Thursday, May 23, 2019

Political Shake Up

Who would have thought that a milkshake being thrown over a neo fascist could be condemned as being on a par with a terror attack?  But that's what some people would have you believe after a recent spate of such incidents over the past couple of weeks.  The recipients of these hurled milk products have been extreme right-wing Brexiteers from UKIP and the Brexit Party.  It was becoming so frequent that police forces were trying to ban the sales of milk shakes in areas where  candidates from these parties were campaigning in the European elections.  It all culminated with the abominable Nigel Farage - a recent victim of a milk shake dousing - apparently refusing to leave his campaign bus until a group of students clutching milk shakes were dispersed.  It's astounding how much media comment these incidents have generated.  Even more astounding is the vehemence with which the milk shake throwers have been condemned in some quarters.  Farage, for instance, described his 'attacker' as 'radicalised', clearly trying to draw a comparison with Isis terrorists.  Plenty of other, generally pompous, politicians and commentators have similarly weighed in, trying to tell ua that throwing milk shakes over politicians somehow heralds the end of democracy.  Some have even, bizarrely, tried to draw parallels with the murder of Jo Cox, contending that throwing milk shakes encourages violent attacks against politicians.

The fact is , though, that hurling a milk shake over a politician is, generally speaking, pretty funny.  It is also pretty harmless and part of a long tradition in the UK of throwing stuff at politicians,  In recent years the egg has become favoured.  Now, I have grave reservations about throwing eggs at people - they can actually do some damage, especially if hard boiled.  In the seventies the tomato was the favoured projectile for throwing at politicians.  It is pretty much ideal: soft enough that it won't do any damage to the person, but satisfyingly explodes on impact. leaving a livid red 'splat' and hard to remove stains.  Obviously, the level of humour to be derived from throwing anything at or over a politician is very much dependent, not just upon one's political sympathies, but also their character.  Let's face it, seeing someone as pompous (not to mention unpleasant) as Farage spattered with milk shake is hilarious - it totally destroys the aura of gravitas he is trying to project.  Smashing an egg on Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand, just doesn't seem as funny, looking, as it does, too much like an assault on a pensioner.  (Pelting him with tomatoes from his own allotment, however, would be hysterically funny).  The idea that throwing stuff at politicians could lead to actual violence is pretty ludicrous.  Violent attacks on politicians is generally the result of an atmosphere of hatred and contempt engendered by the violent rhetoric of right wing rabble rousers. Let's not forget that Farage hinself frequently invokes violent imagery, with his references to taking up arms if Brexit isn't delivered, or raising the spectre of civil unrest if judges don't rule in his favour.  So, he should think himself lucky that his opponents confine themselves to throwing harmless milk-based beverages at him, rather than punches.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Return of Doctor X (1939)


An early example of a 'sequel in mane only', The Return of Dr X's title was clearly meant to give audiences the impression that it was a sequel to a previous Warner horror hit, 1932's Dr X.  Except, of course, that it isn't.  It is, however, thematically linked to the earlier film, featuring a series of murders being carried out by a mad scientist and investigated by a plucky reporter.  This time around the Dr X of the title is played by none other than Humphrey Bogart in his only horror role.  Bogart apparently hated the film and rarely spoke about it.  There's no doubt that it was the sort of role you's expect to see played by Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi.  In fact, it's the sort of film you'd expect to have been produced by Universal or Monogram, rather than Warner Brothers, a studio which wasn't noted for its horror output. But hey, in 1939 a new horror movie cycle was kicking off, led by the likes of Universal's Son of Frankenstein and Warner's obviously wanted a piece of the action.  As for Bogart's presence, well, it was still the days of the studio system and was a Warner contract player and, most importantly, hadn't yet achieved full star status - the films which established him as a top star who could headline a movie - The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca - were still a couple of years in the future, (he only has third billing here).

