Sunday, 4 March 2012

It's not Fur

"Carry on Cabby" could be a difficult film for a modern woman to appreciate.  It is a funny film, no doubt about that - I defy anyone not to laugh at Kenneth Connor dressed up as a Glamcab driver - but feminist it most definitely is not.  If you took this film to be an accurate description of society, the only way women can succeed is to be pretty and well endowed.  And the only reason they want to succeed is to get the attention of a man.

On the other hand, all of the male characters are complete idiots one way or another, and are easily outwitted by the women.  When the male cabbies try to stop Esma Cannon's character from taking out her sick husband's cab, their reaction is hilarious.  Scared to death of a woman elbowing into a male dominated workplace, they deny her the chance to help the company out simply because there are 'no facilities'.  In true Carry On style, nobody escapes comedy stereotyping whether they are male or female.  I would like to say that we have now moved on....but there are still familiar elements to all this.

However, for me, there is one small scene that really shows how society has moved on for the better since Cabby was made in 1963.  And that is Sid's gift to Hattie of a fur coat.  She is overwhelmed and delighted, as back then, the fur coat was treasured as a status symbol.  Every woman was meant to desire one.  Look at photos of film stars and listen to songs from the 1950s for proof.  But now, of course, we regard real fur as barbaric and those who wear it to be emotionally incapable.  Even diamonds, which fur coats were on a par with are now only ok if their provenance has been verified.  Your box of chocolates really ought to be Fairtrade too - companies fall over themselves to assure us that no-one has lost out in the manufacture of your treat.  We have finally realised that as consumers, we have responsibilities.  We can laugh at Hattie and her fur coat as something old fashioned and obsolete.  I wonder if we'll ever laugh in the same way at a woman being given a job purely because of her (ahem) long legs?

This post is dedicated to the lady in my profile photograph, who we lost on 27th February.  It all began with her and our cup of tea in front of the fire, ready for the Saturday afternoon matinee on BBC2.  This blog is her legacy to me.

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