Friday, March 06, 2009

Welcome to Al Murray's Early 1970s Comedy Stereotyping Show

I don't watch much scheduled tv nowadays - all of those dire warnings in the 1980s about deregulation resulting in dozens of channels of crap proved to be right all along. So I stick with the news and a few expensive American dramas. However, it's been difficult to avoid the fuss over this:

If you had any doubts that ITV wasn't irredeemably naff, then this clip should quash them. The clip has been savaged by The Times and The Guardian. Predictably, in the "wide world" of internet commentary, opinion is divided. Some gay people are actually the most ardent supporters of comedy like this. On a gay forum that I read, people have been falling over themselves to say that they don't think Al Murray is homophobic.

I am against gay comedy stereotypes because there's been enough of them thanks and not enough of the positive or even realistic representations which would act as a counter-balance. The "camp silly gay" has been the strongest representation of homosexuality over the last 50 or so years, and it's now just lazy and superfluous. Even if you don't view the clip as homophobic, it feels repetitive, tired and worn out - there's nothing new here. Watch Allo Allo (which had a gay Nazi), watch Are You Being Served, watch Larry Grayson's Generation Game, watch the Dick Emery Show, watch a Carry-on Film, watch the Benny Hill Show. Al love, we've seen it all before, over and over and over...

You can see though why comedians continue to wheel it out. To engage in a bit of stereotyping myself, us gays are generally such nice and gentle creatures. Apart from a few weird militant ones like Peter Tatchell (who'll never be happy), on the whole we hate to cause a fuss. Instead we want to prove to you how cool we are and how we can laugh at ourselves. And today, the worst thing that you can be accused of is being "politically correct". Who on earth would want to be a big sensitive sissy crybaby who can't get the joke and goes running off telling tales to OFCOM every five minutes? No, just like George Bush in Iraq, most of us gays have unfurled a big banner with the words "Mission Accomplished" when it comes to sorting out homophobia. And we don't pay much attention to stories like Michael Causer or what's happening in those other funny countries that don't let people do gay pride marches and might even hang you. See you at the Sydney Mardi Gras though!

I would love it though, if Al Murray would decide to make fun of some other stereotypes - fundamentalist Muslims would be a great start - there's so much unexplored comedy potential there, and I'm sure those Muslims would see the funny side of things too and not issue death threats or anything spoilsporting like that.


Lost Boy said...

I watched five clips of this show online before its TX and three of them were homophobic, this being the most hate-filled of them all. I couldn't actually believe what I was seeing. Hopefully the British public will vote with their remote controls and the series will not be recommissioned. About 13 years ago when I was at university, I went to a comedy night above a bar. A young Al Murray was one of the acts, doing his pub landlord schtick. He is doing THE SAME jokes now as he was then. He is painfully unfunny and his continued success saddens and mystifies me.

kleverkloggs said...

Men will continually hold effiminancy as some kind of benchmark of failed masculinity, not any real consideration of the lives of gay men, just mysogyny in disguise.

Equal rights are about the access to work, housing and family life.

The reality of this kind of scenario, is that they would be trying to appear as butch as possible to each other.

I predict the return of Benny Hill through the back door of irony. No pun intended matron.