PAEDOPHILIA

So, here’s a question. Lines such as these:

LISTER: Lolita. Is it OK if I burn Lolita?
RIMMER: Save page sixty-one… that bit.
LISTER: That’s disgusting. [Tears page off and keeps it.]

RIMMER: You only play Wimbledon cos you’re having it off with that jailbait ball girl.
LISTER: Is another total lie. She’s not jailbait, she’s seventeen.

Would these lines still make it into Red Dwarf if it was being written today?

Now, stuff about paedophilia isn’t exempt from comedy now, obviously – but it tends to more the edgier kind. For better or for worse – or, rather, for better and for worse, depending on the proportion of the reaction – people are rather more sensitive about the subject these days. Red Dwarf isn’t an edgy show in that way, and nor was it ever meant to be.

It’s not that I object to either piece of material – I’m just interested if it would have been included today. Although now I actually think about it, saving a page of Lolita to have a wank over – and let’s not forget that in the book the girl is 12, not 14 as in Kubrick’s film – does seem rather dodgy…

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34 Responses to PAEDOPHILIA

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  1. >in the book the girl is 12

    Fair enough, but there are other sexual encounters in the book, and plenty of general sexual fantasizing, so it’s not necessarily a scene involving Dolores. I remember checking after seeing this episode for the first time and there’s no sexuality at all on page 61 of my edition, so I can’t say for sure, but I think that, in any edition, page 61 is going to be too early for Dolores and Humbert to actually be getting it on; that happens well into the story, after he marries her mother, and she gets killed, and he runs off with the girl.

    The odds of Grant/Naylor referring to a specific sexual act in the book is pretty unlikely, I admit…they probably chose Lolita just because it’s a famously “dirty” book. (Which it really isn’t, if you read it. The text it determinedly dense in order to dispell, to my mind, any accidental “understanding” of Humbert’s obsession.)

    On American TV today, you’d certainly get away with it. It’s a literary joke, after all, even if the reference is vague. And damned if Family Guy doesn’t get away with pedophilia gags (if that’s even what this was meant to be) far more overtly.

  2. This is a bit high-brow, isn’t it?

  3. G&T Admin

    The odds of Grant/Naylor referring to a specific sexual act in the book is pretty unlikely, I admit?they probably chose Lolita just because it?s a famously ?dirty? book. (Which it really isn?t, if you read it. The text it determinedly dense in order to dispell, to my mind, any accidental ?understanding? of Humbert?s obsession.)

    Yes, you’re probably right. It’s easily misconstrued, though!

    Still… would they have made the same reference today? Or would they just have picked a different book? Mind you, I can’t think of another book that would actually work with the joke – there’s something about the rhythm that makes it funny.

    On American TV today, you?d certainly get away with it. It?s a literary joke, after all, even if the reference is vague. And damned if Family Guy doesn?t get away with pedophilia gags (if that?s even what this was meant to be) far more overtly.

    But then, Family Guy is famous for its “offensive” humour – it’s part of the deal when you watch it. Red Dwarf was never like that.

    Maybe I’m making too much of the issue, but they do feel like throwaway gags that I wonder whether they’d think twice about now.

  4. >But then, Family Guy is famous for its ?offensive? humour – it?s part of the deal when you watch it. Red Dwarf was never like that.

    Sorry, I misinterpreted your question. I thought you were asking if the same joke would HAPPEN today, not if the same joke would be written by Rob and Doug today. There’s a difference and maybe I should have read more carefully.

    I don’t think it’s unlikely they’d use the same joke. It’s a name-drop more than anything, and a fairly smart cultural reference. It probably pokes more fun at the perception of Lolita than it does at Rimmer and Lister (which is why it doesn’t matter what is or isn’t on page 61…culturally speaking, it’s all filthy!).

    Still, it’s a valid point of discussion, but I doubt Rob and Doug would think about it the way we are now. They’d probably come up with the joke, laugh at it, write it, and move on. I’m not sure how much they’d go back and reconsider gags for any reason except for the fact that they weren’t working.

    Anyone else who knows better is welcome to correct me on any of that.

  5. > Mind you, I can?t think of another book that would actually work with the joke – there?s something about the rhythm that makes it funny.

    Not sure what kind of rhythm you mean. But “O” is used as a “filthy reference” sometimes, and I think the Marquis de Sade, too.

    I remember finding the mentioning of Lolita odd when I first saw the scene (which was in 2004, so not that far back).

