Friday, January 14, 2005

Little Britain

what is it about Little Britain? apart from the fact that it's being hyped to the hypest, and that Matt Lucas is evidently starting to believe it. vomiting and farting jokes aside (my twelve-year-olds find that funny - same as South Park - so I guess that means it'll work in the disunited states, then) what's the funny? the screeching falsetto "but we're ladies!" from the two transvestites dressed in Edwardian has become playground anthemic, so that's working, in a "he's fallen in the water!" kind of way; the fawning floppy-haired PM's assistant was funny, the first couple of times; ditto the fake paraplegic, the gutter-mouthed teenage single mum from hell, the naked monstrosity of the permanent health spa resident, and the only gay in the village (pronounced villarge) - but is any of these characters sufficient to crack us up on a regular basis? apparently yes - that's what the BBC thinks, so that's what we get.
Lucas was wonderful as the drumming baby in the romper suit in Shooting Stars, but in Little Britain there's something distinctly rank beneath all those funny ladies costumes.
in truth, I've never understood drag. in one sense, I concede it's a pop culture way of exorcising those mother demons that every man is supposed to have - we love 'em, we hate 'em, blah blah, so in its more grotesque, pantomime dame form - well - *waggles hand* - music hall, comic history an all - different times, different mores. but the Danny la Rues, the Lily Savages - what's that all about? camp men dolled up as the 'glamorous' version of their mothers' generation (NB - never as women of their own generation). I've always thought they were just exposing a seriously sick problem they all share, which I'd rather they didn't share with me, although the really odd thing is not only that we straights are supposed to find a comic frisson in it, too, but that so many, evidently, do.
in Little Britain, though, Lucas seems to be on a roll with his depictions of seriously, irredeemably disgusting women. is it just me, or is there something fundamentally misogynistic being slipped to us here underneath the radar of the gay fascia? an awful lot of comedy now seems to be about making women look like tragic fools who smell bad but that's ok because we're gay and we don't fancy them and we're not a threat really are we and anyway they're great sports for agreeing to take part, and it's only a bit of fun, innit?
one of the longest nights of my life - dragged along with the promise that I was 'in for a treat' by my sister and brother-in-law - was spent a year or two ago in a Blackpool pub frequented by straights where the entertainment was all in drag, and the humour was as visceral as it was witless. the biggest thrill was evidently for a random girlfriend or fiançée to be selected for ritual humiliation of the 'if her cunt's as big as her mouth no wonder he's fingering his own arse' kind (cue squeals of mock outrage and roars of Whitbread-fuelled hilarity). and this wasn't some back alley sawdust-and-spit place, this was - by Blackpool standards - a high-class joint, the clientele being predominantly of the 'young professional' class - aspiring lawyers and estate agents and funeral directors out slumming.
so that's feminism trashed, then.
and for our next trick - the rehabilitation of the golliwog as a retro-ironic comic icon maybe?

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