Nonetheless, it is still strange to see an actor more associated with 'realistic' roles as gangsters and the like, playing a pasty faced murderous scientist who has been raised from the dead (he was executed for murder) by a colleague, using 'synthetic blood'.  (Another thematic link with Dr X: there the mas scientist was using 'synthetic flesh' to fashion a new arm with which to strangle his victims).  Of course, as is always the case with such innovations, the synthetic blood's effects are only temporary and Bogart has to keep giving himself transfusions of real blood. Real blood of a very rare type, his craving for which inevitably leaves a trail of victims.  Despite being firmly out of his comfort zone, Bogart still delivers a suitable creepy and menacing performance in the title role.  Of course, being a Warner production, The Return of Dr X's climax wouldn't look out of place in one of their crime movies, featuring Bogart shooting it out with the authorities.  In addition to Bogart's presence the film is also notable for being Vincent Sherman's directorial debut.  Sherman would go on to direst several Bogart-starring vehicles during the war as well as several notable film noirs, including Nora Prentiss and The Garment Jungle.  Rarely seen on UK TV, (although I do vaguely recall it forming part of one of BBC 2's regular Saturday night Horror Double Bills in the eighties), The Return of Dr X represents an interesting and unusual footnote to Bogart's career.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Monster Contest

So, another couple of annual cultural highlights have come and gone for another year.  I speak, of course, of the FA Cup and Eurovision Song Contest.  I can't remember the last time I watched either, let alone felt remotely interested in either of them.  OK, I can't deny that if Spurs were in an FA Cup final, I would watch it, but what was once the highlight of the English football season has lost so much of its allure.  I remember when it was a TV event, with several hours of dedicated programming leading up to a three o'clock kick off.  I couldn't even tell you when it kicks off now.  But enough of football, what of Euorvision, that once joyous event which has now turned into an annual humiliation for the UK?  It's just become a bore, forever threatening to drown its own camp.  This year I decided instead to watch the most recent Godzilla film which was showing on ITV.  Watching a giant lizard going several rounds with a couple of other monsters, demolishing large parts of San Francisco in the process was far more entertaining than sitting through several hours of bad songs. 

It did occur to me, while watching Godzilla, that here was a possible solution to the UK's guaranteed poor performances at Eurovision: harnessing the power of Godzilla.  Not that it has to be Godzilla - any huge and terrifying monster would do, although the ability to breath fire would be a distinct advantage.  Anyway, getting back to the point, what we need to do in future is to find some kind of huge monster, (if I'm to believe the many monster movies I've seen, they are frequently turning up frozen in blocks of ice, or awakened from the ocean's depths by nuclear tests, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find one), and have it on stand by during the voting on Eurovision.  As soon as anyone gives you 'zero points', just send the beast around to incinerate their capital city - subsequent national juries, seeing that, will definitely re-think their votes.  Such scenes of destruction should also focus the minds of those participating in the public vote.  I know this sounds a drastic solution, but either its this, or we have to sop entering such shitty songs.  As that isn't likely to happen any time soon, I'm afraid we'll just have to start looking for a suitable monster to recruit.  I mean, how difficult could that be?  With the polar ice caps melting thanks to climate change, there should be all sorts of these creatures thawing out over the next few years...

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Munster, Go Home! (1966)


Yeah, I know, Munster, Go Home! isn't the usual sort of thing I discuss here.  But this film spin off of the sixties series represents my earliest recollection of The Munsters.  It must have been somewhen in the early seventies when I saw it on TV.  Interestingly, I have no memory of having seen the TV series prior to this, although it had been shown on TV here.  (I do recall seeing the rival Addams Family TV series, though).  In truth, Munster, Go Home! isn't a terribly good film - it was made after the cancellation of the TV series, primarily for overseas release in order to drive sales of the series to foreign markets by familiarising audiences with the characters.  However, while not a particularly good film, a second viewing of it (nearly fifty years after the first) has revealed that it actually isn't an especially bad film, either.  Indeed, I'm prepared to admit that I did laugh a couple of times while watching it again.

