Comedy and cultural value
From bad taste to gross-out
in Laughing matters
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This chapter examines some films and programmes which raise questions about taste and about cultural values. It looks at some detailed examples of comedy in radio, film and television that raises issues of taste. The chapter begins by looking at the Carry On films and the work of Benny Hill, examples primarily located in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. It then moves on to trace the origins and development of the gross-out movie from the abandonment of the Production Code in 1966 to the present. The chapter considers Borat, a film that pushes at boundaries of 'good taste' and 'political correctness' but which has enjoyed considerable critical and commercial success, and the controversial Four Lions. In addition to national and even regional determinants, it seems clear that class and gender are important factors influencing attitudes towards comedic taste.

Laughing matters

Understanding film, television and radio comedy

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