  6. G&T Admin

    I think “Lolita” just sounds like a funny word.

    In this context. Not in the dark corners of the internet…

  7. The Lolita one never bothered me.

    The Ball girl one is more interesting, How old is Lister by that point, 27-8? It’s not uncommon for girl in there late teen to date, or want to date older men, When I was 20 I went with a man who was 30, the age gap is about the same.

    As Lister points out, she is, By UK law past the age of consent, 16.

    I think it’s more Rimmers reaction to it, ‘Oh look at you with a girl too young for you’, Which in itself is odd as Rimmer would probably consider 17 the right mental age for a potential Lister partner. Ok, Maybe I’m starting to over think this.
    Perhaps, Rimmer had tried the same program and the girl rejected him. The Fool! ;)

    To Place a different spin on it, I was listening to the commentary for ‘Arc of infinity’ recently.
    In that story there is a scene where the recently escaped Omega, who at this point in the story is being played by Peter Davison, Stands in front in front of a puppet show and watches it for a while. A Boy of around 10-12 pushes in front of him and Omega Looks down at the boy and smiles, the boy smiles back and they both watch the show before Omega leaves again.
    As The scene approached Peter himself said and I Paraphrase ” No this bit coming up here, just watch” *Smiles exchanged* “You wouldn’t get away with that now, which is kind of a shame.” The others agree with him.

    Sorry that went Rambly.

    Bottom line, Yes children should be protected and things that seem to encourage Peado behaviour should not be aloud, but at the same time, lets not get silly, If a joke is funny, or a moment is just a moment then Let it be.

    Phe

  8. G&T Admin

    >Dog?s Dwarf

    Does Andrew know something we don’t?

  9. I always saw the jailbait line as one of the American-influenced language choices in Series VI. (“Dump of the day”, “Sneakers in the ice box”.) As much about the rhythm as the meaning. As Phe points out, from a UK perspective she’s legal. For America, it’s more complicated…but when you’re in the far-future, in space, who the hell knows which laws are left?

    I think a Rob and Doug show would still use the reference today, albeit with more discussion first. I don’t think Doug’s Dwarf would go there. Either way, I think it’s just a gag about a supposedly-naughty book. But it needed to also be a ‘classic’ for the joke to function. (“Is it okay if I burn Jilly Cooper’s Riders?” doesn’t work.)

  10. I HAVE EDITED MY REPLY AND NOW TANYA SEEMS STRANGE! YES! FEAR ME! I WILL BREAK THE INTERNET!

    *goes off to type ‘google’ into Google*

  11. I’m not so sure they would use the Lolita reference now, not that it’s illegal to own a copy of the book or watch the movie of course.
    I think a lot of people may think twice about using a reference of this kind simply because of fairly recent high profile events. I’m sure this was used as a reference to a well known book, percieved as ‘naughty’, rather than a pointer to the tendancies of Lister and Rimmer, but would a writer today want to risk tarnishing a character when other choices are available..
    The other question is, would the cast be willing to use these lines now?

    The ‘jailbait’ line, I guess, redeems itself with the ’17’ tag.

    I suppose it’s a tad odd that we can question these lines now having laughed at them then and probably now and they’re not the only examples.
    I think we can say the above examples are not illegal whereas Listers experience in a golf bunker certainly was.

  12. >the above examples are not illegal whereas Listers experience in a golf bunker certainly was.

    Good point, and definitely an illustration of how deep-seeded the double standard is. Imagine if Kochanski had been the one to say she lost her virginity at 12.

    Very different impact.

  13. G&T Admin

    The jailbait line *does* seem a bit odd, although I never noticed it at the time – mainly because it doesn’t really seem to have that much of a point to it. Although I suppose you could say that of a lot of lines taken on their own and analysed like that.

    I think we can say the above examples are not illegal whereas Listers experience in a golf bunker certainly was.

    Now, I *nearly* mentioned this in the article – but cut it because it’s a slightly different area. And I don’t think underage sex is as taboo a subject as paedophilia, as long as both parties are of a similar age. And it’s in-character, too – Lister bloody WOULD have had sex at 12!

    It’s notable that it was the underage sex stuff that caused the original VHS to have a 15 certificate, and that the jailbait ball girl line was cut from a showing of Gunmen when Craig was awaiting trial, ao it’s fair to say this material has caused them problems in the past!

    Again, I hasten to add that none of it bothers or offends me. I just find the subject interesting.

  14. G&T Admin

    Good point, and definitely an illustration of how deep-seeded the double standard is. Imagine if Kochanski had been the one to say she lost her virginity at 12.

