The Full Degeneracy

As I’ve mentioned before, I have become increasingly conscious of just how inappropriate much media is. This usually happens when I re-watch something I saw when I was young and notice a lot of things I thankfully didn’t notice as a child. Two good recent examples are Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Back to the Future. The former I found shockingly crude and completely inappropriate for children but that is exactly who it was marketed to. The latter wasn’t necessarily marketed to children but it is generally considered a family film and includes coarse (and blasphemous) language as well as sexual innuendo. The interactions between Marty and his teenage mother in particular should be considered more disturbing than they generally are.

There is an increasing collective consciousness of just how degenerate the world has become. This is often mistaken for the immediate present as if all this has only suddenly happened. Some people act as if sodomy and especially transvestitism only began getting heavily promoted a decade ago. In reality, it has been in front of us for a long time as I noted with the 1990s comedy Mrs. Doubtfire. The absurd comic premise covers the darker intentions of the filmmakers — and they absolutely knew what they were doing. Even then, there were far more obvious films such as The Crying Game (which I’ve not seen and never will), and Boys Don’t Cry which were far more explicit in their intentions.

The subject of this post is The Full Monty a British film from 1997 which is many degrees worse than the examples I’ve already mentioned. So much so that it is amazing to me now that adults of the time so easily overlooked all this. I did see this film multiple times when I was a teenager but even if I hadn’t, it was advertised on prime time television and the premise was not hard to guess for the casual viewer.  

First, before I get to what makes this film particularly bad, it is necessary to make what should be obvious explicit. This is about a group of men who plan and practice for a strip show — that is taking off all your clothes in public. The film’s title is a British colloquialism for ‘going all the way’. It feels strange to have to explain this so carefully but this is immoral behaviour in any context. Strippers of any stripe are living immoral lives. To the extent that it is less evil than prostitution (and both these occupations have significant crossover), it still leads to the same place in the end. This is hard to make clear to people who have got used to it but it remains true that morally sane parents wouldn’t be pleased if their son or daughter got into this line of work whether or not they were otherwise indifferent.

I have not seen this film for a long time but for a basic synopsis: it concerns a group of out of work British steel workers who decide to put on a strip show to earn money. This is the brainchild of Gaz (played by Robert Carlyle), after seeing an advertisement for “professional” male strippers. The conceit in all of this is the sympathy the audience has for out of work men and especially for an out of work father. This is similar to Mrs. Doubtfire in its combination of comedic absurdity and the natural sympathy one has for a struggling father.

This overlooks the many other possibilities for a more regular income that would be available to Gaz and the other men. Assuming they were even successful in this enterprise, it is hardly something that is likely to provide a stable income. I am reminded to of the television show Breaking Bad which came much later. This show had chemistry teacher Walter White diagnosed with cancer and unable to afford the treatment. The solution? Start producing and dealing methamphetamines. An extreme solution to an extreme situation that hides behind a very thin veneer of ‘social commentary’. In reality, neither Gaz nor Walter actually need to go to the extreme lengths they do to solve their problems as there are always alternatives. The writers don’t want the audience to realise this though. I will add that I didn’t watch past the first season, I believe Breaking Bad at least did have a darker turn for the protagonist. 

The Full Monty‘s premise is bad enough but the actual film is worse and as a reminder: it was released in 1997. As mentioned, Gaz is a father who has a young son named Nathan who he shares custody with his ex-wife. When Gaz decides to become a stripper with his friend Dave, his son is with him. He is with him when they are recruiting other out of work men to join. He is there when they audition — by stripping. He is there when they begin practicing. So a young boy is watching a group of men take of their clothes and dance and his father has directly put him in this situation. Gaz even uses his son’s savings for a deposit to secure the club for their show. 

Now the film is not completely blind to how bad this is and at one stage, they do get in trouble with the police but in the end they all do come together at the club — with his son not only present but encouraging him to get on the stage for the “show”. Two of the men involved are also revealed to be sodomites during their escape from the police. 

This all should horrify anyone who even somewhat holds to traditional morality but this was a popular film and lots of people saw it and even imitated it. Many of the actors have had successful film careers thanks to its popularity. Some years later a film called Calendar Girls was released about a group of old women posing naked for a calendar. There was also Billy Elliot about a boy who wants to be a ballet dancer against the wishes of his parents. To be clear, being a male ballet dancer actually requires considerable skill and strength but this reality is just cover for promoting sodomy among the young. I’ve not seen either of latter two movies but reading a plot summary gives all the information you need. 

There will be plenty of people who don’t understand what my problem is with this film or any of the others mentioned. However, I think I could make it clear with a simple question: Do you think it is appropriate for a group of grown men to strip naked in front of a young boy? If the answer is anything but a firm “no”, then I certainly wouldn’t want to let you near any children of my acquaintance. But I expect most people would answer in the negative and if they did, they should immediately be able to see what is so wrong with the film even if they don’t have a problem with the premise.

The Full Monty has since become both a musical and a play and in the course of writing this, I learned it has returned as a TV series just this year. Anyone who wonders how quickly our society appears to have degenerated could start by looking how well-received a film like this was in 1997 when sodomy was still illegal in many parts of the world. The rot of course goes back much further but this film was one of many wicked milestones on the road that led to where we are today.

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