Little Britain's big voice

Political Correctness is the death of satire in many ways as it precludes tackling the undercurrents such that you cannot so easily needle the prejudices that are hidden under the dross of etiquette. But when the flood gates are opened --such as with the recent Cronulla riot -- the parameters of such supposed good manners move sharply rightward and with the consequential endorsement by our ordained ideological leaders and the rented chatter boxes of the media, a new threshold is established such that multiculturalism and Muslims become fair game.

So when you come to a program like Little Britain, which undermines the smug assurance behind PC, you need to cut some slack for this sort of stuff and indulge it because PC often dances around the real time mindset that is hidden under a veneer.

The challenge is one of deciding how to engage with prejudices that are always there but not always spoken.

Little Britain isn't overtly a political satire but its sharp and aggressive exploration of little sequences of daily life are remarkably potent. The way it plays with such stereotypes as the only gay in the village -- Daffyd -- and Vicky Pollard, the housing estate 'type' is so ingenious that it's like the Brits are being dissected through a succession of flayed achetypes.

So when Little Britain begins to pare that veneer off, in their case, I'm very supportive...and enjoy myself. I think it’s hilarious.

After I've sat through an episode - I feel that I have shared in the celebration of the grotesque. There should be more of it. The vomiting, incontinence and general corporal vulgarity decorates an extraordinary exercise in contemplating sex and gender, class and ye olde establishment from the very skewed POV of Matt Lucas and David Walliams --Little Britain's creators/ writers/ performers.

The intense grotesque is engendered in the dress up as much as in the plotting of each comic skit. This is a page of Jonathan Swift or Rabelais come to our TV screens with a flamboyant disregard for etiquette or at least the norm. The core grotesque thread which runs through so much literature so often cannot help but turn a sort of distorted mirror on the social world of the times. These episodes in the grotesque are celebrations of a world turned upside down in the same way that mardigras allows us to indulge in a collective disregard for everyday proprietary. So we turn on our ‘betters’ with the weapon of savage parody.

With Little Britain, we can ignore the onset of Lent before we find an excuse to enjoy ourselves mocking the conditions under which we must spend so much of our lives. For the moment,such travesties are available once each week on the ABC.

How it could begin life as a radio show amazes me as the visual component is so important to the present exercise. After contemplating the hugely corpulent and so often naked Bubbles Devere wrestle the similarly sized and bare Desiree over access rights to her ex hubby Roman -- words seem hardly adequate to the task.

The horrible realisation is that these characters, which seem so extreme, are rooted in the everyday, that is until something else is allowed to happen, at least on Little Britain.

Take one character---- Maggie, a stalwart of local womens' organisations and the Conservative Party, and moral guardian of everything that is proper. -- who is so organically racist that any contact with people of colour causes her to become so narseous that she projectile vomits over anyone near by, despite her seemingly formal and accented upper crust Englishness. When she vomits -- even though you know she will -- overt social intercourse is drenched in this public display of disdain and the hypocritical facade collapses to expose the raw prejudice beneath.

Of course you may just see the vomitous dripping over the faces of the unfortunate and be put off completely. As for me - who can boast a strong stomach -- I'm on the floor laughing.

[Little Britain: Wednesdays 9pm on ABC TV]

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