    Very different impact.

    That’s a good point.

    Although it’s not really in-character for Kochanski, in as much as what we *know* about her character – which is why I think it would jolt people. If she was portrayed as being slightly wild, then it would be less of an issue… although even then, I agree, it would probably be more controversial.

  15. >it?s not really in-character for Kochanski, in as much as what we *know* about her character

    Absolutely 100% correct. And I agree with you that Lister WOULD have had sex at 12, which in itself is important to keep in mind with the line: it works from a character standpoint, no matter what you may or may not think of the content.

    But, for the purposes of simplification, the comparison does raise a good point…and obviously I only chose Kochanski because she’s the only “regular” female on the show.

    Certainly though, Lister having sex at 12 says one thing about his character, while a female having sex at 12 would–at least as far as general perceptions are concerned–say something very different. The impact one has would be entirely independent of the other, and that’s the double-standard at work.

  16. Yes, it’s certainly more to to with ‘ladish’ behaviour than anything else..

    Lister would ogle 17 year old girls, would read smutty material (smutty in his mind) and boast about losing his virginity. I dare say many blokes would be the same. It’s not exactly corupting anyone is it.

    I still feel though that people tend to think beyond what they used to 10/15 years ago in speech and writing. These days in only takes one twat to mis-read someones intentions and label someone a pervert or a paedophile and the press have a field day.

  17. >I think we can say the above examples are not illegal whereas Listers experience in a golf bunker certainly was.

    I’m not sure about English law but when two underage people have sex in Australia it’s perfectly legal.

    I’m sure that paedophilia jokes would be turned down by Charles himself if he saw them in a script now…

  18. G&T Admin

    I?m not sure about English law but when two underage people have sex in Australia it?s perfectly legal.

    It’s illegal in the UK, but things are generally flexible, and take into consideration various circumstances. Not much is going to happen if two fifteen year olds have sex, for instance, but a fifteen year old and a twelve year old is going to be more of an issue.

  19. G&T Admin

    My favourite bit of law is that an 18-year-old man and a 17-year-old woman can have sex, but if they take photos of themselves doing so, he is creating child pornography, and is a sex offender.

  20. Hey pae, remember the good old days? Back on the farm?

  21. Well, if there’s grass on the pitch…you could really do with a Hollywood.

    Btw love the headline, John. That’s not gonna get attention at all…

  22. G&T Admin

    ” *Page 61 Removed for personal reasons… “

  23. I’ve been re-reading Pale Fire (along with an excellent book of criticism about it) recently so I’m in a kind of Nabokov mood. I figured I’d pull out my copy of Lolita and, tongue-in-cheek, post here the “sexiest” line from the page.

    Which I assumed wouldn’t be sexy at all.

    But, Lo and behold, it’s actually a fairly erotic scene for its placement in the book! Dolores is sitting in the lap of her step-father (the narrator) and writhing around while she teases him and eats a piece of fruit. That’s basically the content of the whole page.

    The event does actually come to something, but, in this edition anyway, page 61 abruptly abandons Humbert in a tremendous state of unfulfilled arousal. Interesting!

    I remember checking years ago and not finding anything erotic on page 61, but it was likely not this same edition, which I bought to replace my old paperback at some indeterminate point in the past.

  24. I was re-reading Lolita for research (ACTUAL CRITICAL RESEARCH) and wondered about this very topic…not realizing that we’d already had the discussion seven years ago. In fact, I only found this article because I was googling around for the exact “page 61” exchange.

    I think the question I would raise now, at this point in time, is less to do with whether or not it would make it into a current-day episode of Red Dwarf…but more along the lines of how the audience would respond if it did.

    With all of the concerns many of us (though by no means all) had with X…topical concerns rather than quality concerns…would we have laughed at the Lolita bit and moved on? Or would we have been horrified?

    In terms of reception, would there have been any difference at all if the exact same joke (same lines, same performance) had landed in X instead of III?

    I’m curious. With stuff like Taiwan Tony, slag, the deaths of Howard and Irene, and so on, I’m inclined to think that the very idea of the joke would come under fire today, taking priority over whether or not anyone found it funny.

    I don’t know why the Lolita joke doesn’t bother me like the other stuff does. Maybe it’s because it’s in Marooned, which I’m enjoying and therefore not picking at. Or maybe it’s just a better joke in some way that I can’t actually articulate.

