Artwork

What Went Wrong With… It Was Alright In The 1970s & The Hypocrisy Of Contemporary Entertainment?

What Went Wrong With... Channel 4's It Was Alright In The 1970s - A collage of prejudice in entertainment in the 70's and the present day

‘It Was Alright In The 1970s’ is one of those cheap television shows which looks like it was created by a lazy git with no imagination. A lazy git who seems to love compiling old footage to form a shoddily put together documentary which is then inter-dispersed with annoying D-Listers’ thoughts and summations. The premise of this show is simple; to show the audience that back in the 1970’s television was horridly backward, and what was acceptable back in the day is frowned upon today. According to Channel 4, only in the seventies was racism aired on TV, and sexism and homophobia was only accepted back then, hell all kinds of prejudice was rife in the latter part of the twentieth century, but today we all live in a prejudice-free utopia without even a hint of offensiveness.

‘It Was Alright…’ is a particularly condescending TV show where the viewer is told that society has made so much progress over the last forty-odd years, but if you ignore the deceitful dicks that put this programme together, you can plainly see these sentiments are absolute garbage. For every offensive show or character they call out, you can name one from the noughties to the present day. In fact I found more instances of blackface, brownface, and yellowface in the last decade than in the seventies – so much so that I ran out of space on the right-hand-side of the frigging collage above.

So when this show says crap like “look at all those occasions when blackface was shown on seventies TV!” or “look at those racist stereotypes in the seventies!”, I assume they’re ignoring every single Sacha Baron Cohen character, they’re ignoring Ashton Kutcher and Rob Schneider’s racist portrayals of Asians, and they’re ignoring the minstrel-esque Robert Downey Jr. in ‘Tropic Thunder’. When they yell “look at all the caricatured gay presenters like Larry Grayson in the seventies!”, they seem to be ignoring people like Alan Carr. In fact I haven’t seen much in the way of non-camp portrayals of homosexuality on today’s TV at all. And when it comes to sexism, I can’t even be bothered to list all the times when the sole focus of a women is on their “sexiness” or “beauty”. And when a non-stereotypical female character finally makes it to mainstream television, the Actor in question seems to get down to their underwear for photo-shoots in order to promote the show… that’s real progress.

The whole spiel of ‘It Was Alright In The 1970s’ is completely hypocritical and utter bullshit. When the commentators on the show say shite like “well, that was because rich white males controlled TV in the seventies”, you should ask yourself, who’s the current people in charge of our mainstream TV Channels? For that matter, who’s in charge of Channel 4 Television Corporation? The answer… their Chairman is an old white man (and Baron) called Terrence Burns and their CEO is an old white man called David Abraham who gets a salary of £490,000 every year. Wow, a lot has changed.

What Went Wrong With... Matt Lucas and David Walliams in Little Britain wearing Blackface?

And what of the narrator Matt Lucas himself? Surely he has been responsible for caricaturing homosexuals as one-dimensional über-camp characters too, and oh yes… there were also the numerous times he and David Walliams donned blackface in the name of so-called comedy.

The next time these lying bastards tell you our society has made great strides when it comes to accepting different creeds and cultures, when they tell you that discrimination against race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation no longer exists, you need to acknowledge that it’s a fabrication, a distortion of the truth. These days anything prejudice is labelled “satire” or “social commentary”, but in truth it’s just the same old bigotry, re-branded and placed in some shiny new packaging. Instances like this programme is simply propaganda created to glaze over this devolution of contemporary art and entertainment. Take a look around, watch some TV or movies, watch some music videos and adverts… we’ve made absolutely no progress whatsoever.

Blackout.

Advertisements

21 replies »

  1. the tropic thunder thing was spoofing how utterly obsessed robert downey’s character was with “being the part”. He’s portrayed as being so obsessed with embodying the role he’s willing to literally (to ridiculous degrees) “become black”. Every member of the cast in that movie was a deeply messed up individual (with the exception of the new actor) plus it had tom cruise as the delightfully evil producer

    • I agree, but the stupidity of the character didn’t detract from the fact that it was probably just an excuse for a white guy to black-up and “act” black (which brings its own stereotyping). Some people defend the blackface of the 70’s too (in terms of context etc.), but my point was that nothing has changed.

