Monday, 2 November 2009

312: Great Bores of Today

Great Bores of Today
by Richard Ingrams and Barry Fantoni
illustration by Michael Heath
from “Private Eye” 29 April 1977

“Great Bores of Today” was a series that ran several decades in “Private Eye”. The “Great Bore” was some current stereotype or obsessive, giving vent in an unrestrained, slightly inarticulate and self-contradictory monologue to their solipsistic concern, with accompanying cartoon illustration by Michael Heath. Capturing current attitudes in words, accompanied by Heath’s attention to details, the “Bores” are a surprisingly accurate record of the minutiae of British life over the years. Recording changes in the attitudes to jobs, money, weather, sex, politics, and all the things people use to form their identities.

Here Gay Pride catches “Private Eye”’s attention. (and with rather more verisimilitude than their earlier attempt at satirising Gay Lib). Of course, what can’t be overlooked is that this gay character is being mocked for his dreary tedium. But that’s the point of “Great Bores”. It does have the accompanying virtues of currency and accuracy in its taxonomy. Otherwise “Bores” would just be a rather weak attack on things the authors don’t like, and it was usually much better than that.

So this is more than some camp caricature. The emphasis is on the contemporary impetus to not merely admit to being to a homosexual, but of “coming out” as a social and political necessity. “Private Eye”’s impression is that in the general give and take of polite social interaction, the response of gay men when given greater liberty to live their lives openly is to do nothing but talk about is being gay men. So it’s a mockery of what the writers of “Private Eye” perceive as rather vestigial politics – yapping visibility as means of demanding equality rather than action and policies.

About this time, the British public could have seen a normal gay couple who discussed gay issues in the LWT comedy/drama/musical “Rock Follies of ‘77”.

Note the sheer detail of Heath’s illustration. The kitsch decor with camp knick-knacks and a homoerotic item of classical statuary. Books which cover Hollywood divas, Isherwood. A skin mag and a copy of “Gay Times”, which as a moderately political newspaper espouses the same social line as the chap in the cartoon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, where did you source the cartoon? Do you know of a Michael Heath Great Bores archive by any chance too?