Red Nose Day Was a Reminder that Old People Still Think Rap is Funny

From Hugh Grant's "Hotline Bling" dance to French and Saunders' markedly horrific "Shutdown" karaoke, Friday's telethon was a pretty uncomfortable watch.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB
March 27, 2017, 11:03am

It is the year 2017: our phones are also tellies, Wetherspoons does table service, and Rylan Clark is one of the most beloved celebrities in the UK. For all intents and purposes, we are in the future, and the minutiae – the everyday bits and pieces – of life in the future is Good.

But then obviously you have to think about the bigger picture, which, these days, always means Brexit and the gender/race pay gap and immigration and the prejudices that (mostly) older white people insist on enforcing on the rest of us. And this, this brings us to a very specific moment: French and Saunders, beloved comedy duo, doing their version of James Corden's Carpool Karaoke on Comic Relief, with erm, a "version" of Skepta's genre-defining grime track "Shutdown".


Yeah, cool I guess, that one of the most successful and popular genres in British music still isn't beyond mockery because old people think it's all a big joke. Though there's an argument to be made about French and Saunders being self-deprecating here – picking up on their own "uncoolness" – there's something about Jennifer Saunders' "street" get-up, her insistence on saying the word "bitch" over and over at the end and their inflection when rapping along, that feels as though not only they are the butt of the joke, but grime is itself.

This feels especially tasteless seeing as how Comic Relief largely raises money for black Africans – it's a double whammy of negative representation for black British children who might watch the programme, looking on the one hand at depoliticised money-raising using sad videos of children from across Africa then looking later as a black genre is turned into the butt of a stale and outdated joke. It's disappointing when elsewhere, the BBC has recently done so well at legitimising and recognising black music in the UK for the powerhouse it is. It just seems that as soon as received, "traditional" talent gets involved, we go back about 30 years.

Elsewhere, and to be real, a little more lightheartedly, Hugh Grant re-created his Love Actually "Jump" dance routine to Drake's "Hotline Bling":

Considering that the "Hotline Bling" video was a source of Drake-is-bad-at-dancing memes for months after its release, this feels a little more understandable (and not to mention actually funny), but there's still the feeling that "older white person dances to rap" is part of the joke here – it's just not funny anymore.

Watch all of Red Nose Day, if you're feeling up to it, here.

Follow Lauren on Twitter.

(Image via Metro)