In common with many feature film adaptations of TV sitcoms, it does feel somewhat episodic, its plot moving jerkily toward a conclusion, with many scenes clearly included simply to pad it out to feature length.  Also in common with other sitcom adaptations, it chooses to take its familiar characters out of their usual milieu - in the case, an unexpected inheritance on Herman's part takes the family to England to claim both a title and a stately home.  I say 'England', but, in reality, they never leave California, with the whole film being shot on and around the Universal backlot.  As Austin Powers once observed, it is amazing how much like southern California England looks.  This, for UK viewers at least, produces some mildly hilarious results - the local town is clearly the 'Middle European' village set used in many of Universal's classic monster movies. Which is rather apt, as The Munsters, of course, were parodies of the classic monsters.  Other incongruous elements are the US telephone ring tones, the fact most of the cars are left hand drive, Robert Pines' English accent and some of the 'English' costumes, which appear to have wandered in from the nineteenth century.

The film takes an age to get to 'England' though, padding out proceedings with an Atlantic crossing on the SS United States, during which we go through various comic antics centered around the reactions of various passengers and crew to Herman's appearance.  Grandpa also succeed in accidentally turning himself into a wolf, which results in him being caged up in the ship's livestock hold and facing the prospect of six months quarantine in England.  In possibly the film's best gag, (and, interestingly, one of the few I clearly remembered from my first viewing), he is smuggled through British customs draped around Lily Munster's neck, pretending to be a fur, (and almost giving himself away by biting another passenger).  Upon arriving in England, the plot is driven by their villainous cousins' attempts to scare them off and eventually kill them, in order to protect the counterfeiting operation they are running from the ancestral home.  These culminate with a car race during which Herman drives the 'Dragula' as a rival tries to run him off of the road.  This is probably the best set-piece of the film and is well-staged (even though, as was common at the time, lots of unconvincing back projection is used for close ups).

The guest cast are quite impressive, headed up by Hermione Gingold and Terry-Thomas as two of the British cousins and John Carradine as their butler.  It has to be said, though, that while they give energetic performances, their hearts don't really seem to be in it.  Terry-Thomas, in particular, looks uncomfortable and seems out of place, the script really not allowing him to exploit his usual caddish characterisation to its full extent.  Also present are resident Brits in Hollywood Richard Dawson (Hogan's Heroes) and serial Doctor Watson impersonator Bernard Fox.  One time radio Sherlock Holmes Ben Wright also turns up as the shifty seeming local publican, (although he turns out to be a red herring).   Obviously, though, one's enjoyment of the film rests upon the performances of the regulars, all but one of whom are present, (for some reason Universal contract artist Debbie Watson replaces Pat Priest from the TV series as Marilyn Munster), in particular Fred Gwynne as Herman.  I have to say that I've always admired Gwynne's performance in the role.  While several actors have subsequently played Herman, none have succeeded in recapturing his joyous interpretation of the buffoonish but likeable man-child monster.  He brings such enormous charm from the character, both in his delivery of the (usually corny) gags and his physical performance.  His interplay with Al Lewis' Grandpa are always a highlight.  Sure, all of the leads give very broadly comedic performances, but for this kind of material, that is precisely what is required. 

In the final analysis, while Munster, Go Home! is, in reality, little more than an expanded episode of the TV series (with the added novelty of colour) and, in terms of production values, never rises above te level of a TV movie, it is still reasonably entertaining.  In fact, I confess to having been surprised at just how much I enjoyed it o re-watching it as an adult.  While films enjoyed in childhood are often revealed, upon watching again as an adult, to be quite terrible, the opposite was, for me, the case with Munster, Go Home!  It's still no masterpiece, but turned out to be an enjoyably spent ninety six minutes of late night, post pub, viewing.

