Top of the mornin’ to ya on this, National Potato Day, definitely something worth celebrating. Sure, who doesn’t love the humble spud, begorrah?
We all do, of course, but not when it’s being used as a truly awful stereotype of what Irishness is all about, and that seems to happen on a fairly regular basis, unfortunately. We are known around the world for a few simple things: potatoes, fighting, and alcoholism, and there’s no doubting that TV shows and big Hollywood movies love to come over here and make fun of Paddy Irishman, in what can be a terribly offensive portrayal of us. We’re complicated people with real feelings, y’know?
Anyway, in light of the day that’s in it, we decided to look at a few times that Irish stereotypes have cropped up in movies and TV shows, including the beloved and revered potato, that show us to be nothing more than simple bog-dwelling, spud-munching, hard-fightin’ Paddy twats.
Even when the biggest band in the world appeared on to the biggest cartoon ever, The Simpsons, they couldn’t escape a little reference to the spud. ‘Potato man…’
The incredibly terrible Leprechaun 3 was part of a series of movies that was full of stereotypes (it was about Leprechauns, after all) but as the group tried to figure out how they could take down the mini-menace, the computer decided to offer a helpful tip and mention that potatoes are a leprechaun’s favourite meal. “ Like all good ol' Irishmen, he loves his spuds, but he'll take a bite out of anybody who threatens to steal his gold”. It really was a terrible movie.
Father Ted poked fun at the stereotype of the potato-loving Irish too, but in a different way, whilst also having a go at the Church.
Cartoons tend to come to Ireland fairly regularly, as it's much easier than actually bringing a live-action show all the way over here to film, and they've almost all visited our shores, each more terrible than the last. Peter Griffin returned to find his long-lost drunken father in Family Guy, in trusty Wifey McBeaty's tavern, and of course, we were found fightin’.
We couldn’t make the list without including Captain Planet’s unique take on The Troubles, which would be more offensive if it weren’t so stupid. The accents are so bad that they vary wildly from sentence to sentence, and verge on Jamaican at several points.
Even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turltes came over at one stage, learning about St. Patrick and facing such dangers as a "sheep stampede". That's the reason we barely made it to work alive this morning, sure.
Irish Jam was one of those movies that couldn't have sounded good on paper, and looked even worse when filmed. For some reason Anna Friel was in it too, in a tiny village that could only be saved if they kept the local pub out of the hands of the evil landowner.
There’s no doubting that Angela Lansbury is a legend, but even she couldn’t escape the lure of the Irish stereotype when she came to Ireland in a Murder She Wrote TV movie, 'The Celtic Riddle'.
We always thought Amy Adams was sound, but then the rather terrible Leap Year appeared and ticked almost every box on the stereotypes checklist. We're more of an Anna Kendrick fan now.
Then of course, there was Far and Away, featuring Tom Cruise’s Oirish accent.
There are plenty of other examples too, from the old Mission Impossible series that had an episode about a banshee terrorising a town, the many times fake Premier League team Harchester United travelled over (including to get star-striker Monday Bandele a fake passport) and countless others, all trotting out the same old tired clichés of the poor aul Paddy. Then again, we do like potatoes, just so long as they’re from our own soil…