    But are we giving the content of III a pass in the way that we aren’t giving the content of X?

    I wonder.

  25. Interesting. I don’t remember this discussion.

    I must have been about 12 (coincidentally, enough) when I first saw Marooned. I’d never heard of Lolita and I doubt I was particularly aware of what paedophilia was at that time. I understood that joke simply as two perverted men reading a naughty book. This was amusing and made me laugh.

    I’ll further show my naivety by saying that, even with a knowledge of what the book is about (although I’ve never read it nor seen an adaptation), I really didn’t make the connection that they were perving over the description of a 12 year old girl. I don’t actually remember when I last watched Marooned, but I’ve clearly been dim on this on at least a few rewatches.

    Certainly, the more you analyse that bit, the more disturbing and unfunny it becomes.Which is probably why the vagueness of it works incredibly well. I always assumed they’d plucked the page number out of the air and am hoping that the fact that page 61 truly is particularly mucky is a complete coincidence.

    I think I’ve given this is a pass, though, not explicitly because it’s Marooned and thus shits all over X….but:

    a) because it’s vague and relies on the audience to imagine exactly what’s on page 61, irrespective of whether they know what Lolita is about, or its content beyond its reputation as a sexually explicit novel.

    b) because I first saw Marooned when I was young and naively found that bit amusing many, many times. And now I find it difficult to distance myself from the humour that I once derived from it. I’m not sure how I’ll fare on my next rewatch.

    c) because, for some reason, joking about this was more acceptable in the eighties?

    I’m finding it hard to justify c) by the way as I’m not even sure that’s true. Certainly the media exposure of paedophilia seems more pronounced now…but this doesn’t really change the viewing of the joke. I find the Brass Eye special while others would declare that it’s not a fit subject for humour, not seeing that the show wasn’t about paedophillia itself. But this Lolita joke…well, it’s not nearly as complex.

    It would certainly be less problematic if they’d chosen something like Lady Chatterly’s Lover instead. And I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have found Taiwan Tony funny when I was 12. And I would have moaned about “slag” and the casual indifference to the deaths of Irene and Howard because that’s not vague or oblique.

    Oh I don’t fucking know. It’s complicated.

  26. G&T Admin

    Today, they could have just swapped Lolita for 50 Shades. Problem solved.

  27. I understood that joke simply as two perverted men reading a naughty book. This was amusing and made me laugh.

    Ditto.

  28. Even if there was something sexual on page 61 (I’m taking your word for it, mind), would tearing out the page not take it out of context as well?

    Today, they could have just swapped Lolita for 50 Shades. Problem solved.

    “Is it okay if I burn Fifty Shades of Grey?”
    “Yes.”

  29. The character of Taiwan Tony was a disgrace.
    The use of Lolita is a bit less black and white. (Ho ho!) Presumably Lister doesn’t know the girl is only 12. Unless it’s mentioned in the particular paragraph… So his character can be forgiven.
    When did Rimmer read it? He could have read it aged ten… Which *kind of* vindicates him. I saw Leon when I was younger than Natalie Portman so will always have a nice memory of seeing her in that film. Sexual awakenings and all that. Though whether I’d feel the same if I saw it now is not even up for question. She was a child.
    Had Rob and Doug even read it? Or just seen the film?
    And yes. It’s a classic dirty book. The Delta of Venus perhaps isn’t as well known… The 120 Days of Sodom – well, imagine saving just one part of that. You’d have to be a proper pervert.
    They were lonely men. I think if it was me I’d have chosen a more innocuous sexual reference and had them equally priapic at it.
    But then I’m not a comedy writer.
    I’m a nothing.

  30. “My favourite bit of law is that an 18-year-old man and a 17-year-old woman can have sex, but if they take photos of themselves doing so, he is creating child pornography, and is a sex offender.”

    Re-read this topic with the benefit of a few more years’ experience. I now work in sexual health and have received training relating to this very issue. A lot of cases of sexual activity between 16-17 come under the Fraser Guidelines, and it’s all to do with competency. Under-18’s (even 16 and 17) cannot view or participate in pornography as it is classed as ‘adult entertainment’ and you’re not officially seen as an adult until you’re 18. Sex and the law is mind-bogglingly complicated. 16 and 17 is legal but it creates a huge grey area.

  31. As an alternative point of view, I don’t work in sexual health. But I have done it. With a lady.
    The legal age of consent varies massively from country to country too, doesn’t it. Isn’t it 14 in Italy or something mad like that?
    Unbefuckinglievable.

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