In the UK, ITV have been showing the Carry On films one after another for the last few weeks. I’m not sure the reason behind this decision, I don’t know if there’s an anniversary for instance, or if it’s just purely a money saving exercise, but show them they do.
As a child I grew up watching these films with my father, he loved them (I think, or maybe he just saw it as a way to entertain a child!). Whilst thinking about this I got to thinking of the other types of comedy my father and I used to watch while I was growing up, things like ‘Allo, ‘Allo, Dad’s Army, Open All Hours, On The Buses and Are You Being Served.
Following that I remembered some of the other programmes I watched when I was a bit older, programmes like Men Behaving Badly, Bottom, Gimme Gimme Gimme, Red Dwarf and of course The Word!.
What occurred to me is that these are some of the classic British TV series of their time (not all I grant you), most are comedies, comedies that are now generally frowned upon for being racist, sexist or some other word that ends in ‘ist’.
Now I’m not here to get into that argument. I don’t watch these films or TV shows believing them to be real or thinking that they truly, 100%, represented the times anymore than I hope the people of the future watch iCarly and think the same!
Most, if not all, of these shows are based around smut, innuendo, the war or the British taking the piss out of, well, the British, and most are considered very, very un-PC these days.
But have we really moved on? If we look back at these classic shows and consider them un-watchable (as some do), and crass and un-funny then surely the comedy of today has advanced beyond that. Right?
Well I would have to disagree. Looking at the highest grossing comedy films of the last five years throws up names such as: Step Brothers, Role Models, Various Harold & Kumar films, Bruno, Jackass, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Hangover movies, Bridesmaids, Horrible Bosses, Bad Teacher and more recently 21 Jump Street, The Dictator, Ted and I’m sure there’s more.
Now I’m not saying these films are un-funny (though some are), what I’m saying is that, to me, they seem in the same vein as the other examples I provided. They might not go as far but then again, I would argue some go even further!
Don’t worry, I’m not going all Mary Whitehouse on you, I’m not saying we should stop making these movies (although some should never have been made!). What I’m getting at is that if it’s still ok to make these types of films, if it’s still ok to go and pay a lot of money to watch them at your local cinemaplex, then can we really say “there’s no room for things like the Carry on films” these days?
I like the Carry on films, I like Men Behaving Badly, Open All Hours and many more. I see what you say when you tell me there’s no room for “bawdy” behaviour of a man looking at a woman’s breasts and saying “cor”, and then I switch on The Simpsons and watch the episode “The War of the Simpsons” in which Homer leers at Maud’s breasts whilst drunk and I wonder, have we really moved on?