Thursday, 19 January 2012

A letter to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo:

Recently, I've been catching up on your podcasts, having missed several weeks of live shows.  One thing I've noticed is Mark's regular disparaging remarks about so called "comedies" such as The Hangover.  A few weeks ago, while I watched Burn After Reading (3 laughs); a question occurred to me upon which I'd like to hear your views:  is modern American comedy predicated on the assumption that the audience is stupid and that, as a consequence, the audience finds stupidity funny?  

I'll rant about Burn After Reading because it is the most recent example I have watched, but you could substitute any one of a hundred other films.  It was impossible to connect with the characters played by Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Frances McDormand - they had no character traits other than stupidity and self-centredness.  They just weren't interesting.  Surely comedy works best when you have sympathy for a character?  The only main character in that film who wasn't vapid, stupid and self-centred was John Malkovich's, Ossie Cox.  Ditto, he was the only really interesting person.  And yet, in a film which starts off about the disintegration of his life, he rapidly becomes a bit-part character because the producers/director/writers found it easier to focus on the stupid characters.

Anyway, what do you think?    Is it possible for modern Hollywood to produce a comedy about well rounded characters which relies on intelligence and wit to be funny? 

Love the show, Steve.  Say "Hi" to Jason Isaacs for me.

- Pam

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