Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The good old days

Oh dear. The silent majority is getting its granny pants in a twist again, this time for something that didn't even happen. They're upset about Sandi Toksvig's cunt, which made an under-the-radar appearance on Radio 4's The News Quiz six months ago. Before you start thinking that everyone's favourite knitted lesbian is trying to give Howard Stern a run for his money, it's worth pointing out that this is one cunt that never actually passed her lips. First time for everything.

Anyway, the extent of Sandy's vagina monologue was a pretty feeble attempt at political humour, as she commented that 'It's the Tories who have put the "n" into cuts'. It's doubtful that Frankie Boyle will be scribbling that one down for future reference. And yet, despite the fact that she never actually said anything rude, there's been a belated outcry about the fact that the BBC thought it was acceptable to broadcast "the most offensive word in English language on the radio at 6.30pm." Even though they didn't. It's like me getting upset about Bill Turnbull asking Kate Silverton if she's ever tried DVDA on this morning's Breakfast, just because I imagine the thought might once have crossed his mind.

But according to the self-appointed moral guardians, this expletive-ridden culture is just another sign of how we've lost our collective innocence. What's needed is a return to the good old days, when men wore hats and women kept the drinks topped up (if they knew what was good for them). Back when people needed instructional videos that explained how to conduct themselves in potentially dicey social situations.

Take 'Dating Do's and Don'ts' for example. Originally released in 1949, it gave horny American teenagers a step-by-step account of how to go on a date without coming across like a lifer getting a conjugal visit. Our hero is the appropriately named 'Woody', who receives a free ticket to the local fair, courtesy of an injured friend. Problem is, the ticket admits "one couple", which gets Woody thinking. Given his third-year reading level, the thinking takes quite a while, but he eventually comes to the conclusion that he's ready to start dating.

Inspired by his super-cool brother Ed (leather bomber jacket and a breezy phone manner), Woody asks his mother for permission to go on a date. She's not too keen on the idea, probably because she's harbouring the dark secret that, like Don Draper in Mad Men, Woody's a 'whore child', taken in at birth by his bitter grandmother. Nonetheless, she acquiesces and allows her naive ward to go out on Saturday, warning "If you don't overdo on dating. Ed knows what I mean." I guess cock-rot was rife in post-war America.

The film also offers some helpful tips on selecting the right girl for a date. Interestingly, it advises against going out with anyone too hot, because she'll only act superior. Likewise, quiet girls make for boring company. Best to go for someone who laughs a lot and can cram half a roll of candy floss in her mouth without missing a breath. Clearly, Woody's not as stupid as he looks.

After crashing and burning with a couple of ill-advised opening lines, our plucky hero finally lands a date with Ann who, well, let's just say I don't imagine she was inundated with offers. We even get to see inside Ann's bedroom as she preps for her big date, dancing around with a dress that the women of Westboro Baptist Church might dismiss as being a little too plain. Meanwhile, Woody panics that he hasn't picked up any flowers and asks Ed whether he needs to grab a bunch. Getting ready for his own big date, Ed explains "I'm taking these to Mary because it's a special occasion". Yeah, someone's getting anal tonight.

Thankfully, our happy couple finally make it to the fair, and the air is crackling with sexual tension. Or that might just be the degraded sixty-year old audio. Either way, it's clear that sex is on both their minds, since every square inch of the set is festooned with sausage-shaped balloons. After speaking to a man with the world's least convincing moustache Ann and Woody grab a bite to eat. Clearly knowing more than he's letting on, Woody gives his date a delicious hotdog, then looks crestfallen as she gingerly nibbles the end of it, like she's trying not to pinch the frenulum.

The evening ends with a chaste goodnight on Ann's doorstep, so the final piece of advice covers how to end a date with the right bon mot. "Thanks, I had a real swell time" is spot on. "Tits or face?" - not so much. Still, looking back at these quaint guidance films, it's hard to believe that anyone got to second base, never mind plucking up the courage to procreate.

This week David Cameron backed a report recommending a new code for clothes retailers, developed in conjunction with the British Retail Consortium. Its aim is to steer retailers away from selling sexually suggestive clothes and swimwear to children, because the campaigners behind the report are concerned about the premature sexualisation of children. Apparently, some people don't like the idea of a six year-old wearing a T-shirt that says "So many boys, so little time". What's wrong with teaching kids about the importance of prioritisation?  The upside of all this, is that if we keep our fingers crossed, we might yet get to see what Woody and Ann did next. 

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