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World War - No Laughing Matter!

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Introduction

World War - No Laughing Matter! Ask someone what their views on war are and your average reply will be something like: " War is unjustifiable, there is no right in war, innocent lives are taken and the effects are devastating." This is a perfectly reasonable answer being both morally and ethically right, but what if you were to ask the same person what they think of programs such as Dad's Army and 'Allo 'Allo, your answer may be: " Excellent, they are hilarious very entertaining programs which keep me amused for hours." These two answers imply to me that the person is a little two faced. They are aware of the horrors of war and yet find it perfectly acceptable to laugh at these tragic situations being portrayed on television for comedy purposes. So, is it right to make war into a laughing matter or should we just leave the past behind us? To answer this question I have studied three war comedies: Dad's Army, 'Allo 'Allo, and Blackadder. These sitcoms although very entertaining can sometimes become inconsiderate and offensive. Some would say that it is all right to make war into a laughing matter as it helps people come to terms with the past and turns something negative into something positive. Others would say that it could never be acceptable to make a mockery of war no matter what the circumstances. They would argue that although it is right to move on we should show respect for those who fought and suffered traumatic experiences to become our real war heroes. Dad's Army has been a long running British comedy series based on the Home Guard in the Second World War. The series deals with seven main characters who live within the small seaside town of "Walmington-on-Sea". The team is led by a pompous bank manager, Mr George Mainwaring who gets the platoon involved in some hilarious exploits in the name of civil defence. ...read more.

Middle

Many were put on the hit lists of the Gestapo, but that did not stop them, their need for killing to end just grew stronger. It is interesting the way 'Allo 'Allo can extract comedy out of circumstances that to the people who lived during these times would have been not only horrific and terrifying but also disturbing. The only way they manage to do this is by ignoring the suffering and concentrating fully on the comedy of the relationships between characters. For example Lieutenant Hubert Gruber's homosexual tendencies towards R�n� and the beautiful waitresses who persist in making passes at R�n� while his wife is not around. The final program I studied to produce a suitable answer to the question in hand was Blackadder. Blackadder is a British comedy series, which spans all the way from the fifthteenth century to the Fist World War. The series we studied was the series based on World War One: Blackadder goes Forth. Throughout the series we witness the trials and tribulations of Captain Blackadder and his team. They joined the British Army when it was little more than a travel agency for gentlemen with an abnormally high sex drive, but it then got a lot more serious and the cast suddenly find themselves twenty yards away from a lot of heavily armed people who would like nothing more but to kill them. Some people would say that within this series of Blackadder there was an element of black humour. We like to sit down in front of our television screens and watch it idly without thinking of the reality of the situations portrayed. For example, there is an episode where Captain Blackadder finds himself up against a firing squad and although we know perfectly well that somehow he will come out of it alive, to those who actually experienced these horrific wartime situations or perhaps lost an innocent loved one to a firing squad then it would appear anything but funny. ...read more.

Conclusion

However we were proved wrong when reading the questionnaire of one elderly lady who said that Dad's Army was very accurate, she found it very entertaining and not at all disrespectful. In our groups we also decided that you could Dad's Army or 'Allo 'Allo as many times as you wanted without learning anything about war. This proves that the aim is to focus on the relationships and interplay between characters and not to abuse the delicate situation of war. I am someone whose feelings about war have been derived purely from propaganda, TV, books and films such as Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List. With this in mind I would say that although it is wrong to trivialise and laugh at human misery, successful war comedies do not do this, they make us laugh at other, less horrible aspects of war such as collaboration, resistance, volunteer armies and making the enemy appear stupid. There are many people who have been involved in war who refuse to watch programs such as Dad's Army and 'Allo 'Allo as they either hold such a strong grudge towards the enemy or just don't want to be reminded of the horrific situations they had to live through. In my opinion the humour portrayed in these television sitcoms can be a healthy outlet for pent up feelings, it can relieve stress, break down barriers and get rid of a lot of underlying anxieties. We must always remember that these programs certainly do not laugh at suffering. They show how it is possible to extract comedy out of tragic situations. Far from trivialising suffering Dad's Army and 'Allo 'Allo seem deeply respectful of the historical truth while at the same time encouraging us to laugh at imaginary characters. Blackadder is different because the comedy has a harder, blacker more controversial edge. Producers of these sitcoms need to know when to draw the line, in the first two they seem to have got it right but I am not so sure about Blackadder. 1 1 ...read more.

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