Divide and Stoop to Conquer

Okay, so over at The Age this just happened:

throughout Angry Boys the language is appalling, family interaction is wholly dysfunctional and there are repeated references to all manner of sexual deviations – dog-wanking and grandma-groping chief among them. If this is comedic genius, Rodney Rude and Kevin ”Bloody” Wilson deserve lifetime achievement awards.

The publicity team at the ABC must be rubbing their hand with glee so violently over this one they’ll have to have safety officers standing by with fire extinguishers in case their palms burst into flames. While there’s very little on the factual front that former Herald-Sun editor Guthrie gets wrong – having recently watched episode 5 of Angry Boys, it’s amazing just how much the “comedy” revolves around dick, ball and piss jokes – the approach he takes is playing right into Lilley’s hands.

While recently most of the positive press for Lilley’s series has revolved around his supposedly subtle and insightful character shenanigans, the original hook for his work going all the way back to We Can Be Heroes has been how “shocking” and “confrontational” his comedy is. That’s why, as we’ve pointed out previously, the approach of a new series by Lilley is always and without fail signaled by news reports claiming that one character or another is going to spark a wave of outrage. A wave, it’s worth pointing out yet again, that never arrives – unless there have been riots over Gran’s racist comments that didn’t make the news? No? Didn’t think so.

The reason why this kind of attack on Lilley’s work is not only pointless but actively harmful to sensible debate is because it just reinforces a divide that already exists. The people who already think Lilley is a dirt-monger will nod sagely, safe in the knowledge that their blinkered view has been confirmed; those who think his dick jokes are a cutting-edge attack on society’s stifling morality will nod sagely, seeing this article as proof that Lilley is bang on target.

As far as we’re concerned, the real truth doesn’t so much lie between those two irrelevant extremes as it does off in the direction of “is it funny?”. And as even his firmest supporters are increasingly admitting, it’s not. If you want to make a real point about the quality of a supposed comedy, that’s the direction you should approach it from, not asinine cries that it should be pulled off air for violating the ABC’s charter.

No doubt someone somewhere is already penning a defense of Lilley, claiming that Guthrie has missed the point of his satire. Save your ink: if Australia’s self-styled “master of disguise” doesn’t figure out a way to make people laugh and fast, his already plummeting ratings – down from 1.3 million to 800,000 in three weeks – will make the only real point to be made about Angry Boys abundantly clear. Even when it’s left on the bonnet of a police car, this shit ain’t funny.

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1 Comment

  • billyc says:

    The true test of the ratings will be when it doesn’t have the state of origin to compete with. It did however lose a lot of Melbourne viewers for episode three. It’s disappointing that when the jokes do come with the surfer guy they aren’t very good. A huge portion of this series is Lilly in character talking to camera. He’s much better off interacting with the other actors, if only he’d give them a few seconds to do something.