That Ricky Gervaise Thing

TV Something I forgot to mention the other day and Jack's asked about in the comments is what I thought of the Ricky Gervaise sketch on Comic Relief. Actually it was probably the most exciting thing all night. True this was Gervaise using the well worn patter from previous years of being a dick for a charitable cause, but it was fairly groundbreaking to see the likes of Bono and Bob Geldoff somewhat demonstrating a recognition that a certain camp has been attached to what they do and that they are able to not take themselves so seriously.

The key to the skit's success was that everyone was in on the joke -- throughout the show it had been trailed as Gervaise as we'd never seen him before, bursting into tears with the clip freezing at just the moment when this version of him was to break character. And the predominance of charity films throughout the night with the likes of Ant & Dec breaking down at the sight of poverty inadvertently put the viewer into a false sense of expectation that this was the moment when we'd see Rick being serious for a change.

But that Ant & Dec film, repeated throughout the night with all of the crying is essentially what Gervaise was attacking. The appeal films have become less and less about the individuals who have the problems than the stars visiting them and their reaction to the problem. They're obviously supposed to be our eyes and ears - our way into a situation that's apart from our own experience. The problem with that approach is that these stars are somewhat away from our own experience as well, and theres a sense of us being dictated to, essentially being told how to feel about these situations.

Obviously the intentions are well meant, but it's not difficult to understand Gervaise's suggestion that to a degree these films serve to help the star's career by giving them a sheen of likability and benevolence and understanding. But it would be nice next time to bring in an element of the general public -- the very people who've given their money to help the charity being introduced to the people they've helped, shown directly for themselves what their donation has done.

Another idea would be for a narrative element to be introduced -- what amounts to a single documentary made through a single voice broken up and strewn through the night opening up the possibility that people will be more likely to watch those appeals to see what happens next. Or for them to be structured around themes -- one of the issues I've always had is that the 'Africa' films are always of a different quality to the 'British' films. Why not look for ways to link them together perhaps demonstrating how the same problems can crop up in both places and Comic Relief treats them in equal measure.

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