Analysing humour, as the famous formulation goes, is like pulling the wings off a beautiful fly to see if it can still dance to anything by Phil Collins and/or Genesis (or any eighties era bands that flies liked then) – it’s a horrifying ordeal best left to the imagination. But with all the hoohaa surrounding 10:10’s video of exploding (sceptical) children, added to the fact that all the hoohaa will soon be approaching its sixth anniversary and still seems to erupt on a semi-regular basis, pulling the wings off this particular fly is, in my book, necessary and overdue. So here goes.
I don’t think the ‘No Pressure’ film was offensive. I wasn’t upset by the idea of climate sceptics being destroyed for the hesitant, mild qualms they had in the video. And I don’t think climate justice warriors made a huge error in putting the film out. It’s not tasteless in the way that many sceptics characterised it as. The violence is cartoonish, the set-up clearly absurd, the intention light-hearted – even affectionate.
So the film wasn’t tasteless, and wasn’t offensive. What it was, however, was boring. By 2010, writer of the film Richard Curtis’s schtick was so old and creaking it was like watching a nonagenarian earnestly arrange what’s left of his hair because he thinks he’s in with a chance with the 22-yr-old cleaner. Heartbreaking, really.
What schtick am I talking about? The essence of it comes in the first few minutes of Four Weddings and a Funeral. Posh, upper middle class Hugh Grant is late for a wedding and for the next three minutes we’re treated to one ‘Fuck!’ after another. That’s the joke. Beautifully articulate, well-spoken and respectable Hugh confounds your expectations with three minutes of ‘Fuck!!’.
This is Curtis’s schtick. His world is the world of stiff, hesitant, slightly prim, middle-class, diffident English people suddenly confounding your expectations with vulgarity and violence.
Haha. Funny. It’s because you weren’t expecting it. And oh, how it jars! So funny.
Actually no – not funny. Funny in 1985 when Phil Collins was at his height. But ready for the grave by 2010 – rotting and surrounded by flies. Wingless flies.
Incapable of dancing. Think about it.