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Unreal Ales

Beer - what's not to like about it?  It's far more down to earth than wine - none of the pretensions one associates with the latter.  Moreover, it doesn't have the same sort of alcoholic stigma as some spirits - you know what I mean, the way things like vodka and cheap Scotch are forever associated with red-nosed, emaciated alcoholics drinking themselves to death in between wheezing on their fags.  So, beer.  A good honest drink we can all enjoy, (even if you are teetotal - there are some pretty decent non-alcoholic beers out there), or so you'd think.  But you'd be wrong.  There is plenty of snobbery in the world of beer.  If you don't drink so called 'Real Ales' then, by God, you are a peasant with no sense of taste.  And I'm not just referring here to those who drink lager, (they're just common or garden hooligans).  Oh no, if you have the audacity to drink something brewed by one of the big breweries, then you are beyond the pale in the world of beer.  According to the likes of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the self-appointed guardians of our beer-drinking heritage, that is.  You know, I've never had much time for them and their pretentious views of what is and isn't beer, but of late I've grown even more dismissive of them.  Largely as a result of having read the local branch's Facebook page, where opinions of the type I've outlined get expressed.

Now, the reason I've been looking at said Facebook page is part of my attempts to find out if anyone knows what is going on with regard to my (still closed) local pub.  After all, aren't CAMRA meant to be the guardians of our traditional pub culture?  Well, while the closure has been mentioned and some vague intimations of some kind of unspecified action maybe being taken at some equally unspecified point in the future, it is clear that they really aren't interested.  It simply isn't the 'right' sort of pub.  It seems plain, based on what I've read, is that they are far more interested in visiting twee little country pubs serving beers with 'amusing' names and taste like they've been filtered through a sweaty jock strap.  Oh, and it has to have been brewed in some obscure micro-brewery.  Indeed, I can't help but feel that their ideal brewer would be one set up in a converted public lavatory - Shit House Brewery, perhaps - bottling raw sewage and presenting it as a 'unique experience'.  You can imagine their top beers: Stencher's Pride, a thick, dark brown brew, so thick, in fact, that it has lumps in it, with a distinctive aroma guaranteed to attract flies.  Or Old Dougie's Best Shitter, a lighter brew named for a local 'character' who regularly frequented the premises when they were still a toilet,always leaving his distinctive 'calling card' in the bowl of his favourite stall.  In fact, it is brewed in that very toilet bowl.  Then there could be Golden Skidder, strained through several pairs of soiled underpants for that unique flavour.  Yep, just the sort of things the CAMRA crowd would be all over...

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Curucu, Beast of the Amazon (1956)


Another of those obscure B-movies which seems to have vanished into the mists of time, this trailer is about all of you are likely to see of Curucu - Beast of the Amazon these days.  Never released on VHS or DVD, this cheapjack horror/jungle adventure movie seems simply to have vanished. Certainly, I don't ever recall it turning up on UK TV.  Apart from an eye-catching title which wouldn't have disgraced the pages of a contemporary men's magazine, the film has a few other points of interest.  For one thing, it was written and directed by Curt Siodmak who, in the forties had written several of the classic Universal horror movies as well as the popular novel Donovan's Brain, (which has been filmed at least three times).  His directorial career was far less distinguished tha that of his brother Robert (who directed several acclaimed film noirs, including The Killers), being confined to a handful of fifties B-movies.  It was also unusual in having actually been filmed on location in Brazil and, unusually for a B-movie of the period, was shot in colour.

In typical pulp-style, its plot mixes together several genres, with intrepid white explorers penetrating the Amazon jungle in search of a cure for cancer.  There they have to brave both hostile natives and the local wildlife - not to mention the title menace: a legendary local monster.  But this latter element - Curucu - is the film's biggest weakness, being a ludicrous concoction which is all too obviously a man wearing a bad mask and fake claws.  Which is OK, because, as it turns out, Curucu turns out to be just that - a fake monster played by the local witch doctor who is trying to scare his people away from the 'progressive' ways of the white man and back toward traditional superstitions.  Which was undoubtedly a major disappointment for audiences thinking that they were going to see a monster movie with an exotic location. 

