Carry On Conferencing
09 February 1999
For immediate release
What would Freud have had to say about Barbara Windsorís serial inability to keep her chest covered? Was Carry On Up The Kybher really a satire on British Imperialism? Did the Carry On series put the 'camp' into Carry on Camping? All these questions and more will be answered in a Carry On conference, being hosted by Sussex academic Andy Medhurst.
The conference, due to take place on February 27, is part of the NFT's Carry On season and complements an exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image. Amanda Barrie, who stepped into Elizabeth Taylor's robes to play the lead in Carry On Cleo, is expected to appear as a speaker.
Andy Medhurst is hoping to avoid the tone of slavish devotion displayed by what he refers to as "Carry On Trekkies". He will instead be casting a critical eye on the series - as he is keen to stress: "The films are important and interesting, but they aren't perfect. Even the very good films have boring stretches. It is what they say about social history which makes them really interesting." As he points out, "Comedy is a good barometer - if you want to find out what a culture thinks about itself, look at what it laughs at."
Precisely because of their lack of pretension, the Carry On films allow a unique insight into attitudes towards sex and social status, as well as encapsulating something uniquely British. It may be tempting to make a psychoanalytic reading of the series, with its peculiarly infantile obsession with sex, but Andy Medhurst is keen to move away from the Freudian interpretation of comedy: "Most studies of comedy are concerned with the mechanics of humour rather than the social and historical context. The strength of these films is that by not setting out to make social points, the films make them more clearly. They end up being quite instructive because they bring into sharp focus attitudes we take for granted."
As Andy points out, "The Carry On films have never been surprising - they are more like a comfy old sofa than a modernist chair. But comedy depends on celebrating the familiar. And you always know what you are getting with a Carry On film - watching them is like the cinematic equivalent of eating fish and chips."
"You always know what you are getting with a Carry On film - watching them is like the cinematic equivalent of eating fish and chips."
"Ten years ago you couldn't get anyone interested in these films. Now they have become a 'cult' commodity - everyone is running around saying they are the best thing that's ever been made." says Andy. The conference is an attempt to recapture the series from its cult groupies and cast a critical eye on the social and cultural role of the films. Andy Medhurst is leading the series on a cultural and educational journey of their own as they Carry On.... Into The Annals of Academia.
For further information please contact Sally Hall, Information Office, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 678335, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Andy Medhurst, School of Cultural and Community Studies, Tel. 01273 606 755 ext 2560.