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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is there anyone else who doesn't get "Withnail"?

The texts have been flying between Plymouth and London as various members of my family express increduality about the Sunday Times giving away a DVD of "Withnail & I", (along the lines "would anyone want it?") and, I notice today, devoting the front page of the Culture section to "A Messy Masterpiece".

You see, we have all tried to watch - and like - Withnail but we couldn't last beyond 30 minutes. Pretentious old tosh was the general conclusion.

It's not that we don't have a sense of humour. Your middle class lip may now curl when I share with you that we love Monty Python, "Clockwise," "Carry on Camping," "Mrs Doubtfire" and "The Great St Trinians Bank Robbery". The intellectuals among you are probably now sneering about obvious humour and low brow taste. That's as maybe (to quote Python). I take a more robust view which is that Withnail has somehow reached cult status, not because it is bad, (which is irony, and a good thing) but because it's one of those "emperor's new clothes" situations ("ENC").

Thanks to ENC, many movements, genres, artists and writers with only slight talent and frankly boring films have been elevated beyond their feeble status because it makes people feel good to think they "get" something that someone else doesn't.

I have a whole list of what I define as ENC:
1) Goat's cheese
2) Banksy
3) Malcolm Gladwell
4) Martin Amis
5) David Starkey
6) U2
7) Withnail & I
8) Green & Blacks
9) "The Bloomsbury set"
10) Myleene Klass
11) Ralph Lauren
12) Beth Ditto
13) Peaches Geldof
14) Cirque du Soleil

What do you think? Can I expect to see some stout rebuttals and defending of Withnail?

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