Thursday, 26 June 2014

Just for fun…pop, politics and teenagers

Here's a historical curio for you. I'm writing an article (possibly a book) on creative writing by politicians. As background research, I'm reading Steven Fielding's survey of politics in popular culture, A State of Play, which is fascinating. 

It's led me to Just For Fun, a 1963 teen movie which mixes musical numbers with a story of fun-loving teens being crushed by the pop-hating Right Party and cynically used by the secretly-pop-hating Left Party. Various incredibly bland pop groups appear performing songs with utterly lame slightly political songs, shoe-horned in to a terrible plot. For added joy, celebrity paedophile Jimmy Savile appears, as does Alan 'Fluff' Freeman. It's one of the corniest things I've ever seen, and it's great fun. By the end, the Teen Party wins the election…and destroys the country.

Another teens-meet-politics novel, Angus McGill's Yea Yea Yea was very freely adapted for Press for Time, a truly awful Norman Wisdom vehicle. Can you last for the whole trailer? 'Get an eyeful of les girls: they're busting out all over!'

Sadly I can't find any footage of Swizzlewick, the cynical and 'lewd' local politics satire (the Guardian: 'a new low in tastelessness') and only episode is believed to exist, but you can have a speech from Dennis Potter's 1965 Vote, Vote, Vote for Nigel Barton, which was yanked from the broadcast schedules hours before it was meant to go out so that its satire could be watered down to avoid offending the poor political classes. 

I've recently read Wilfred Fienburgh MP's No Love For Johnnie (an MP who is 'the most unmitigated, grasping and self-important bastard...' encountered in politics) which one review reproduced on the cover declares 'the most cynical book ever written on any subject'. I haven't yet watched the film, but note that what was an X certificate in 1961 is now merely a 12. Whereas the contemporary reviewers condemned its focus on 'sordid mattress capers', the BBFC now merely notes 'moderate sex references and languages'. 

There's no footage from the film online, but here's some of the music – it's by Malcolm Arnold and therefore is great. 

1 comment:

Phil said...

"Sordid mattress capers"! And can that really be Keith Barron?

Which reminds me, I've got a (hardback) copy of The Glittering Coffin, the state-of-the-nation polemic which Dennis Potter wrote at the age of 24, straight out of national service & university. (Never read it, though.) Publishing was different then.

(Incidentally, I'm finding it hard to resist changing that line to "somewhere I've got...", the idiom comes so naturally. But it's not 'somewhere' at all - it's in the third of my non-fiction bookcases, under P.)