From TPLACs to “a necklace made of ears”

“You’ve got to be as hungry as a fucking Hutu in the fucking jungle with a big machete. You’ve got to go hacking through the fucking opposition, with a big fucking belt full of hands and a necklace made of ears. Can you do that? Can you wear a necklace made of ears?”

“I can be a Hutu. I can wear fucking finger-nail bracelets.”

Malcolm Tucker, the central character in the BBC’s The Thick of It, is not for the faint hearted. His insults are legendary, more than liberally full of swearing, and a major part of what’s made the series so popular.

And yes, the series really has just made a joke about the Rwandan genocide.

Political comedies are clearly not the place to go for anything politically correct, least of all The Thick of It. But perhaps for exactly that reason they can reveal something about popular perceptions. Or maybe just stereotypes.

Even the great Yes Minister wasn’t afraid to offend the political correctness police, more than 30 years ago.

From “tin-pot little African countries” to “a necklace made of ears”, it seems references to Africa in popular British comedy series are pretty negative: belittling, patronising and rude.

But still funny.

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For the record, here’s the full dialogue from the Thick of It scene posted above. Malcolm Tucker is testing the Leader of the Opposition, Nicola Murray, (who is technically his boss), to see how committed to the task she is.

Malcolm: “Do you believe in you? ‘Cause I can’t see any fucking fire in your eyes. I can’t even see the clicking of the pilot light to try and get a tiny little flame going. What I do see is that you might at any day decide Oh I’ve fucking had enough, and go off and get a blanket from the car.”

Nicola: “I slightly resent what you’re saying.”

Malcolm: “The fact of the matter is, I do not believe in my heart of hearts that you’re hungry for power.”

Nicola: “You’ve got no idea how hungry for power I am.”

Malcolm: “You have to really fucking want to do this.”

Nicola: “That’s what I’m telling you, I fucking want this. Shit, people can hear me. I am hungry for this, yes.”

Malcolm: “Well you’ve got to be as hungry as a fucking Hutu in the fucking jungle with a big machete. You’ve got to go hacking through the fucking opposition, with a big fucking belt full of hands and a necklace made of ears. Can you do that?”

Nicola: “Yes.”

Malcolm: “Can you wear a necklace made of ears?”

Nicola: “I can be a Hutu. I can wear fucking finger-nail bracelets. I can do this, Malcolm, Yes.”

Malcolm: “That’s what we need to see.”

Nicola: “Yeah, I promise you, I can deliver.”