Channel 4 have commissioned a sitcom depicting the Irish Famine to raucous tweeting and bleeting. The show is already the most hotly anticipated event on the 2015 TV schedule – nothing incites viewership quite like anger, and people all over Ireland are tweeting their disgust at having such a momentous era in Irish history being pilloried for public consumption. We can’t wait for it.
Readers of this site may not fully remember the uproar in Ireland when it was revealed Channel 4 (again) had decided to make a show about 3 Irish clergymen. The show had been rejected in no uncertain terms by RTE, who wouldn’t dare risk the wrath of their viewers by having such a sacred institution blasphemed for cheap laughs. The show was then commissioned by Channel 4, who helped to create a cultural milestone that made it fine to take the piss out of the twisted and ugly mire that was the Irish priesthood. Father Ted gave us a new and liberating angle to look at religion and all the nonsense that came with it.
As a country, Ireland is built on a culture of piss-taking. Nobody can honestly say they haven’t sniggered at an off-color joke about something heinous. Whether it’s about race, rape, religion, terrorism, sexism – you name it. These things are all reprehensible and have no rightful place in society, but they do exist. Not all jokes about these subjects are funny and they must be handled carefully – deride the concept itself rather than the horrible effects they can have. Laughing at something isn’t the same as condoning it. Comedy is about release more so than anything else, without it we literally wouldn’t laugh.
Then we really would be fucked.
Lashing and beating a bloke to high heaven who was just trying to help people before letting him bleed to death while nailed on to a cross isn’t funny. Certainly not in and of itself, anyway. Neither is the ritualistic stoning to death for even the most trivial of offences. But have you ever seen Life Of Brian? Have a look at this and just try not to laugh…
But back to the Famine. It is the single most abhorrent occurrence in the history of our country, there is absolutely nobody who would claim that the death of two million people from food blight is anything other than tragic. However, Alan Partridge, a comedy character who is incidentally a complete idiot, voiced his particularly ignorant opinion on it in I’m Alan Partridge.
By the way, the two Irish characters you see here were the writers of Father Ted.
Art and comedy are there to give us perspective, we’re not saying this new famine sitcom, Hungry, will be good, funny or even inoffensive. But it’s important to laugh in this day and age.
Nobody will be made to watch it, but no doubt the people who are complaining certainly will.