  2. Not necissarily. Some hollywood actors go to ridiculous lengths to get “in character” as it were. If anything they were spoofing THAT. Every one of the characters is messed up. Jack Black is in films that he knows full well are painfully juvenile, ben stiller’s career is on the rocks after being in a film that is basically a spoof of those cheesy movies that are made purely for oscar bait, the rapper is a closet gay who’se ashamed of his sexuality or too embarrassed to admit it (though he comes out by the end) and robert downey is a spoof of those big actors who go to absurd lengths to get in character. If anything the whole movie was a subtle attack on hollywood

    • The only ridiculous lengths Actors go to in reality is losing/gaining weight and/or going “Method”. Nobody goes through surgery to get a role, so why black-up other than to black-up? Tropic Thunder was hardly a scathing satire since everybody involved was mainstream Hollywood, and the stars themselves are guilty of creating the kind of trash they are supposedly satirising. But regardless, this article was about the Channel 4 show which went on and on about the use of blackface in the 1970’s and how nobody does it today. My point is that it does still occur today, and Tropic Thunder was one of my many examples.

  3. the author of the review has totally (and I believe: deliberately) misrepresented the facts. When modern comics black-up, or camp-it-up, it is almost always to satirise the act of camping/blacking-up, whereas in the examples given of 70s shows the target of the jokes are the victims of racism/sexism. I can’t believe the author can’t tell the difference.

    • Firstly, if I have deliberately “misrepresented the facts”, how then can I not “tell the difference”? Shows what kind of logic we’re dealing with here.

      Take these into consideration:-
      Ashton Kutcher browns-up to portray an Indian for a snack commercial.
      Rob Schneider yellows-up to portray a Chinese character in “I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry”.
      Matt Lucas and David Walliams black-up for Little Britain.
      Sarah Silverman blacks-up for a lame gag: http://www.womanist-musings.com/2013/09/aww-poor-sarah-silverman-doesnt-like.html
      And the list goes on…

      None of these modern examples were “satirical” so what exactly has changed? Although most contemporary instances of blatant racism is cleverly masked by the “satire excuse” by people like you, rarely is prejudice in entertainment social commentary. I guess these days it’s a common misconception by blinkered fools that all racism and prejudice is somehow “ironic”, nobody for a second thinks that faux-satire is just a clever way of getting prejudice out there without any recourse. The presentation of racism may be different, but nothing has changed.

      When it comes to camping-up, “It Was Alright In The 1970’s” specifically called out actual homosexuals such as Larry Grayson, but failed to acknowledge that people like Alan Carr and Paul O’Grady probably only got their jobs because modern TV Execs still like the idea of caricatured Gay people. So no change there either.

      The show also went on to say that underage/paedophilic ideas were present on TV in the seventies, but they failed to acknowledge things like The News Of The World having a countdown clock waiting for Charlotte Church to turn 16. Most contemporary TV also uses “enticing” titles such as “Barely Legal Drivers” and “My Daughter The Teenage Nudist”. So what exactly has changed?

      Your defence of “satire” could have applied to older shows such as “Til Death Do Us Part”, but nobody on “It Was Alright In The 1970’s” defended anything from that period. I could therefore also say that they deliberately misrepresented the facts too.

