Friday, 5 September 2008

"No Guns Please: We're British"*

* With apologies...

It looks like Britain is finally losing patience with America's degenerate need to wallow in its own routine (and, by now, unconscious) glorification of casual violence. The U.K's Advertising Standards Authority has just proscribed a poster campaign for Wanted (starring inner-tube-lipped flake Angelina Jolie), which features the actress lounging on a car holding a gun. Here's what the Authority had to say about what is, frankly, a perfectly typical and even banal American paen to what my church's baptismal liturgy calls the "glamour of evil":

[W]e considered that because the ads featured a glamorous actress, action poses, several images of or related to guns and aspirational text, they could be seen to glamorise the use of guns and violence. We concluded (they) could be seen to condone violence by glorifying or glamorising the use of guns.
No shit! The promotional campaign for an American movie is actually using an eroticised firearm as a key component of its artwork, for only the seventy millionth time?

Do you mean to tell me that this campaign dares to suggest that the ne plus ultra of cool, the apex of class and the summit of all our aspirations is to find an excuse to pump the full contents of a SIG Sauer 9mm magazine into the head of some suitably expendable, unattractive, non-American, non-blond, non-English-speaking loser? I am shocked...shocked, I say! What an odd departure from the kinds of things Hollywood is noted for--stories about poets, philosophers, doctors, theologians, teachers, farmers...Gee, I hope this American obsession with thrill-killing scumbag misfits is just a fad.

In all earnestness, though, I'm delighted to see that a public agency in the U.K. is actually being responsive to the sensibilities of citizens. The Authority says:

We have seen a proliferation of complaints from the public about advertising which is seen to condone gun or knife crime. We are responding to the level of consumer concern.
If this sounds impossibly exotic to North American ears, it's because we've become inured to the grotesque notion that all space is corporate, that private agendas take precedence over public ones, and that the marketing industry has a divine right to turn every aspect of our environment into leaven for already-bloated transnational investment portfolios.

It is so refreshing to see government help people assert their right to a social space that is livable rather than sellable, yet it galls me to have to acknowledge that, if such a gesture were ever attempted here, the bleats of civil libertarians would be drowned out by the howls of Harperoid "conservative" market fundamentalists, who would smugly remind us all that the "nanny state" has no right to interfere in the brilliant job that market forces appear to be doing in setting North America's cultural tone. Why, every healthy, red-blooded North American teenager wants to be the next Steve-O, Britney or Jenna Jameson. Let Europa have her Rembrandts, her Monets, her Einsteins, and her Schweitzers. As long as Wall Street and Madison Avenue keep on sanctifying porn stars, bimbos and morons, we'll continue to have plenty of talent to place alongside those stuffy old krauts, frogs, wops and dagoes.

I love the way Universal Pictures (the dreck factory that produced Wanted) defended the ad. Their ineptitude clearly reflects their shock at actually being made to defend the poster, an anti-capitalist outrage that would never have happened Stateside:

Universal Pictures, the studio behind the movie, insisted the posters had not appeared near schools or other areas frequented by children.
Really. This is the planet Americans live on: as long as you keep posters away from schools, British kids will never view them. You see, England's downtown city streets, the London Underground, and all the other common venues for movies posters are strictly off limits to minors.



Aeneas the Younger said...

Nice to see our Cousins stand a little firmer against cultural pollution.

As apropos of nothing, will you be going to see Paul Gross' "Passchendaele" next month?

A big-budget Canadian movie! What will they think of next?

What do you bet that "Basic Instinct 8" - or some such tripe - out-grosses this attempt to create a Canadian Screen Epic?

Sir Francis said...

Nice to see our Cousins stand a little firmer against cultural pollution.

LOL! I like to see them as our brothers and sisters, with the Yanks as our cousins (a few times removed), but I know the cultural connections that made such a thing intelligible are fading fast.

About the movie: I didn't realise its premiere was approaching so quickly. I've noticed the posters at the cinema, but I assumed it was being timed for a holiday release. I wonder what the logic is in releasing it before the most lucrative movie-going season? Is it being set up to fail?

Of course, I'll see it, but I have huge reservations. My fear is that it'll have the typical "Heritage Minute" earnestness or a facile, pseudo-American Saving Private Ryan chest-beating, neither of which would do justice to the grandeur of the story. If it has the austerity and dignity of something like A Bridge Too Far or The Cruel Sea, I'll be both delighted and surprised.

Now, where's the friggin' movie about the War of 1812?

Aeneas the Younger said...

I would refer to them as our "Siblings" but the trolls love to see me wallow in the British connection and then call me a racist - never mind that Britain is a multi-cultural society and has been since the Roman occupation.

The initial scuttlebutt on the movie is that the war scenes are very well done, but that they have woven a somewhat maudlin love story into the screenplay - presumably to broaden the story for those who perhaps would find two hours of War too much to stomach. As well, the clips I have seen play-up the fact that it was the Canadians who took the Ridge - which, while true, tends to devalue the contributions of the British and Anzac Divisions over the course of July, August, and September 1917. That is a problem for me, as it will hinder the overall distribution and general acceptance of the film in Britain and Australasia.

I do have hope that Gross will resist resorting to jingoism too much, and instead pay tribute to the manifest heroism of those men over those hellish weeks of 1917in, as you say, a more austere and dignified manner.

I do think the October 4th release was done to play it into Remembrance Day - as well as a way to fill the sorry gap between the Summer "Blockbuster" season and the Christmas blitz.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Ti-Guy said...

I would refer to them as our "Siblings" but the trolls love to see me wallow in the British connection and then call me a racist..

We're just jealous because we're insufficiently English. I've searched high and low to discover even a quantum of English blood in my veins, but so far, the closest I've managed to come is Flemish...low German in other words.

Rather disheartening, I must say.

Sir Francis said...

but so far, the closest I've managed to come is Flemish...

LOL! That's close enough. Flemish legions were of immense help to Strongbow when he subdued Ireland with his Cambro-Norman army. I'm sure there was plenty of hanky-panky going on in the camps, so some of your Flemish forbears may very well have had a little British in them (so to speak).

Seriously, if you're depending on an oral history for your genetic inheritance, I'd be careful. I've always believed that Franco-Canadians are generally more mischling than they like to acknowledge, given the power of the pure laine mythology. I think the existence of Anglo or Native ancestry was often expunged from family consciousnesses immediately after its intrusion. I can't help but look at someone like Trudeau and Mario Dumont and wonder how a Native ancestry could not be assumed from their features (and not just in the abstract, spiritual way that Trudeau liked to claim it). Native ancestry has traditionally (and sadly) been considered déclassé in Quebec and Ontario, despite the paradoxical romanticisation of the coureurs des bois.

In recent genealogical research, I discovered that a significant Irish heritage in my mother's British family had been covered up. My grand-mother certainly never mentioned it (the oral history was that they had some "European" in them, variously described as German or Norwegian).

Irish blood was considered disgraceful in England well into the Edwardian era, and it apparently didn't help that we were Catholic anyway. The "exotic" features of the family had to be given some genteel gloss, and, clearly, being part German or Scandinavian was better than being part Irish. Sad, really.