The West’s conception of the social order, it has been remarked, is organised into hierarchies, structured by our attitude toward different kinds of violence. Violence directed down the hierarchy is invisible; violence upward is unthinkable.
So it is that when, as generally happens at some point during an Israeli massacre, a hapless Lib Dem MP sticks their head above the parapet – making a few, inoffensive remarks on the root causes of Palestinian violence – that head is immediately blown off. A couple of years ago it was Jenny Tonge, sacked from the Lib Dem front bench after a remark about the root cause of suicide bombings, and finally expelled from the party after questioning whether Israel could long survive the way it was going – a suggestion Nick Clegg condemned as “wrong and offensive”. Continue reading
Spoiler warning: best not read on if you don’t want to ruin The World’s End, Alien, Star Trek: First Contact or Alpha Papa. You have been warned.
In The World’s End, the most recent comedy from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (and third in their “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy), a group of five middle-aged friends reunite to complete the “Golden Mile” pub crawl they failed to finish decades earlier, after leaving school at the age of 17. The crawl finishes at the twelfth pub in their sleepy home town of Newton Haven, The World’s End. Bringing them together is Pegg’s Gary King – a flamboyant, chaotic, arrogant and directionless alcoholic trying desperately to relive the glories of his youth, and particularly the night of the crawl – the “best night of his life”. Soon, though, they discover that most of the town’s inhabitants have been replaced by blue-ink-blooded robots – or “blanks” – who, after pursuing, fighting, attempting to seduce and in a few cases catching the protagonists, finally confront Gary King (Simon Pegg), Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) and Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) beneath the World’s End pub. Here, the blanks’ alien controllers, “The Network”, reveal that they have brought about all of humanity’s recent advances in communications, and expose their plot to reform a failing Earth by carefully replacing select groups of humans. Offering to fulfil King’s dreams, they present a set of blanks identical to himself and his friends in their youth – but King rebuffs them, and the aliens finally decide to “leave you to your own devices”: departing the Earth, they trigger a fireball that devastates the planet, abandoning humanity in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Out of the ashes emerges a different world: organic gardening; a rising, quasi-xenophobic hatred of the confused and leftover “blanks”; and a reformed, water-quaffing Gary King roaming the earth alongside robotic replicas of his friends in their youth, battling the fascistic clientele of the film’s final pub, the Rising Sun. Continue reading