This is England ’86. Oh God. Not again. Just as we have all stupidly fallen for The Sun’s editorial and re-elected some kind of Toryled regime to govern us. Up steps Channel 4 to cheerily remind us of the great fun and games we had trying to keep our heads above water during the reign of the Arts-baiting Totalitarian Margaret Hilda Thatcher. Thanks for that, but lets take a closer examination of this re-tailored set of Emperors New Clothes, shall we? See if we can learn how to fight back against this latest round of Conservative wet dream slashes.
The Director: Shane Meadows, was a ray of hope in the mid-nineties when he burst onto an unsuspecting film scene with his nobudget, underground films, namely “24/7” and the emblematic “Small Time” (which is roughly the template for everything he’s done since – dominant male ruling the roost and scaring the heroes or heroines). Some of these have been great – “A Room For Romeo Brass” and “Dead Man’s Shoes,” but too often since and after the original film version of “This Is England” (which is by no means a Perfect Movie) cracks the size of the fiscal deficit have begun to appear and this televisual offering of “This is England” is the biggest crack of all. How depressing that a movie that originally shone its light on the dark days of racist Britain has been homogenised into a weak episode of that other Channel 4 Teenfuck Fest “SKINS.” What was Shane thinking? Hiring that writer, who has butchered the historical accuracy of that period and reduced the characters to one-dimensional parodies of who we were back then, or even who the characters were in the original film? In the original film we followed the character Sean (a character apparently based on Shane Meadows and his experiences) as he is manipulated into joining the National Front.
The writer of Skins has taken this character and given him absolution, which I will buy, but asking the audience to accept overtly racist characters suddenly being loveable and charming is a little bit hard to swallow. Surely Mr. Meadows should have gone down the route of doing some research and opened his fucking eyes to what really went on back then. As well as being six years out in the wardrobe department, it would’ve been much more interesting to look at how politically influenced young people were back then (Redskins 1986 anyone?). As opposed to how they are today, little heelclicking robots repeatedly pressing the LIKE button on Facebook at anything that doesn’t have words. Right now I can hear the Producers going “Yes, Chaz and that’s exactly what we set out to do – to show how today’s youth are callow and, Yes! The 80’s are hip again, you only have to jump on a bus to Shoreditch to see that, Men in capes with Edwardian moustaches - lets throw the whole thing together and see who wants to advertise!! But lets actually make it look like 1980!” (Which is the one successful thing it did do.)
In 1980, Britain was vicious. In 1981, Britain exploded – Handsworth, Toxteth, and Brixton all went up in flames as the Youth of Britain took to the streets to make a protest. Can you really see that happening today? Even in the face of cuts more savage than the Iron Lung Lady could manage? Of course not! They’ve all been mollycoddled with pap, chased for their advertising stream to such an extent that we’ve bred a complacent, self-important generation of divas and dunces far too consumed with narcissism to give a fuck about the Politics of the day.