The death of satire?

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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 3:39 pm    Post subject: The death of satire? Reply with quote

Satirists fighting a losing battle
Joe Joseph

Do you sometimes wonder why people say that satire is dead? Or why That Was The Week That Was, the focus of last night?s Comedy Connections (BBC One), lasted only a couple of seasons, way back in the 1960s? You do? Really? Have you actually read the news lately?

As hospitals limp from crisis to crisis, and staff numbers are cut, the country?s Health Secretary announces brightly that the NHS is having its best year ever. The Home Secretary hands a Get Out of Jail Free Card to hundreds of foreign prisoners, murderers and rapists among them, who were earmarked for deportation. Meanwhile, a Radio One DJ like Chris Moyles, who has the charisma of plankton, is earning a BBC salary so preposterously huge that he could afford to buy a peerage for himself and for every member of his family. Every year. Alternatively, he could keep Cherie Blair in fresh hairdos for a few months.

Oh yes: the Government appears to be flogging peerages, only instead of doing it sensibly by auctioning them at Sotheby?s, or on eBay, it is doing it sleazily by the back door. Also, we now know why the Deputy Prime Minister needed two Jags: one for the wife, one for the mistress.

Gordon Brown, itching to replace Tony Blair, may succeed his Downing Street neighbour just as Blair and his gaffe-prone ministers finally succeed in torching Brown?s inheritance and handing the next election to ? well, to almost anyone if things go on as they are. Possibly even to the Tories if the nation shares the belief of the Tories? new leader that every voter, on waking each morning, worries urgently about recycling his empty cereal boxes long before he gets around to fretting aboutthe economy, crime, education,public transport, or terrorism.

So what is it still possible to be satirical about? Tony Blair, John Prescott, Charles Clarke, Patricia Hewitt, a locked-and-loaded Dick Cheney ? whatever joke a satirist thinks up, these people can trump it by doing something that will make your jaw drop even lower still.

David Frost, front man of TW3, explained that, ?Before That Was The Week That Was there is an assumption that every single politician is only in politics entirely because of his sense of self- sacrifice, and he?s doing it all for us, nothing for himself. And that was the whole picture of politics.? It sounds so impossibly quaint, today, doesn?t it, that there could ever have been a time in such recent history when a member of the general public might think of politicians with such reverence? So, did TW3 change the way we think about politicians? Or did politicians look at how they were mocked by these upstart satirists and decide, ?Well if that?s what they take us for, let?s not disappoint them!? Because they certainly haven?t, ever since.

We have long been aware that TW3 was an extraordinary factory of talent: alongside Ned Sherrin and Frost were Bernard Levin, Keith Waterhouse, Peter Cook, Richard Ingrams, Willie Rushton, Jack Rosenthal, John Clese, Dennis Potter and Denis Norden. What came as a surprise was that a cultural phenomenon we have come to regard as TV satire?s equivalent of The Beatles lasted for just two seasons; with its audience almost halving by the second series. Comedy Connections didn?t explain why, and it would have been interesting to know.

The American mystery, Lost, also doesn?t explain; only in this instance many of us long ago ceased being interested in knowing, anyway. The chief mystery of this improbably successful show is how it manages to still draw viewers, having offered them so few rewards in its first series.

Now, in an astonishing act of bravery, Destination Lost (Channel 4) sums up the story so far for those viewers who missed the first series but who want to familiarise themselves with the plot and characters before the second series begins tonight. It?s brave because if you?re the sort of person who couldn?t stomach the relentless all-sizzle-and-no-steak teasing of the first series, then this recap reminds you why you might not be tuning in to the second series after all. It was like trying to tempt a fussy child by giving it another taste of broccoli, and succeeding only in reminding the child why it never liked broccoli in the first place.

If only Channel 4 had shown this 45-minute precis of Series One before the launch of the first series of Lost rather than on the eve of the second, many people could have realised in advance that nothing was going to happen and saved themselves two days of their lives.

Lost?s creators say they?ve been inspired by The Third Policeman. Anyone who has read Flann O?Brien?s exhilarating surreal comic novel will be wondering: is this claim supposed to be a stab at satire?
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edward catflap

Joined: 04 Sep 2006

PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

methinx the way society , and in particular politics are going , it is quite literally beyond the pale

it's a total pisstake of decent hardworking people the shit this and the last tory government pulled off

i'm all for a facist state with me at the helm and adolf hitler , peter cook and nookie bear as my wing commanders !

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