    • To answer your first question, there is no contradiction in the statements “I believe: deliberately” and “I can’t believe [you] can’t tell the difference”. In fact, the two are virtually synonymous as one is predicated on the other. I believe you skewed the truth by claiming there is no difference AND I believe you can tell there really IS a difference. If you genuinely didn’t know the difference then I couldn’t claim your misrepresentation was deliberate, could I? This is a basic logical construct. If you had spent the whole piece claiming Up was Down, whilst I suspected all the time that you are aware that Up was Up, I could state that I believed you “deliberately” tried to mislead the reader, as I can’t believe you don’t know that Up is Up.
      As for the rest, I wrote my comment in a hurry and failed to get my own views across. It may surprise you to know that I actually abhor the current flock of shock comics (Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle et al) for their faux-reactionary attempts at holding up a mirror to a P.C. world while simultaneously, yet disingenuously defending the art by passing off their lazy racism and reactionary flippancy as post-modern irony whilst deriding those who deploy the same toe-curling rhetoric at face value to crowds of Mail reading xenophobes (Davidson, Chubby Brown etc.). At least those vile bullies and their equally vile knuckle-dragging audiences are up-front about their nasty little agendas. Carr and Boyle want to have their cake and eat it by fostering an image of being knowingly ironic in order to get away with wringing a few laughs out of material which they would otherwise be ashamed to admit to writing.
      As for Till Death us do Part, the writers and performers are always pointing out their ironic exposure of racist attitudes, but the true irony is that most of its audience were lapping up the ‘coon’ remarks and regarded Alf Garnet as some sort of voice of the people. That is something that has certainly not gone away, as any thinking person attending an Al Murray- Pub Landlord gig will be aware. It doesn’t matter how clearly you flag up your rhetoric as ironic. Some people will always take you at face value and call you a hero even when they know they are the real butt of the joke.
      On reflection I realise that we actually agree on this, but I do think the media’s treatment of homosexual and racial stereotypes is informed by social opinion rather than dictating it. The world has not become less racist/homophobic because of PC directives from those who comission comedy. Rather they have been forced to tone it down (or at least mask it behind a veneer of post modern irony) by received modern public opinion.
      Nevertheless, I for one can see that these days there is a definite distinction to be made between the in-your-face racism of Davidson’s Chalky White and The League of Gentlemen’s blacked-up character. The former plays on racist stereotypes and the latter is a comment on the discomfort caused by seeing a white man blacking up, and it is wrong to claim there is no difference.
      The Charlotte Church count down (already 12 years ago) which nobody had the gall, or even felt the need to pass off as an ironic comment on the sexuallisation of a minor, was rightly broadly criticised at the time. Had it been thirty years earlier it may well have passed without protest. There will always be scum, but at least PCness has forced them to try and justify their attitudes, which they cannot. As a result they either brazen it out at Roy Chubby Brown gigs or hypocritically pretend they are in on the joke as Boyle coins it in and mocks the weak with not so much a knowing wink as a shrugging ‘so what… I’m edgy?’.
      I hope that makes my position clearer.

    • I think the perceptions and opinions of the viewer have to be taken into consideration too. The same way that your first comment can be read as either “I (literally) can’t believe…” (which contradicts your opening sentence) or rhetorically “I can’t believe…” (which compliments it), comedy can be misinterpreted too. So in the same way that Alf Garnett is defended by Warren Mitchell and Johnny Speight as social commentary, it either went over the heads of most people watching it, or it was never intended to be social commentary and the “satire” defence was tacked on once people called it prejudice (although it has to be said that ‘Til Death Us Do Part had characters including his wife, daughter, and son in-law who criticised Alf’s opinions, and that made for a well-rounded show).

      The same can be said about comedy today; is it intended to be satire or is it just an excuse to be racist/homophobic/sexist etc.? Take any of Sacha Baron Cohen’s characters for example. Was Ali G, Borat, and Bruno genuinely created to show the reactions of the British/American people when encountering minorities or were those characters simply created to mock British Black, Kazakhstani, and gay people respectively? Once further characters by Cohen came into fruition (specifically General Aladeen/The Dictator) it became clearer that these creations were just stereotypes of minorities created to mock the race or creed of the character itself, especially when “The Dictator” wasn’t in a mockumentary format and was instead a scripted (and therefore intentional) film. Once a certain type of prejudice becomes a constant of a certain performer, surely you can stop making the “satire excuse” on their behalf and see them for what they really are; racist, sexist, or homophobic. For the record I don’t think this applies to Frankie Boyle who has a leftist undercurrent to his comedy, he is offensive but he’s not one-sided or anti any single demographic. Jimmy Carr on the other hand is just an unfunny twat.