While all the imagery of blow pipe wielding natives, lush jungles, giant anacondas coiling around women, ferocious alligators and jaguars come straight out of the pages of the average men's magazine, I can't help but suspect that it was films like this that, at least in part, inspired Italian Mondo film makers.  The raw material of location shooting and exploitation of local culture to provide a spectacle for audiences are all there.  Not to mention the exploitation of local wildlife and the inevitable animal cruelty involved in getting them to 'perform' for the cameras.  Indeed, it might not even be too much of a stretch to imagine that this sort of jungle schlock exerted some influence on the later Italian jungle cannibal films.  According to cinematic legend, when he had completed photography on Curucu, Siodmak found that he had a significant amount of colour film left over.  So, he promptly used it to shoot a secomd B-movie on the same locations: Love Slaves of the Amazon.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Bottom of the Barrel TV

It was another of those 'No shit, Sherlock' moments today, wasn't it?  I mean, all the online opprobrium directed at The Jeremy Kyle Show after it was announced that it has been suspended indefinitely following the death of a participant.  It is as if people have only realised that this reprehensibl, barrel scraping, excuse for entertainment is entirely exploitative of the poor and underprivileged, parading them and their problems on TV as if they were circus freaks, inviting audiences to laugh at them.  Has it really taken the death of some poor sod who participated in it to make people aware of how poisonous this show and its ilk are?   For God's sake, some of us have been condemning this evil shit from the moment it first cursed our TV screens - where were all these self-righteous bastards then?  But really, should any of us be surprised that a TV show like this should have prospered during the past near-decade of austerity, with the Tories demonising the poor, the needy, the disabled, the mentally ill on a daily basis?   Isn't it just part of a pattern of TV programming which constitutes 'poverty porn', that bottom of the barrel scraping genre which revels in the pain and misfortune of others?

It says something quite disturbing about as as a society, I think, when we make some kind of hero out of a hectoring, blustering bully like Jeremy Kyle.  A man who brings what, in effect, the dregs of society, people whose accumulated problems have dragged them to rock bottom, emotionally, economically and morally, onto his TV show to remonstrate with them, belittle them, accuse them of being liars, despite having no actual qualifications himself with regard to any of the issues raised.  But hey, who needed experts?  People were tired of experts, we were told.  So instead we got complete amateurs bullying people on TV rather than referring them to someone who might actually be able to help them.  Hopefully, though, the suspension of Kyle's show will maerk the beginning of the end for this unpleasant genre.  (Although we should, perhaps, pay heed to the lesson of Noel Edmunds, whose career looked like suffering a set back when a member of the public died rehearing a stunt for his Late, Late Breakfast Show - but Noel was back before you knew it, with his House Party blighting our screens for many years).  It never ceases to amaze that politicians, the media and moral campaigners put so much effort into condemning and trying to ban various types of pornography and so called 'Video Nasties', not to mention large parts of the internet, yet happily ignore the really harmful self like The Jeremy Kyle Show and its ilk.

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Ship of Monsters (1959)


Sometimes you come across something which leaves you bemused and bewildered. Ship of Monsters falls into this category.  I stumbled across this 1959 Mexican movie which incorporates science fiction, monsters and singing cowboys purely by accident.  A fortuitous accident as I really couldn't believe what I was seeing.  As already intimated, it draws upon several US genres and blends them together into an unforgettable experience.  The scenario is simple: Venus needs men.  Badly,  So the solution is to send off a rocketship manned by two young women clad in what appear to be bathing suits to find and capture the most handsome and perfect specimens of masculinity from across the galaxy.  Unfortunately, despite an exhaustive search, the best they can come up with are a huge headed Martian prince (possibly inspired by the aliens in Invasion of the Saucer  Men), an eight legged spider man, a reptilian cyclops and a being that appears to be entirely skeletal, all frozen in blocks of ice for the homeward journey.

