Several old TV sitcoms and sketch shows have suddenly been removed – some permanently, some temporarily – from various streaming platforms due to complaints they’re ‘racist’. The list includes, unbelievably, “Gavin and Stacey” – which features a character named ‘Chinese Alan’.
Does anyone really believe James Corden and Ruth Jones would risk giving offence by writing racial slurs into their scripts?
If the people who rushed to complain had bothered to check, they’d learn that the character isn’t Chinese. He just loves Chinese food. But fact-checking doesn’t fit in with their “We can’t allow this!” agenda.
Also, “Fawlty Towers”, once considered suitable for family viewing, had to sit on the naughty step for a while, to think seriously about its ‘bad behaviour’. After managing not to cause offence for 45 years, “The Germans” episode was suddenly declared ‘unacceptable’ by a small number of people with enough influence to have it banned from certain streaming services – although, thankfully, some reversed their decision after a few days.
Anyone with even a smidgen of intelligence who’s seen it knows the joke throughout the episode isn’t on the German guests – it’s on Basil, who, after a stuffed moose head drops on his bonce, suffers concussion and becomes a manic, insult-spouting figure of fun.
John Cleese and Connie Booth’s script doesn’t attempt to squeeze cheap laughs out of the Germans, who come across as likeable people. In the same episode, Major “Papers arrived, Fawlty?” Gowen makes what’s now considered a racist comment. John Cleese points out “The joke was the Major’s, an old fossil left over from decades before.
“We weren’t supporting his views; we were making fun of them!” – which went way over the heads of those who’ve managed to consign “Little Britain”, “The Mighty Boosh” and other TV comedies to the dustbin of TV history because they didn’t find them funny.
There’s plenty of TV comedy I don’t find funny, but instead of shouting “Ban it!”, I just don’t watch it. Unfortunately, I get the feeling this is only the beginning. What’s next? Book burning?
Put on your wet weather gear, folks. We’re headed down a slippery slope…