      To take your other point, the fact that people questioned or criticised the Charlotte Church countdown, it didn’t stop a mainstream newspaper from creating it. I’m sure a sizeable amount of people complained about various shows/films/newspapers in the seventies, but with the advance of technology the media machine finds it harder to suppress criticism these days and it therefore is perceived that society has somehow evolved; it doesn’t mean that criticism never occurred in the past like the programme suggested. The “shock” titles of TV shows today, such as “Barely Legal Drivers” on BBC Three, shows that this kind of mindset is still rife today and probably always will be, but the environment which the media itself moulds (going from being pro-Jimmy Saville back then to anti-Jimmy Saville now) shapes their own output. It is rarely dictated by the audience.

      I think we by and large agree on this, but I still take issue with the programme itself. It was pretty much a blanket attack on the 1970’s without any impartial investigation. I therefore think it was quite apt for my article to do the same.

  4. What I found most telling in last night’s episode was Derek Griffiths’ and Kenny Lynch’s squirming apologist stance to their collusion in the blatantly offensive material they performed back then. That, more than any of the clips shown, was depressing. At least Bill Oddie was visibly uncomfortable at his portrayal of a racist character, even though there was a strong argument to be made that the Goodies were clearly, though somewhat clumsily parodying South African Apartheid.
    Probably the most salient comment of either episode was saved until the closing seconds of the show, namely: If we have to be tolerant of people of a different race/gender/sexuality, then we should extend that tolerance to those of a different era too. In the 70s my Grandma would refer to the West Indian and Asian immigrants in her home town of Wolverhampton as “darkies” with no trace of hatred in her heart. Ten years later, when my Uncle found himself to be the only white person left in the street, rather than joining the National Front, he attended night school to learn Urdu! (He was an Oxford language graduate, and had fallen for one of his Pakistani neighbours, so that helped).
    My point is that times change and context is everything. I don’t think it is fair to label everyone in the 70s who used the vernacular of the day as racist, just as I don’t believe that everyone who smiles and bids their immigrant neighbours good morning is a liberal progressive, but it is wrong for mainstream media to attempt to retrospectively vindicate offensive material just because they imagine they were giving people what they wanted at the time. Tribalism is and will always be intrinsic to the nature of communal and personal identity, and sadly there will always be those who define themselves accordingly, but to say nothing has changed is simply not true.

  5. Ridiculous accusation. The detail was given as an example of how received language does not necessarily foster hatred in those who are exposed to it, and demonstrates that progress is incremental from generation to generation. You seem, rather arrogantly, to think you have personally reached some imagined end point of social moral relativism, but guess what – a lot of what you think is ‘right’ or harmless today will be sneered at in 40 years time, and just like my grandparents, who, without the benefit of current attitudes were blind to the harm in a name when it is not said with hatred, you will be incapable of understanding what all the fuss is about, or at best embarrassed by it. I in no way suggest that their language was harmless, simply that they were not aware of the harm it caused. I doubt you would dismiss the genius thinkers of ancient Greece just because they kept young boys as sex slaves, but neither would you have seen any harm in their paedophilia had you been alive at the time. Get over yourself. It’s easy to point the finger at the failings of previous generations from the cosy seat of hindsight, as the programme makers lazily did, but like them, you are enjoying that luxury a little too smugly. As much as I cringe at the casual racism of our forebears, I am aware that one day some of my moral ‘absolutes’ will seem quaint and archaic at best, and perhaps even reprehensible. Who knows? I’m sure the makers of 70s TV had no idea they would one day be pilloried for producing material that at the time was accepted as normal by the society that shaped their attitudes. The best you and I can do is try not to be an arse and hope we’re getting it right, or at least less wrong than our parents. The fact that the programme was made at all is proof that attitudes have changed, albeit, as you point out, superficially.

    • I am not the kind of fickle person who accepts the status quo, I have and never will accept “harmless” prejudice as you call it; even if it isn’t targeted at me. I don’t have to be Gay to defend Gay people, I don’t have to be Muslim to defend Muslims. Surely this site clearly exhibits that I don’t think anything is “right or harmless” today, in fact I am the person sneering at it right now as it’s happening and without the “cosy seat of hindsight” as you put it.

