(This post was originally posted by Michael Adams on the Coronation Street Blog in June 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)
I can't help but feel that the surge of complaints regarding the Bethany Platt grooming storyline are unreasonable. I've blogged in the past about the rising numbers of younger viewers watching Coronation Street and setting up their own fan accounts, primarily on Instagram. I've also seen pages set upon on Facebook and Twitter, and even on YouTube were 'edits' and reviews are made. It's this younger generation that are increasingly becoming less self-aware of the dangers of the internet, because they have been brought up into a generation where technology is everywhere and is part of everyday life.
The roots of Bethany's story were when she started vlogging about beauty products at Nathan's request. To him, this was free promotion of his 'tanning salon', which is an obvious front to hide the horrors happening in the flat above. To Bethany, she was becoming a popular social media star overnight and was enjoying this - much to Nathan's delight as this meant she put further trust in him.
To the younger generation of fans who are forever creating new pieces of content on Instagram, it is so easy for them to fall into the wrong hands, and this is Coronation Street's response to that, to make the viewers who idolise Lucy Fallon as Bethany Platt, realise the harsh reality of life online.
What angers me is that older fans, who are definitely of a pre-internet time and are mature enough to understand the dangers of the online world are criticising the storyline, saying that it is unbearable to watch and not relevant, almost as if producers are taking the story too far. These are the people watching the programme through rose tinted glasses! They think that Bethany is stupid for believing Nathan's lies, but that's because they have never been in the same situation as her and never will be either. The younger fans however are worryingly more likely to be exploited online, and Coronation Street is giving this horrible scenario the exposure it deserves, to raise awareness of what is only going to get worse if action against grooming is not taken.
It always upsets me when people complain to Ofcom because they simply "do not like" a storyline, especially when its a storyline that is highlighting a major issue from today's society. If we don't talk about this, who will? And it's almost always a matter of age. I see no problem whatsoever with Corrie running such a story, and I have no doubts that it will have been a major talking point in some households where children find themselves using the internet frequently. This storyline has the ability to change and save lives!
Rant over! You can find me over on Twitter @MichaelAdamsUk
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