Reply to post: I always preferred Rising Damp

Happy birthday Alf Garnett, you daft, reactionary old git

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I always preferred Rising Damp

Rigsby was a better class of bigot.

An obvious physical coward, lying about his wartime service to impress or curry favour with those he chose to argue with. His sheer impotence as witnessed by his kicking of Vienna the cat when things didn't go his way. His blatant sexual jealousy towards Philip, not least because Ms. Jones had the hots for him in a BIG way.

How the hell do you make a character like that palatable, let alone endearing and funny?

But it worked, and you can watch the old episodes of Rising Damp and they never fail to raise a chuckle. Timeless might be a word to describe it, though it is obviously very dated stylistically apart from general attitudes.

Alf Garnett might have had a point at one time, or he may not. But it's not a place I would wish to revisit today, for comedy value anyway.

Philip, who may or may not have actually been a real African Chief, was the real star of that show (Rising Damp) in many ways. He was certainly the most suave. Also he had a very humanistic magnanimity towards not just Rigsby who was clearly baiting him, but also Alan, who displayed a modicum of what I would call 'ignorant' racism - that is, lack of insight into his culture, as opposed to the overt and malicious racism, of a little Island Monkey (what the Germans call us) who felt threatened and was impotently and blindly trying to hit back by any means necessary.

Alan was definitely a little ignorant (as most people would have been at that time), but he was curious and good natured and genuinely wanted to know more. Then again, Rigsby was more of a pathetic character than an outright malicious one. You knew he never really did kick Vienna down the stairs, but when you heard him yell 'Go ooon, geroutofit, miserable little blighter', the joke was ultimately on him. A form of slapstick comedy, that I dare say had all but had its day by then, but was somehow tenuously living on in the remnants of the new media of the day.

Back then it was cutting edge stuff. Today it's all been so rehashed and reboiled that there is no goodness left anywhere in the form, let alone the content.

The SitCom as it was to become known was still a pretty hit and miss affair, and experiments were still being done. It escapes me now whether either of those shows were filmed in front of a live studio audience, or perhaps even from the stage itself. Still, call them racist and unpolitically correct all you want. It was a more innocent age in many ways. A time where people could voice their (however abhorrent) viewpoints. Today, resentments fester, and we don't get to laugh at EACH OTHER, as we should be allowed to do in any fruitful and healthy society.

And for that reason, I mourn their passing more than any other.

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