      If I see someone like Keith Lemon mocking the accent of Irish and Italian people, I still find that uncomfortable even though it is essentially a white man mocking white people. I don’t detract myself from a demographic that I don’t fall into just so I can feel superior when subtle or not so subtle prejudice becomes the acceptable norm of contemporary society. The way that you think the only choice for white people in the seventies was to blindly say “darkies” (when I’m sure many white people felt that term was abhorrent even back then) doesn’t make that word neutral just because it was perceived to be acceptable by ignorant members of society.

      You act as if everybody from a certain period were automatically acting identically, as if they had no control of their actions, and that any offensive garbage that came out of their mouth was “fine”. You assume that everything reprehensible that has ever occurred was somehow tolerated across the board. So according to you; literally everybody accepted paedophilic homosexuality in ancient Greece, literally everybody accepted slavery in America from the 1600’s to 1800’s, and literally everybody accepted casual racism in the seventies. What are we, fucking robots? People and opinions are never simply black or white, maybe use your grey matter.

      When anybody criticises anything, including your flimsy defence of prejudice, you tell them to “get over yourself”? That’s a great attitude to take. Unlike the people who you seen to be sticking up for, I don’t find anything different about today’s society; it is still sexist, it is still racist, and it is still homophobic. I don’t have to be a black lesbian to know that. To only fight for something because you personally have a vested interest in is completely foolish.

      I stick by what I said about the “It Was Alright In The 1970’s”; absolutely nothing has changed. There may have been increments of improvement, but they have always been followed by a stagnation and eventual deterioration of society. And that is the exact attitude that brings change; change doesn’t come from people who retrospectively think the past was worse and tomorrow will be automatically better, and all you have to do is sit back and wait for it to happen.

      And surely someone like you who thinks that simply refraining from saying “darkies” is somehow better than our previous generations, is the one who is smug. If my mum and dad were Ku Klux Klan members and I just said “nigger” occasionally and without burning any crosses; I guess that would be “less wrong than my parents” to you? Your opinions to me are fucking archaic today.

    • You are obviously intent on being obtuse and desperate to misrepresent me. When I write:
      (quote) “I in no way suggest that their language was harmless, simply that they were not aware of the harm it caused.” (I was talking about my own grandparents, who you didn’t know, NOT everyone of their generation OBVIOUSLY! That is your invention)
      and you reply with:
      (quote) “I have and never will accept “harmless” prejudice as you call it.” (As I call it??? where? Liar!)
      It becomes clear you are simply out to prove your own righteousness by labelling others as racists. You remind me of a poster that features in a certain Ed Byrne joke. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s0f1ptC788

    • You really love to throw the word “misrepresent” about. According to you, first I “misrepresented the facts” and now I’m apparently “misrepresenting you”. But you’re the one who wrote…

      “In the 70s my Grandma would refer to the West Indian and Asian immigrants in her home town of Wolverhampton as “darkies” with no trace of hatred in her heart”

      You then followed this with

      “a lot of what you think is ‘right’ or harmless today will be sneered at in 40 years time… just like my grandparents”

      Therefore by inference your relatives, specifically your Grandma and her “darkies” comment was according to you; “right” or “harmless”.

      Since this whole site shows that I don’t find anything right or harmless about anything occurring today; your comment was surely referring to your own racist Grandmother. And by the way, who cares about your interpretation of her intentions? Unless you can somehow transpose your soul with hers, you cannot say that she harboured no “hatred in heart”, and by simply using that word I have the right to label her a racist; you brought that shit up. On a side note, the definition of racist is “a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another”, there is no mention of “hatred”. Therefore even someone who banters the word “darkies” about, is a racist.

      In addition, your weird choice of either “joining the National Front” or “attend night school to learn Urdu” makes it clear you enjoy polarising people’s choices. Therefore everybody in the seventies could either side with Enoch Powell or convert to Islam; that’s how ridiculous your bullshit sounds.

