There is so much crap on TV that deserves the severest criticism by socialists that when a rare, inspiring programme appears on the box, those of us who spend too much of our time in front of it are more than justified in celebrating the event.
Just such an occasion was the last series of the “The Mark Thomas Comedy Product” (Channel 4). If nothing else, this show achieved something absolutely vital: it was both meaningfully political and very, very funny. Scorching, bang-bang-bang studio stand-up was mixed in with film of Mark and his mates pulling situationist-style stunts at the expense of members of the establishment, the capitalist class, and their shabby hypocrisy.
Those who enjoyed the previous series–gas fat-cat Cedric Brown refusing to meet Thomas and receive a cheque for five grand “we’ve just proved that Cedric Brown is now so rich that he won’t even walk down a flight of stairs for £5000!”); Mark sticking ice cream cones on a tank and inquiring of William Waldegrave about sending it to a “mate in Iraq”–were not disappointed this time out.
In an unforgettable TV moment Mark drew out of a Church of England investment manager that the Church wouldn’t make money from companies concerned with drink or porn on “moral” grounds, but weaponry was fine. He then rolled up with a missile launcher of the type the Church profits from, decked out with the slogan “CHURCH OF ENGLAND–KILLING FOREIGNERS FOR PROFIT AND JESUS”, as a helpful suggestion of how the god squad should publicise their activities. In doing this Thomas was able to reveal “the great and the good” as the callous money-grubbing bastards they often are. And the reaction of the (mostly male) anti-abortion moral fascists he so accurately sent up really was unmissable.
As for the straightforward comedy routines, the anti-work song in the penultimate episode (more “fucks” than you could shake a boss at) had this socialist reaching for “rewind” time after time–a really funny, bitingly accurate ballad against wage slavery.
But any criticisms? Lack of a proposed social alternative, for instance? Not really, because it’s amazing just how much a man so obviously from a libertarian political background was actually able to get away with. In his own postscript to the series Thomas summed up by saying that if the show had been about anything, it was that there is no reason why we should have to put up with the sort of shit he had been tackling.
This wasn’t the political and social action needed to get rid of that shit certainly, and didn’t pretend to be, but the more or this sort of TV there is to combat the lies and dross our class is forever bombarded with the better. Great stuff!