Friday was Red Nose Day, something of a British insitution these days, and a charity that has a its time raised a seemingly colossal amount of money for the causes it supports, both at home and overseas. This years "Red Noses Night" was the first since I succumbed to the vice that is social media, and it was interesting (and enlightening) to see the comments being posted by friends of all sorts of religious and political persuasions. Many commented that it just wasn't funny. A lot (a count myself among them) were uncomfortable with the extensive use of sexualised language long before the watershed. God may not be offended by the use of the word "shag" (duck? carpet pile?) but it was hardly appropriate for the under 12s watch the programme as early evening family entertainment.
I was uncomfortable with the portrayal of Peter Kaye's "wife" in purda, not entirely sure about the Simon Cowell marriage sketch, and thought that the Archbish sketch fell short of what the trailers had promised. As for Ricky Gervais... just plain disappointing.
I have yet to work out why someone shaving their hair off is "funny", and in common with many of my friends (though not all) who have been through chemotherapy could not have watched that bit had it actually been shown live (as advertised)... I physically cringed when Lenny Henry cut the first lock of hair. That doesn't mean it should not have happened, but I do think there is something ghoulish about televising women having their heads shaved (or men having their legs waxed for that matter). Funny it is not.
For me there were a few funny sketches... the Dibley explanation of the failure of the vote to allow women bishops (predictable as soon as you knew who was going to do the voting, but even so) and the horse-meat ready meals. I also like the One Born Every Minute/Call the Midwife sketch, though the best bits had already been seen in the trailers.
I think that some interesting and useful conversations have been started among those prepared to move beyond either knee-jerk reactions either to bad language or to other people's reactions to bad language. Tony Campolo has been quoted a few times (if you're more worried about the language than the issue something is wrong) but actually this isn't a binary thing, but very complex, and no easy answers or quick fixes.
There are lots of more entertaining, more thoughtful and more erudite responses floating about the ether, via blogs and other media such as...
Archdruid Eileen here
Tea & Cake here