May 29th, 2008
|04:46 pm - Filth
I did enjoy the BBC Drama last night Filth: the Mary Whitehouse story, with Whitehouse played by Julie Waters, whom I love anyway.
Mary Whitehouse was the icon of prudish repression. As such she stood for everything I disliked. And yet the backlash to her was often misogynistic and contemptible. This drama was a long way from endorsing her world view and yet it also sharply skewered the upper middle class male liberal establishment against which she set herself.
You know how much I hate Margaret Thatcher. And yet I can remember going on political marches where these braying SWP boys chanted 'Thatcher's got one, Tebbit is one' and thinking 'Fuck you. Is that the most effective argument you can think of against Thatcher - she's got a vagina?' And a lot of the criticism of Whitehouse went no further than that - presenting her as ugly/sexual - her critics coming from somewhere very close to her own prudishness. Both expressing fear of the body, the filthiness of the body, the hatred of sex.
Anyway, that's me being serious, whereas the drama was cheerful, vulgar and warm.
|May 29th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
What it didn't do was contextualise Hugh Carleton Greene's genuine hatred of censorship, which dated from his wartime experiences, IIRC. Nor did it reflect the sheer excitement of those years at the Beeb, when everyone more or less was watching and talking about the same programmes. I don't, btw, entirely buy the very unsympathetic portrayal of him, because Frank Muir, who was a kind and moral man, seems to have got on with him; I think that was a dramatic device to make one side Wrong but Wromantic and the other Right but Repulsive.
I think the play was over-concerned not to make Whitehouse a figure of fun, and in many ways she was just that - she had no sense of humour, a huge sense of self-importance and a mania for publicity. And, of course, a truly filthy mind. Let us never forget her objection to Tim Brooke-Taylor's underpants with their motif of a "suggestive carrot".... only if your mind's that way inclined, madam... as Kenneth Horne once said, innuendo is a truly victimless crime in that only the non-innocent get it
Edited at 2008-05-29 04:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, I see what you mean, fair comment on Hugh Green and his background. He perhaps was made to personify (unfairly) the whole post war cultural establishment with its absurdities and annoying correctness of views. And yet that heady excitement as you say. I think the drama did partly capture that quality of making cultural history daily. Also -Tomb of the Cybermen! (I think)
I also felt Whitehouse was a bit of a figure of fun in the drama. For instance all that 'Cocks! I do like Mr Cock's speeches to the House' and 'Oral sex! Who ever wants to do anything like that?' and so on. But in a warmer way than she was lambasted at the time.
Yes, she was undoubtedly wrong about just about everything. I think some of her male critics were misogynist (not that guy you link to). It's like hating Idi Amin because he was black. It's a bad reason, although he was hateful.
I don't approve of negative campaigning. Makes you as bad as the people you're campaigning against.