially, that we can be - some of us - but so can you, you 'ordinary' adults. 

'CONNECTED' will be 'a little more realistic', informs Ollie, than the dramas out there at the moment which he describes as 'containing hyperbolic images of drunken idiots', a statement which may well be digressed by other students given that Warwick stands at a mere 51 in the 2011 sex survey (studentbeans.com) while the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales sit at the top of the list. 

However turning to more realistic matters, Ollie reassures, does not mean losing that entertainment factor prevalent and popular in television dramas such as 'Skins' and the 'OC'. 'I didn't want to produce a reality show,' says Ollie. The show 'wants to have fun while confronting and exposing', he says in reference to the issues above. While potentially bridging that divide between adults and students there is also a focus on 'problems that mean a lot to them but perhaps not to anyone outside their age group.'

What makes Ollie's script unusual is that it is created for students, by students. 'If you are watching one set in America, you have 20-something year-olds playing teenagers, and the majority of the writing is done by adults,' he says. 

So what are we to expect from this rebellious act? Certainly not a protest, and certainly not a one-off release of anger at representations of students. This literary act of rebellion will instead make use of characters ranging 'from freshers to lecturers and pretty much anyone in-between' and story-lines which, to offer a taste: 'include...a girl flirting with her best friend's ex, the ethics of being a lecturer, substance abuse, racial discrimination in our university system and eating disorders' - these are mature subjects which have been promised by the writer.

CONNECTED's first episode, titled 'All The Fun at The Fair', will air on Warwick University's radio station which Ollie currently volunteers at, RaW 1251am, next academic year which begins in October of 2011 for the University. There should be twelve serial episodes, although this is subject to change. However Warwick students can look forward to an earlier pilot episode this very week, on the Thursday 23rd June between four and five o'clock, with warnings abound that there will be rather a long wait until the series continues!

To follow this potentially efficacious storyline tune into the Warwick RaW radio station (http://www.radio.warwick.ac.uk/), or for any eager listeners you can follow the progress of the serial here (http://www.connectedrama.wordpress.com) and of course on Facebook, where Ollie promises that eager listeners will be able to follow their favourite characters through profiles. Additionally, there is a YouTube channel which will contain video logs, again by the characters. RaW even intends to host a party, apparently of the likes of 'Skins' (perhaps without the 'drunken idiot' part) where the somewhat interesting possibility that characters based on us will, in effect, become us, as guests we may meet and greet. 

To read more about the issues raised in this feature you can take a look at the charity Youth Net and the British Youth Council.

In summary, for any interested adult in particular, it seems that 2011 may well be the year that the students, reacting to negative representations of young people and student life in the media, fought back not with a march to the capital or a quick burst of anger, but with a radio script. 

 

'Connected' logo credit to INC




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