“Independence Day” – Politics as Hollywood

I wrote and posted this the day before the EU Referendum

Even as I write this, after lying awake in the small hours, I know I am wasting my time.  The EU Referendum campaign is over; I fear the “Brexiters” have won.  All that remains is for the votes to be cast and counted.  Until 21st June I had hope.  Then, at the end of a televised debate, Boris Johnson (front man of the “Leave” campaign”) claimed that today would be our ‘Independence Day’.  Much wild whooping and cheering from the audience, literally raised to its feet.  I felt the dagger.

Actually it was strongly redolent of that moment in the 1996 film “Independence Day” when President Thomas Whitmore (played by Bill Pullman) declares the human race is about to strike back at the aliens, kick ass, and free us from the grip of the invaders who have dragged us to the brink of extermination. More whooping and hollering. I shuddered. I shudder still.

Last night Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, picked up on, and repeated, the theme.  He knows a good thing when he hears one.  Actually I imagined Johnson and Farage playing the parts of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, inside the alien mothership, delivering the ‘nuke’ into the face of the uncomprehending invaders. Kaboom.  We are free; standing in the ruins of our civilisation but free.  Hollywood also knows a good thing when it sees one.  The aliens fight back in “Independence Day – The Resurgence”.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I imagine much the same outcome.

In some ways Hollywood parallels real life.  The studios and producers, having found a successful formula, tap into the mood of the audience and then keep doing it relentlessly until interest palls.  Then they’ll move on to create another franchise. In the case of the euphoria generated by Boris Johnson in that “Independence Day” moment, he (and his supporters) will have to keep finding something to reproduce the ‘high’ or lose his audience.  Like a casual sexual encounter, the moment of climax is all enveloping…but you are left with a bit of a mess, and someone who farts in bed.  We have to have something more substantive to make that worth enduring – or hop from bed to bed.

The point I am making, if it’s not clear already, is that once the dust has settled the hard work of building new relationships begins.  When the reality of “Independence” becomes a struggle, and doesn’t succeed as hoped, a new alien invasion will have to be confronted to reproduce that high, that unity. Boris et al have already played the external threat card so, logically, it might have to be be a threat from within.  The Resurgence.

I don’t doubt for a minute that Donald Trump and his advisers have noted what is happening.  Will he have his “Independence Day” moment?  Actually, I think he will.  President Trump, playing Randy Quaid’s leering alcoholic pilot-hero in “Independence Day”, may be looking at Putin, or anyone else, saying “All right you Alien assholes, in the words of my generation…….up yours”.

The reason for his character’s derangement – he’s been ‘violated’ by aliens. Kaboom.