Saturday, September 13, 2008

In praise of populist entertainment

This year like no other I am in thrall to the cracktastic circus that is the US Election trail, but last night I managed to behave like a normal human being and go out to the movies with my friends. We were determined to see Mamma Mia!, and how could I resist it? I have to say, opening moment with Amanda Seyfried were dodgy, I had a kind of weird out seeing Dominic Cooper looking buff and tanned and sincere since it was only last week that I saw him in concentration camp issue pyjamas smugly assuming that he wasn't a victim of the latest selection in the extraordinary God On Trial. Then Streep started singing, and I was a goner.

I've never been a huge Streep fan, but Mamma Mia! won me over entirely. Her singing was terrific and she kept the show on the road until the support staff were safely in place, in the form of Christine Baranski and Julie Walters. Now there have been dismissive reviews of the movie, but it deserves every ounce of success and kudos for various reasons - first and foremost that the real leads are mature characters in their 40s/50s, secondly for its sheer exuberance and enthusiasm and finally for its simplicity and lack of cynicism. It is a wonderful night out and Judy Craymer who devised the show and pushed to make the move is a genius.

The other piece of populist entertainment that I'd like to celebrate is the Simpsons. Without the Simpsons, my life as a teacher would be infinitely harder. It may be different in America, but in Europe where most people prefer secular humanism to churchgoing, it is increasingly difficult to teach those classics which are littered with Biblical references. Lo, the Simpsons descends in clouds of glory, for within the series are embedded the cultural markers not just of our age, but of ages past. I checked out with a class of 14 year olds the identities of Cain and Abel, Joshua, Jonah, the Whale, Samson, David and Bathsheba and Solomon, and they were all able to relate the Simpsonic circumstances in which these Old Testament figures had been namechecked. Thank you to the erudite, literate, witty writers who have made this teacher's life so much easier.

1 comment:

Mama Evelyn said...

Now try The Family Guy...