Well: the comedy thing has started a bit of a local debate. Are some of us against any and all depictions of women by men unless they are trans women? Or do we distinguish categories?
Do we allow some portrayal of women or trans women by straight guys (or gals) – or would we prefer to see none at all? Is it ALL obnoxious? Or are there degrees of obnoxity?
I have little truck with the “cheap laugh” approach (Bruce Forsyth).
But what do we think of the panto tradition? What do we think of drag as art form?
And what about actors and comedians who go down the character route: in serious acting, Julie Andrews in “Victor, Victoria”, Robin Williams in “Mrs Doubtfire” and Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie”; and in comedy, Steve Coogan as Pauline Calf and Peter Kay as Geraldine McQueen (both, I’d suggest, real characters developed and played for a high degree of realism).
There are types such as Lily Savage, played for a while by Paul O’Grady (which probably sits better in the drag category).
Too, there are the oddities, such as Edna Everage, who is both politically inspired in her origins, and a good deal more developed and complex than a simple drag act.
There are the “Carry On” films, in which drag was regularly portrayed purely for its ridiculousness: and there is “League of Gentlemen”, where gender-crossing was a much darker, more common pre-occupation.
Or how about Spike Milligan, who would most certainly have argued that his politically incorrect characterizations (mostly around race) were devised specifically to deconstruct and undermine racist conceptualizations, rather than re-inforce them.
Oddly, in all of this, the one I am finding myself having least sympathy for (apart from Brucie) is David Walliams, whose cross-dressing portrayals feel actually quite spiteful.
I hope this post inspires some debate (as opposed to just flak) – and i’ll end with a piece of Spike Milliganry in which the dressing seems to be the least bizarre of what is going on:
Oh, what the hell: since we’re on the inimitable Mr Milligan, here’s another instance of politically incorrect song: