For the purposes of fairness I would like to point out that I am a massive fan of the person I will be discussing in this piece.
Praise be to God, which ever one it is you support, (as an atheist I’m not sure how it works but I have assumed that it is a bit like football. Your choice of football team/ religion is sort of forced on you as a child and there is really very little you can do about it. Although there will be some people who choose which ever one is winning) for Chris Morris is back.
He seems to have been away for a very long time, yes there were those excellent appearances in the IT Crowd and Head Jam (a radio series) and Jam (for TV from the radio show) were great but since the controversy around the Brass Eye paedophilia special he has kept somewhat of a low profile seeming to have decided that writing, such as the brilliant Nathan Barley with Charlie Brooker and script editing Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, was the way forward.
So those of us that our fans of the great man, I’m not including the Daily Mail on that list, “Ban This Sick Filth”, the Premier of his new film “Four Lions” at the Sundance Film Festival is a really big deal. And so, it seems, is it a big deal for the press who really, really want to be offended.
For those of you that don’t know the film is a comedy following some Jihadist as they prepare for a suicide bombers. The planning and the purchasing of equiment. Ok, so some people may think that this isn’t a subject for comedy but one of the things you will notice about the sort of people that think that terrorism isn’t a subject of laughs are the same sort of people that think that racist and misogynist comedy is fine.
The build up to being offended has already begun. On Sunday morning Andrew Marr’s program tried to bring it up as the film was on the covered in the papers but was shot down by the lovely Kirstie Young who said that any subject should be up for comedy and on Monday morning I turned on the Today program which was doing an article from the Festival and weren’t really talking about the film, they were talking about who might find what offensive. The Mail, who has a bit of a history with Morris, also published an article on Sunday about the film with out having seen it.
But as it was before so it is again, and it seems that the point is being missed. The “Controversial” Brass Eye special was not about “isn’t sexually abusing children funny”, it was about how the media hysterically over reacts to this, thankfully, quite rare crime. In that case either the media missed this subtle distinction, some of those who claimed to be offended also admitted that they hadn’t actually seen the program, or they wilfully ignored it because it was about them and they didn’t like it.
The film, it seems, is about 4 men and their relationship. Yes they are Jihadists and yes, they do try and carry out a suicide bombing at the London marathon dressed as comedy big animals but it is still about the relationship between some men. And to be perfectly honest what is wrong with mocking terrorists? Why can’t he do this? They are bastards after all. Would it not do us some good to laugh at people like this? To point out the ridiculousness of what they do and of their silly beliefs? I mean, 72 virgins? Really? Is that what you want? And are some attempted suicide bombers a bit stupid? Thunderpants bomber, Glasgow Airport not measuring the size of the door and the size of his car. The suicide bomber who inserted the explosives into his rectum and succeeded in blowing himself to pieces but no one else. Come on these people need to have the piss taken out of them. This film is not mocking the victims of any terrorist outrage; it is mocking some stupid people who aren’t very bright and their stupid ideas. And maybe the idea of the bombings themselves.
I truly don’t understand how mocking these people is offensive but I also don’t understand the bigger argument of “there are some things that comedy should avoid”. Why should it? If a joke is funny, the joke is funny. We live in a culture of fear that is perpetuated by our press who go on constantly about the threat terrorism. Terrorists, by definition, exist to spread terror. They have not been defeated by armies and air forces, maybe laughing at them will have more effect. Let us replace the fear with laughter. If a terrorist can no longer terrorise you because you are chuckling at a joke you heard about terrorists surely he has lost.