Monday, March 21, 2005

When Jackie Mason appeared on Have I Got News For You he publicly criticised the other people appearing on the show for their interest in then minister Peter Mandelson, he thought they were being homophobic and making fun because Mandelson was gay, what he didn't realise was that the show was criticising the BBC self-censoring itself after someone had 'outed' Mandelson during a live TV show. It was an issue of pandering to the new Government.

So I'm watching Bremner, Bird and Fortune and wondering, are they being homophobic about Mandelson? Bremner's impression of him has turned through the years into Larry Grayson, ok, but he's not in the news at the moment and Bremner still brings him up and the sketches he appears in often involve sex, such as last night when footage of him was intercut into a fake advert for men troubled about sustaining an election (Do you see what they did there?). Doctor Mandelson runs a clinic for men worried about 'electile disfunction'. And a series or two ago I seem to recall a sketch about Mandelson going to Europe that suggested he would like his job because the European Parliament and it's environs was just like Old Compton Street but that he'd have to put his South American boyfriend in quarantine (like for animals) first.

So I wonder: Is it because Mandelson is unpopular? After all, I don't remember Bremner ever doing sketches about Chris Smith MP when he was a Minister, neither does he do Julian Clary or Graham Norton. I don't really believe anyone involved with BB&F to be openly homophobic, I just wonder whether, when they want to satirise an unpopular person who is gay they fall into the trap of homophobia.

I should also point out that I have never been able to watch an entire episode of either Curb Your Enthusiasm or The Anna-Nicole Show. There's something deeply uncomfortable about both of them, it's also why I can only watch a couple of episodes of something like Will & Grace or Frasier before I have to avoid watching them again for about a year. At some level it's being presented with a sympathetic character and then watching them make a humiliating arse of themselves, whether they're aware of it or not. So I made it about halfway through Fat Actress before I thought, 'escape! now!'.

Fat Actress is the new Kirstie Alley show, made in the same way as CYE, only instead of Larry we have Kirstie Alley and her struggles with trying to have a career in Hollywood when she's broken two of the most important rules in Hollywood, she's over forty and she's over-size. Because this is a comedy her weight is used as a stick to beat her, the show opens with her checking her weight, she starts shrieking and is in hysterics when her agent calls. She drives off to the local fast food joint to eat away her pain, only to come home to find John Travolta and a SWAT team surrounding the house because they thought she was being held hostage (It's John Travolta as John Travolta by the way). One of the SWAT guys says to John "That's not the chick from Cheers is it? Huh, belly up to the bar, porker." Does John berate him for his attitude? Of course not, this is Hollywood, so he just says about how she used to be athletic but put on weight when she stopped working out. Then she and her personal aides are discussing how she needs a man, white men are out as are white fat men, because 'fat sex is ass' and it's eventually decided she needs to get a black man because they like something to hold on to. And it's when they're sitting in the Soul Food restaurant that I had to give up.

Time, and probably someone else because I doubt I could watch any more, will tell you whether this show becomes something that suggests that American TV gets over the idea that all Americans are between twenty and forty and increasing their average dress size every year and that's not something to be ashamed of, but I've got a feeling that the first fifteen minutes of this show set the tone for what follows. Fat=bad! Over 40=bad! Wicked, glutinous Kirstie Alley! Back under your blanket! Save America from your corpulance!


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