This book explores the interactions of comedy and drama within a group of significant and influential films released during the decade of the 1990s. It examines a group of British films from this period which engage with economic and social issues in unusual and compelling ways. Brassed Off and The Full Monty are two films invoking very different cultural traditions as possible activities for unemployed males and troubled communities in modern British society. The book then discusses a number of contemporary British films focusing upon the experiences of British-Asian and African-Caribbean characters and their efforts to feel 'at home' in Western and British society. It features an extensive analysis of East is East, a comedy-drama about the cultural and ideological tensions surfacing between members of a British-Asian family living in Salford, circa 1971. Next, the book includes case studies of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually. It investigates the ways in which humour is deployed for dramatic and emotional effect in the context of scenarios dealing with such seemingly non-comic subjects as mass unemployment, failed or uneasy relationships, bitter family disputes, or instances of racial tension and conflict in British society. The book demonstrates that the interaction of comic and dramatic modes of narration within the films discussed proved to be a dynamic creative mechanism in 1990s British cinema, facilitating and enabling the construction of innovative and genuinely exploratory narratives about characters who are striving to realise particular aspirations and hopes within a complex culture.
‘Tears of laughter': comedy-drama in 1990s British cinema
. The chapter concludes with
case studies of Brassed Off (Mark Herman, 1996) and The Full
Monty (Peter Cattaneo, 1997), two films invoking very different cultural
traditions as possible activities for unemployed males and troubled
communities in modernBritishsociety.
Chapter 2 discusses a number of
contemporary British films focusing upon the experiences of British-Asian
healthcare as they are in a position to shape its nature—in ways that
are, so far, little understood.
Looking at migration history from a different angle and exploring
questions such as these is important not just because it adds to our
historical understanding but also because it can help us to think differently about the place of migrants in modernBritishsociety and
elsewhere. This at a time when political debates around this question
abound, without critical histories of population movement having any
discernible role to play in them. The role of the
of modernBritishsociety on the principle of the gift relation.
Modern society cannot be reduced to Adam Smith’s and Milton
Friedman’s network market relations mediated by Hermes, because the great
accumulation of wisdom in humanity’s mythic and moral patrimony knows
that Hermes is a Trickster, one of whose core characteristics is his tendency to
run amok. The deep meaning of ‘Economics’ has always been from the
management of the household, the Oikos, and the free market must ultimately
be accountable to Hestia’s domestic science, the arts and
argued that the Manchester-based Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) made important interventions in British political culture. 26 Peter Gurney's seminal study argued that British co-operation constituted ‘a particular mode of consumption [that] generated fierce and protracted social conflicts’. Co-operation represented an alternative paradigm for consumption to that offered by capitalist entrepreneurs. By generating debate and conflict around the sphere of consumption, the co-operative movement shaped modernBritishsociety. 27 Manu Goswami argues how, in colonial
a more global culture, or at least into
the culture of the Western English-speaking world. This brings us
full circle, back to the point at which we started in this epilogue – the
continued prominence of graphic violence in pastimes that we enjoy in
the early twenty-first century. The violent films and computer games
we encountered at the opening of the epilogue await their historian
to uncover the links between them and chart the meaning of their
time-bound narratives to post-modernBritishsociety. But surely the
eagerness which we display in securing tickets to
continuing ones, which are shared with many others, and can be picked up by those who do not yet have them (they are public properties). If I pass on my understandings to others (through speaking with them on the basis of those understandings) then the language will continue to be spoken even after I cease to speak it, though, of course, the understandings I employ may cease to be shared by other speakers. My ‘part’ in the English language is surely nothing like my part in modernBritishsociety. To give the simplest example, the connection between my action of posting a
Working men’s bodies
47 Neil Evans, ‘South Wales has been Roused as Never Before’: Marching
against the Means Test, 1934–1936, in D. W. Howell and K. O. Morgan
(eds), Crime, Protest and Police in ModernBritishSociety, University
of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1999, 183.
48 Croucher, We Refuse, 148.
49 DW, 21 July 1933.
50 National Unemployed Workers Movement, The Fight Against Unemployment and Poverty: Our plan for action, NUWM, London, 1934,
5–6; see also W. Hannington, Work for Wages not Slave Camps,
NUWM, London, 1934.
such a designation was somewhat limiting and did not cover the
full extent of the history that we were writing. We did, however, use the work
of prominent social historians as a starting point, inspired by the importance
they attached to trade unions, class, and the study of industry (for example Cole and Postgate 1948; Hobsbawm 1968; Thompson 1963; Webb and
Webb 1920). Of equal interest was that their histories of modernBritishsociety were constructed ‘from the bottom’, with the emphasis on those workers whose stories had been marginalised in previous historical
who are white, Anglo-Saxon and bigoted,
and they need to be represented. (Eric Forth MP, 24 October 2000, quoted in Walters,
During his leadership campaign and in the early part of his tenure William Hague
was keen to present himself as embodying a fresh face for conservatism. As such,
he recognised the need to present himself and his party as at ease with modernBritishsociety, including its non-traditional and multicultural aspects. Another
element of this strategy was a more liberal approach and softer tone on sexual and
moral issues such as gay