      The fact that you’re a fan of crappy middle-of-the-road comedians and their left-wing knocking, self-hating routines, shows what kind of person you are. Your comments have escalated from complaining about what I’ve written about a show, to the show itself, to your relatives, the past, the present, other shows, other comedians, to moaning about what others can read from between your protracted lines (and from reading them back, who knows what your actual point of view is and why you started your pointless conversation in the first place). You want to criticise others, but find offence in every piece of criticism against you. That smacks of righteousness to me. Now fuck off and stop cluttering up this comment section with your meandering bullshit, go and feel superior somewhere else.

  6. A few points & observations ..

    Regarding Race..

    My family is from the West Midlands & my elders remind me that Lenny Henry started out conforming to stereotypes. Lenny personally acknowledges this & has spent a lot of his time trying make amends for his past .. There was also the recent Citizen Kane sitcom which attracted a lot of complaints for it’s depiction of Asians.

    Regarding Sexism

    It’s no surprise to me that many in the media are being held to account for past acts of sexual harrasment & misconduct when it was common in mainstream pre – watershed programming. A good example is the Carry On & On the buses movie / series franchise. Which is regarded as classic British comedy. With it’s predatory middle age men groping , leering etc.

    Expanding on the medias depiction of class & staged entertainment..

    I used to date an older woman whose daughter worked in law as a consultant for many reality tv shows..Most of the shows were staged to create conflict or encourage infidelity. So i agree that their’s a serious lapse of class , morality & guidelines in the media..But the fact that a law firm was involved indicates that the producers ,controllers etc were well aware.

    EG

    There was a show called Temptation Island Uk where engaged or married couples were supposed to test the strength of their relationship & meet singles. The outcome was very predictable.

    When Woman Ruled the World ..Was a show trying to instigate a battle of the sexes. The outcome was again very predictable.

    There was another show called Celebrity Love Island . Which almost landed the consultancy & producers in big trouble ..( Sophie Anderton was a recovering alcoholic & contestant ) But her friend poured alcohol over her head in a scene..

    Continuing..

    You have the controversial talk show where two or more antagonists of mostly uneducated or working class backgrounds. are put in the same environment & anticipated to misbehave when some selective revelation is presented…
    The supposedly wise talk show host is expected to mediate & moralise on behaviour & conduct.

    Another more recent example would be the big brother tv series where contestants are encouraged to overindulge with alcohol. While the programmers wait for something interesting to transpire .. ( Contestants in the Brazilian & South African versions of Big Brother were accused of rape or sexual harrasment . )

    It’s no surprise that i & many no longer watch tv.

  7. This really is an awful website. To pre-empt your predictable response of “If you don’t like it why are you reading it and/or commenting”. I had to read it to find out it was awful and because it was so awful I felt compelled to inform you, hence the comment.

    The reason why it is awful is simple and best communicated in the form of a rhetorical question: What type of website would invite users to comment on articles and then aggressively put them down and dismiss their options if they disagree with you? I already know what type, the awful type.

    • Your condescending remark is pointless since it goads me into a response which is the exact opposite of “If you don’t like it why are you reading it”, hence spoiling your whole “pre-empting”. Pratty paradoxes aside, if you read the comments above, I’ve answered all of them with at least a paragraph without resorting to that kind of response. But if someone writes an inane comment (like yours) why wouldn’t I put them down?

      That by the way, is how a discussion works, you say something and I say something back. “Aggressively” putting you down is a matter of opinion, some people find this style hugely entertaining, others offensive; but it doesn’t stop it from being a fucking discussion, you tit.

      I’ll leave you with a rhetorical question, since you love them so much; what kind of twatting cunt would leave an irritating and pointless comment on a site he assumes will “dismiss their opinion”? I already know… the twattiest and cuntiest kind.

  8. Watching the show nearly left me with nausea. Total non-stop propaganda. Wasn’t Matt Lucas once in blackface? Hypocritical wanker.

What Went Wrong Or Right With This Article? (Spam & Shite Will Be Deleted)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s