Saturday, November 25, 2006

I miss Little Britain and here's why

Foul, facetious, yet incomparably funny – what else could it be apart from ‘Little Britain’? Yes, I know the third, and probably final series is sadly long gone, but unlike many other TV programmes, the laughs, the catchphrases and the jokes still remain intact and side-splitting.
Since the first TV series began, disapproval and shock rained down on the two creators – Matt Lucas and David Walliams – and no one could understand just why such a grotesque and blunt show held such appeal – why they kept watching it.
But one reason must be obvious to everyone – it was a fresh, original, unique show, unlike all the other predictable, polished and practised shows on TV.
And of course, the golden reason – we are growing up in a society where, according to a recent newspaper, using the words ‘elderly’ or ‘lady’ is considered politically incorrect. Little Britain makes a mockery out of this intense political correctness, which in my opinion, is completely ridiculous. There is a large distinction between being sexist and calling someone a ‘lady’, and Lucas and Walliams have taken this idea and run with it.
Through a cast of very different characters, they take the mickey out of racism, homophobia, extreme political correctness, or any major views that many Britons possess. On the surface, it may seem like Walliams and Lucas are the racists etc. but in fact one of the great things about the show is that underneath all the brazen, seemingly cruel jokes, there is the subtle message - that however bad it seems, it is only the Britons (yes, that’s us) that they are portraying in a droll light.
They expose the side of Britain that is so bizarre and sad that it is comical. How many of us can honestly say that we have never come across a (less extreme) Vicky Pollard lookalike screaming her famous catchphrases - ‘Don’t go giving me evils!’ or ‘Ohhh migod I so can’t believe you just said that!’
How many of us can say we don’t feel pity, yet a strange sort of recognition, for the selfish ‘cripples’ such as ‘wheelchair-bound’ Andy, who completely takes advantage of the caring, naïve Lou to escape from his wheelchair whenever his back is turned? And I’m sure we all recognise the character of Marjorie Dawes, the scary leader of weight-loss group ‘Fat Fighters’, who despite being ‘a couple of pounds overweight’, criticises those who are brave enough to admit they are heavy? And the insufferable Mr Mann, who does everything he can just to get on the nerves of the poor shopkeeper – doesn’t that ring a bell of the irritating, and downright rude attitude of many customers in shops all over Britain?
I’m not trying to rant (well, maybe I am.) All I’m saying is, before people start criticising what has been not only a surprisingly interesting, but also extremely funny show, perhaps they should think about the reasons why it was created – because all the faults are here, in Britain, and Lucas and Walliams are just bringing them to light.

Why I hate romantic comedies

Every morning as I stand, shivering in last year’s coat, waiting for my bus to crawl into its stop, I see tens of buses go past, of course none of them mine. As I have nothing better to do each morning, apart from checking my watch and grumbling, I have become quite familiar with different types of buses. Some are gigantic double deckers with grumpy looking drivers. Some are smaller, and so crowded that people practically end up sitting in each other’s laps. There are coaches too, and tons of different companies, each with their own special logo and colour. I’ve seen green ones, yellow ones, even pink ones, each crowded with overeager tourists or gaunt-looking children, on their way to another day of being pounded down and made miserable at school.
But the one thing that really gets me off to a bad start on a dreary morning is what is on the buses. And that’s the adverts. No, I’m not that grumpy – I don’t mind if Topshop wants to advertise the latest platform shoes, or Dove has a new moisturiser – in fact, I’ll probably end up buying them. It’s just those film adverts.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a bit of action, or a horror movie, or a thriller – but am I so strange, so unusual in just hating romantic comedies? I guarantee that if you ask any woman what type of film she likes, all the single ones will say romantic comedies, and all the taken ones will say they despise them. It’s just one of those things. I am quite sure that the huge rise in divorces is down to the downright ridiculous picture of ‘love’ that these mind-numbing films display. I mean, is it logical, or even feasible, that some dishevelled, yet supremely intelligent and charming individual is going to come along, sweep you off your feet and cook you breakfast in bed for ever after? Call me a cynic, but I doubt there is any such man in the world.
And even if this man does exist, chances are his name is Johnny Depp, and, lucky you, he’s taken, unless your name is Vanessa Paradis.
What woman can watch Titanic and see the handsome, heroic Leonardo DiCaprio sweep Kate Winslet off her feet in the middle of the ocean, and then turn around to the boyfriend/husband balancing bags of crisps on their jelly of a stomach, and honestly say they are not being compared to the suave on-screen Casanova? Oh, and what woman does not feel like a leathery old boot when their partners are drooling in front of the telly over the likes of Scarlett Johansson cavorting half naked? When I see these films, I feel like strangling my extra-large box of popcorn. They are just so predictable. I’ll tell you the layout for all these films. The first scene will film the main (beautiful) character walking through some building, getting a Starbuck’s, and getting in a typical New York cab. Then the camera will zoom into his/her face, revealing the perfect complexion and apparently naturally ruler-straight, igloo-white teeth of the actor/actress. Half an hour will then be wasted showing the character’s life, in six different outfits. The climax of the film will be a minor problem, such as the character’s great-aunt’s dressmaker missing her plane. This will then be resolved by the character kissing his/her childhood sweetheart, as the viewers collectively recite ‘Aww.’
Actually, I don’t mind the cheesy, corny ‘storylines’, or even the clichéd, naff ‘plots’. I don’t mind jealously watching a skinny actress recite lovesick lines in a Gucci shift dress. I don’t even mind the predictable, inevitable ending, where the actress will fling her arms around the huge shoulders of the actor, both will close their eyes in unison, and deliver the inescapably cringey kiss. The thing that makes me want to pummel the producer is the fact that year after year, film after film, the same idea about ‘love’ and romance is portrayed in these glossy, glamorous and nauseating films. Am I the only one who finds it unlikely that one will meet their true love by mistake by spilling coffee on him, only to find out that not only is he gracious (cleaning up the mess with a smile), but he is also gorgeous, intelligent, and the ex-husband of a supermodel? Plus after this ‘fateful’ meeting, he will also ask you on a date to a Michelin-starred restaurant, propose with a million-carat diamond ring, marry you on a desert island with just close family and friends despite being able to afford a five star hotel, provides you with a six bedroom house, gives you three kids, buys you flowers all the time, takes you on surprise dates, and when you are old and wrinkly, will still tell you that you are beautiful? I apologise for the ranting, but really – I mean, lovely thought, but just not likely, right? Why can’t the movie industry (let’s face it, they’re not short of cash or celebrities, are they?) make a movie a bit more realistic? The world has brilliant resources – beautiful settings, ingenious writers, actors and actresses in all shapes and sizes – can’t they make a movie about something other than fictitious ‘love’? I can’t wait for the day when I hear people raving about the latest film – be it about coffee beans or the life of a lonely rodent – I don’t care, as long as it’s not about ‘love’.