Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

Thursday, 13 December 2018

The May Gollum Video

It's not easy being a non-conformist. It means I often adopt unpopular positions and play devil's advocate just for the heck of it. But for the purposes of writing practice, let's take a look at a recent video that's making waves on social media at the moment.

The May Gollum video, featuring Andy Serkis, the original actor who outstandingly portrayed Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and much more, has been doing the rounds since Dec 9 2018.

I just want to start off by saying, I agree with the main goal of this video, which I believe to be to encourage a People's Vote - in other words a second EU referendum. I think this is a good idea, because it's such a huge, important contentious issue and a lot of things have come to light since the last one, that many people will probably have changed their minds.

Secondly, I have absolute respect for Andy Serkis, the Lord of the Rings is hands down one of my favourite books and movie franchises. It is a wonderful life's work by many people, not least JRR Tolkien.

Thirdly, this video is very effective and emotionally jarring because of that. Quite shocking actually, due to the ties we have with the Lord of the Rings films and a huge nod must be given to Andy for an excellent and faithful performance for a political cause he must believe in enough to reprise the role.

Fourthly, I myself sometimes turn to ridiculing those I feel are in the wrong, regarding Barclays and Fracking, for example.

So why do I feel something here is a bit off? Something that prohibits me from jumping wholeheartedly behind this video and spreading it like wildfire? I've already stated I agree with its message, I appreciate it as a valid method for influencing the people, it's an interesting, non-violent creative attack using humour which I'm all for. So why does it stick in my craw?

I'll be honest, I voted Leave. The reason is simply that because I believed in the UK being able and better suited to make its own decisions, and I wanted my vote to matter more. That was the core of my thinking. I had/have nothing against immigration policies. I had/have nothing against Europe or Europeans. I just suspected that we were handing over the reins to a third party when we should be holding them ourselves. 

I held no great love for the Euro, as I missed the times when you could travel Europe and see lira, francs, drachma, punts, and lamented that those cultural characteristics will be lost forever. 

Also, the EU didn't seem to be working for Greece, who had lost the ability to fluctuate its own currency and was now dependent on loans. (This is disagreed with here but monetary policy inflexibility is cited as a reason on wikipedia.) As will be obvious I don't know much about economics, but this sounded like a problem. If it could happen to Greece, perhaps it could happen to us. Other European countries, such as Norway and Switzerland, are not in the EU, so living apart from the EU must be possible, so why shouldn't we?

That was my thinking back then. But as I will point out, things have come to light.

Incidentally, my humble videography company was commissioned to create a video privately regarding reasons for leaving the EU, which can be seen here:

To be honest I had not really thought about it either way by the time we made this video, but as a media business, I wasn't going to turn away money to do a job. I would have gladly accepted payment to do a 'Remain' video as well, but no-one asked me to. I took professional pride in this video. A man had something to say and wanted us to be his mouth piece, which I appreciated and respected. He made valid points and I was no doubt swayed by them.

The morning of the result I was actually surprised that we'd won.

But many things have come to light since the vote.

A. The Northern Ireland Border problem.

I confess, I never thought about this before voting and now think this may be a good reason to change my mind if there's a People's Vote.

B. The EU has implemented a lot of laws to help and protect the environment, which I'm beginning to suspect the UK may not actually stick to post Brexit.

C. I've sadly lost faith in the UK being able to make the best decisions for itself and the planet. 

But back to the May Gollum video. I've identified five points, five areas where I find myself personally irked by it.

Point 1. The video is well directed, shot and acted and it scares the hell out of me. But one thing that puts me off is that making fun of mental illness, ie multiple personality disorder, is basically what is going on here. Something with this weapon of choice does not sit right. Mental health is a huge issue with several friends, family and clients I know struggling in their own different ways. If we go around doing Gollum impressions of every person we don't like, who is different, who is struggling, what message is this giving out to people?

Point 2. Next. Forevermore Gollum, that fantastic, tragic, wonderful, terrible creature in the Lord of the Rings, who basically (spoiler alert) saved Middle Earth due to having a penchant for finger food, the subject of creative art featured in book and film form, will remind me of Theresa May, Brexit, Conservatives, and politics. And it cannot be undone. The connection wasn't there before, but now it is. I'll watch my Lord Of The Rings Special Edition DVD Box Set over New Year, look at Gollum and think, 'Oh yeah, Theresa May and Brexit, how messed up was all that?' Something treasured and cherished, that Andy himself provided, has now sadly been withdrawn. I had been given something which was perfect - wonderful - a golden apple that I expected to shine and glitter and value for the rest of eternity, and then it was kind of ruined, hijacked for political purposes. Someone sold out. For perhaps an admirable cause, but nevertheless. What are the thoughts of Peter Jackson on this? Tolkien's estate?

Point 3. I'm not a conservative by any means, but Theresa May, for all the perceived faults and injustices that she may seem to have caused, after being handed a sackful of manure by David Cameron ("Here you are, I'm off.") is actually carrying out what the British public asked her to do. And we have to give her credit for carrying through what has turned out to be a hugely unpopular decision. Making her a villain or comparing her to someone with mental health issues for showing resolution, gumption and mettle in the face of enormous adversity, is too much. 

Point 4. We had a vote. A decision was made. That's the nature of Democracy. We can't blame her for doing what we asked her to do, even though we might have changed our mind. In retrospect maybe it should have been stipulated that a 60-40 majority was needed to make such a devastating change to the country and Europe, but ultimately, we already had a People's Vote, and she's sticking to it. Why are we mocking courage? Why are we laughing at resolve? Why are we comparing a person, any person, to Gollum?

Point 5. It's a personal attack on a public forum on someone out on a limb. Have we no empathy left? Have we no common decency? What on earth is happening to this country? Why don't we just poke her with a sharp stick? I may ridicule Barclays Bank managers in general but I would never dream of calling out one specific manager of one specific branch on a public forum and say for example, "Hey, Mr XYZ, you eat raw fish, have a speech impediment, may be suffering early stages of bronchitis, just want to be happy, have single handedly saved the modern world, suffer from mental health problems and are a bit of a shady character!" Would I? No. Because that would be weird.

My father once said there are three things you don't do speeches about: sex, religion and politics (unless you're a standup comedian I guess). But if you look closely at this you'll find it's not really about politics, it's about the difference between a character assassination attempt versus simply disagreeing with someone while being nice to them. A skill that as a nation we seem to be sadly losing.