Please excuse me if I do a little thinking aloud on this sunny Friday afternoon, but:
Remember when people used to find drunks funny? (I mean on TV and in movies – they’re still pretty hilarious on YouTube.)
Sure you do.
So, what happened? Where did they all go? Well, sometime during the politically correct ’90s, I suppose we all realized that a life of hard drinking rarely leads to humour – instead, it more often ends in a sad state of loneliness and medical bills.
It wasn’t the first time popular culture has had to reevaluate one of its stock characters, (I don’t think we need to go into the the moronic housewife/uneducated black servant/black-faced entertainer,) and I’m here to suggest that maybe its time to take another look at an old standard.
Now, listen, sometimes a talented artist can find himself in a bad bit; Rowan Atkinson is a hilarious fellow with fantastic timing and a glorious wit – when used properly.
The problem, however, is the dimwitted mute which arguably made Atkinson famous overseas.
While there are many that fit the category of lovable imbecile, the worst offender, to my mind, is Mr. Bean. Of course, I utilize “imbecile” in place of a word I was much freer with in my youth – one associated with Down’s Syndrome and a bevy of other genetic and mental disorders.
I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but aren’t we just laughing at people too stupid to be functional? I understand the need for slow characters – I’ve used them myself on more than a few occasions – but if the person realistically ought to be in some sort of assisted living home (or, say, has a number of odd facial ticks and tends to wander around with a stuffed animal,) maybe it’s something we shouldn’t be laughing at.