Unfortunately, as they head for home, their spaceship breaks down and they are forced to land on Earth for repairs.  Here, the navigator (who isn't actually a Venusian), decides to double cross the commander by releasing the male monsters and plot to conquer the earth with their assistance.  Their conquest starts with the terrorising of the nearest human settlement - a Mexican village. The monsters are sent out with specific missions:  spider guy is told 'I'm sure the children will be to your liking', skeleton dude is assigned the women and cyclops told to deal with the animals.  All of which makes them sound like a bunch of intergalactic sex offenders.  While they are out doing their thing, the navigator canoodles with the Martian prince.  While we don't see what spider dude and skeleton guy get up to, we do see the results of the cyclops' activities - cattle reduced to skeletons.  Skeletons which, bizarrely, are left standing intact.  Said cattle are the property of a local singing cowboy, who first tangles with the cyclops before encountering the Venusian space ship commander, who enlists his support in foiling the rogue navigator's plans.

In a truly delirious climax, the commander, the cowboy and his kid brother and the commander's rickety robot, take on the alien monsters in what appears to be a mass brawl.  The martian is killed after he is hit in the head by a rock fired from the brother's catapult, his huge bonce deflating as a result, the spider dies from his own venom after biting himself, while the cyclops is set on fire by the robot.  The navigator - who, it turns out can fly - impales herself on a branch while swooping down on the commander.  Strangely, we never learn of the skeleton creature's fate - he vanishes from the narrative before the climactic fight.  It's all incredibly low-rent and cheesy, stylistically very much like a pre-war Hollywood cinema serial, (indeed, the focus on a singing cowboy as the hero of a science fiction saga recalls the Gene Autry serial Phantom Empire), even the robot is reminiscent of the ambulatory dustbins which wandered through many classic serials.  The monsters themselves are utterly bizarre, looking somewhat like over-sized muppets, yet curiously effective, while the overall atmosphere is oddly disturbing.  Like all great schlock, Ship of Monsters comes on like a fever dream, with bizarre scenes following one after another.  Immensely enjoyable, the entertainment value of the version I saw was hugely enhanced by the frequently surreal English language sub-titles.  A truly amazing cinematic experience.

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Thursday, May 09, 2019

Talking a Load of Balls

At least this time I didn't drop my watch into a bath full of water - Tottenham really have to stop making these dramatic Champions League comebacks with their last minute goals.  It isn't good for my stress levels.  To be honest, I still don't really believe that we''re actually in the Champions League final - part of me still suspects that we all suffered some kind of mass hallucination and that Moura didn't really score a literal last minute winner.  Perhaps in the Netherlands they are all celebrating Ajax qualifying for the finals and are ascribing our delusion of an all-English final to Brexit-induced madness.  But, apparently Spurs are in the final, where they will meet Liverpool.  All I can hope is that Manchester City win in the league on Sunday, denying Liverpool the Premiership title and that they'll be so demoralised that the scouse bastards just don't turn up in the final in Madrid.  I dream of seeing all those deluded and arrogant Liverpool fans staggering around in a daze on 2 June, realising they've won nothing and saying things like 'Eh, eh, call the bizzies!  We've been robbed!  It was our year! Eh, eh!'  God, I hate those scousers.

But, as I've noted before, this isn't a football blog, although this is going to be a post of two halves.  So, let us move on to one pf the more usual subjects we dabble in here - politics.  Most specifically, those local election results which pundits have been trying to pick the bones out of for the past week.  Actually, political punditry is a lot like football punditry in that a lot of balls is talked, with most 'judgements' being based on personal bias rather than any sort of objective criteria.  Anyway, the narrative that most of the media seems to want us to take away is that both main parties did badly because the electorate wanted to punish them over their failure to deliver Brexit.  The flaw in this narrative is that while the Tories performed disastrously, Labour lost less than a hundred seats.  Now, it is true that, arguably, they should have done better and picked up seats from the Tories, but it was hardly a disastrous result.  Disappointing, yes.  Nut and electoral meltdown?  No. And if the electorate were sending a message about Brexit, then it is a very confused one, as the main beneficiaries of the Tory meltdown were the Lib Dems and the Greens, both pro-Remain parties.  If they were angry at Brexit not being implemented, why didn't they vote UKIP?  But UKIP suffered its own electoral meltdown, losing seats left, right and centre.  So, did the results actually reflect a shift to a pro-Remain stance in the electorate at large?  Well, you can't really draw that conclusion, either - the Liberal Democrats have traditionally always done well at local level and the Greens' profile had been boosted by the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations.  Perhaps people were voting on local issues - it was a local election after all.  Maybe they just wanted their bins emptied once a week.  Then again, maybe they voted on environmental issues.  The fact is that we just don't know enough about their voting intent. Meaning that, at the end of the day, we just don't have a clue what those results mean, if anything.


