davidhare wrote:Michael I already am unemployable.
I sometimes find it very hard to reconcile the arts dealing with such complex themes from films that can inspire great empathy with the characters and their situations, or show images of great beauty, or tackle the state of the world and then having to return to a somewhat harsher reality where none of these lessons sadly seem to apply.
That sort of makes me more protective of the arts though as a form of escape - it certainly influences my world view whether through seeing a documentary like The Corporation classifying businesses as psychotics, or whether it is learning and understanding more about different cultures through their cinema (since I'm not going to be doing much travelling any time soon DVDs are my passport!).
What perhaps frightens me more is that, however powerfully the problems with the world are stated and restated in films such as Naked, Salo or films by Bruno Dumont or Michael Haneke, there is a big blank when it comes to trying to propose a solution or way of life beyond their dark visions (Gordon McMurphy brought up this point in a thread about Haneke last year). It may not be their intention to show a solution in their films but it is a little worrying when the artists of the world seem to be a little at a loss about where everything is going - perhaps because when you get to the stage that these films predict there is no going back and nothing to move forward to. That grinding inertia of no history and no future is perhaps the scariest thing in many of these new styles of apocalyptic film, where there is no atom bomb and aftermath to overcome, just a steady dehumanisation.
Strangely Will Self's question to Mike Leigh in 2000 about whether he would make a film about Blair's Britain in the future, and the fact that Leigh hasn't made that film says a lot about how Naked sadly still applies to the present day - and says a lot about the inertia in society that you just change Thatcher to Blair and that is all that is needed to modernise the film! It was fascinating to watch a recent episode of Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain series on the BBC which tackled Thatcher and see that all of her principles, including becoming a wartime leader, Blair has taken up! Love her or (especially!) hate her, at least Thatcher had a kind of plan in what she intended to do, mixed with a good portion of luck in being up against incompetent opponents whose actions only gave her the leverage to push her reforms further. Perhaps her most lasting legacy however was as an inspiration for the next generation of policitians, who might not have shared her views or attitudes but were very interested in her longevity and covetous of her position. Blair is the epitome of this in his creation of 'New Labour' to win over Conservative voters, while at the same time creating a kind of one party state, or at least a 'three parties fighting over the middle ground' state, where ideals and ideologies are changed at whim for maximum, but short term, gains and having a strong point of view about anything is a weakness rather than a strength because it means that people will know where you stand and might not agree! (Sadly we are now moving beyond even this 'shadow of Thatcher' Blair age into an age of policitians who are themselves inspired by Blair - a copy of a copy, personalities fading as control grows and the need to address the public on important issues also fades)
This would have been fine if it had just confined itself to the insular, backstabbing world of politics, but because politicians like to look as if they are 'doing something' they like to tinker with the infrastructure of the society. This usually takes the form of altruistic improvements of failing services - with Blair at the beginning it was "education, education, education" and the NHS - but usually ends up being about wrecking the already existing structure to put their own up in its place. However the new system never seems to work as well as the old one, even if the old one didn't work that well in the first place! It is the 'slash and burn' method of politics, so that all the achievements you make are totally those of your party and you as leader, but it often fails to recognise the huge upheavals it causes to society in having to accomodate these changes, along with all the people it disenfranchises along the way - and this is before you find out whether the changes were for the best or just imposed incompetently, blind to the obvious failures in the scheme.
Even if the changes in the NHS and education had been well thought out and well designed (which they weren't!), they would still be threatened by the next party that came to power completely reversing them! The best examples for this are the Millennium Dome and the 2012 Olympics. The Millenium Dome was commissioned by the Conservatives before they were thrown out of power in 1997, and dealt a major blow to Labour when they badly handled implementing it - a hot potato that ended up in Blair's hands! I can't help but feel the 2012 Olympics are the poisoned chalice being handed back to the Conservatives by Labour if they are thrown out of power before then. The use of major events as political warfare.
That is just a major example of what has been going on in most aspects of Britain. The Millennium Dome and the Olympics are so major and subject to so much scrutiny that their failings are more obvious. Something like the NHS doesn't have that much attention paid to it, and so politicians periodically throw money at it to show they are paying attention and grab the headlines, while at the same time paying no attention to where that money is going or what it is being used for. The same with education, public services etc. Then when things do not improve, the cash is cut off and major changes proposed to change things for the better. This leaves everything in a complete state of flux, not knowing what is going on from one moment to the next - not the best way to work! Somehow this has led to paying through taxes for a crippled NHS, and then paying again for a layer of private services over the top in order to get the best care and to get the best staff on better salaries which undermines everything still further. And this is under a Labour
While I'm completely against the Iraq War, sometimes I'm cyncially glad Blair got involved - at least while he was destroying that country, he wasn't as focused on destroying this one (we'd have probably gotten the ID card thing sooner if he wasn't so concerned about securing his international 'legacy')
Wow, that was quite a rant - the above was sponsored and paid for by the 'Grumpy Colinr0380 Against Selfish Society' party!