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Last night I saw the film This is England.
I’d heard good things and generally was not disappointed – was a very well directed, superbly-acted skinhead flick, to be reductive about it. Given my interest in nostalgia and collective memory, particularly in constructed memories and the collision of the pop with the political, I was interested in how the texture of Thatcher’s England would be portrayed. It was actually fairly intoxicating – Rubik’s Cubes, Buckaroo, clock radios and 80s fashion-fashion-fashion was interspersed with the Falklands war and miner’s protests. It was kind of gorgeous.
The kind of nostalgia used in the film portrays the issues (nationalism/ racism and its associated nasties) as entities discrete in time, that can be reflected on from the same comfortable distance as Doc Martens, Culture Club eyeliner and clunky analogue technology. Skinny jeans have made a comeback in recent years, so maybe this is an unfair assessment. Does ideology get recycled with fashion or is it an empty recuperation?
The throwing of the flag into the sea was an implausible closing gesture… it did strike me though that most of the significant action in the film took place within the timespan of one little boy’s haircut, which seemed accidentally, significantly poignant.