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Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Never Simple

Things are never as straightforward as people seem to they should be.  Take the recent 'Exrtinction Rebellion' protests in London, for instance.  Leaving aside the question of why the police seem to be able to make hundreds of arrests when faced by peaceful protestors, yet can never seem to arrest a single person when racists and neo-Nazis brazenly march through our streets, one of the issues raised by the protests was the degree to which it is legitimate to disrupt people's everyday lives in pursuit of your cause.  At least, this seemed to be the issue most concerning the right-wing press.  To be fair, it is a good question.  On the one hand, the protestors' defence was that the issue they were publicising was of such overwhelming importance, that forcing commuters, workers and shoppers in Central London to endure a few days of disruption to their routines was a small price to pay if it got the message over.  On the other hand, the reality is that the people having their journeys to work disrupted have to earn a living - they have no choice but to travel everyday.  Being late could result in a loss of earnings, or worse.  Not to mention the additional stress they will incur from such delays. That's the problem - while the alarming environmental damage we've inflicted on the planet is, indeed, one of the most pressing issues facing us, we also have to exist in the here and now, which means trudging to and from work every day and devoting huge swathes our time to drudgery rather than thinking about what we can do to save the planet.

All of which brings me to the issue of those people who keep writing into The Guardian, bemoaning all the time being wasted on Brexit, complaining that it is so trivial compared to the 'real' issue of saving the planet.  Not only does this make them sound unbearably sanctimonious, but it also betrays an overly simplistic world view.  Brexit most certainly isn't unimportant, not least in terms of its potential impact on environmental issues.  If the right-wingers driving Brexit get their way in the form of a 'No Deal' Brexit, then, with the UK 'free' of EU regulations and guidelines on things like pollution, carbon emissions and the like, will be able to, as David Cameron allegedly once said, 'lose the Green crap'.  It would be a huge step backward as far as green issues go - which is precisely why it is essential that so much time is spent on ensuring that any Brexit we have to endure preserves the environmental protections currently provided by EU law.  (Likewise such 'minor' things as the employment legislation which protects workers and human rights in general).  Moreover, Brexit will weaken the EU and its institutions, just a time when the extreme right is on the rise across Europe and might just help boost their chances of achieving power.  And I'm afraid that the rise of the right certainly won't help to advance environmental issues.  Quite the opposite: just look at what is happening in Brazil as laws which protected the Amazon forests from over-exploitation are axed.  I know the Nazis had a tree-hugging element, but in reality the Third Reich wasn't noted for its conservation efforts.  So bolstering any political institution which champions basic human rights is essential.  All of which means that Brexit isn't 'irrelevant' as far as the 'bigger picture' is concerned.

In fact, the Brexiteers and the green lobby do have something in common: both are single issue campaigners who, all too often, cannot see past their zeal for their causes and recognise that no issues exist in isolation.  To be sure, environmental activism is pursuing a far more important cause than Brexit, but just as the Brexiteers could not (or more likely would not) see how the achievement of their single cause would affect every aspect of life in the UK (and beyond), so the environmentalists are in danger of failing to see how everything else is interconnected with their cause.  No political issue (and the environment is a political issue) exists in isolation. The fact is that if we are to get anywhere with regard to taking meaningful measures to save the environment, then stuff like Brexit has to be sorted out, (not to mention stuff like electoral reform for the UK). Like I said, sadly, things just aren't as simple as we'd like them to be.

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