The Bemolution ended up watching Taken 3 in a Peckham cinema to numb the pain of a particularly trying day-visit to London.
We could’ve watched award-festooned Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything. We could’ve watched Benjamin Cabbagepatch-starring Alan Turing-focused historical thriller The Imitation Game. But we didn’t, because we have absolutely no taste – and very little interest – in films.
It was distracting, brain-stupefying trash – precisely the kind of cultural output we usually lambast for infantilising whole generations, but hypocritically lap up, in small, strictly-rationed doses at least. Essentially, it’s two hours of wish-fulfilment for aging mid-life crisis survivors, seeing near-sexagenarian Liam Neeson beat (younger) people up, shoot people, torture people, drive fast cars and evade death in ways the film eventually gives up on even trying to explain. It’s dumb, disposable, illogical fun.
Later the same week, gently toasting by a rattling fan heater one evening back in Somerset, we watched 1973’s Magnum Force – the second to star Clint Eastwood as fascist supercop “Dirty” Harry Callahan. Equally violent, even more ethically dubious, and even more fun – an old favourite of ours, in fact.
But both films are politically horrible. So how is it possible to still enjoy them? By switching off the critical bit of your brain and just plonking yourself in front of them, is the short answer.
But even as you do that, there’s another very, very important something you also have to cling to or risk being swayed by bludgeoning right-wingery – the fact that these films aren’t set in the real world, and the things that happen in them, the kinds of values and practices that are celebrated in them, don’t work in the real world. Continue reading