Friday, December 7, 2007

This Is England

I finally got to see This Is England a couple weeks ago and I've noticed that it's been all over the blogoshpere recently as well (the DVD was just released in the US, so I imagine a lot of people are just now picking it up as I did). I'd been looking forward to the movie for months and was stoked to finally get to see it.

This Is England is Shane Meadows' semi-autobiographical account of his vague associations with the skinhead cult in the early 1980s. It is the first time I've ever seen non-racist skins depicted in a movie (outside of the 10 second explanation given in the Troma classic Dog Years). The timeline of events happens to fall during the Thatcher period of political unrest in Britain, when people were reacting to inflating immigration issues and a failing economy (sounds familiar, right?), and skinheads, being mostly white, working class males, were reacting the most, and being suckered into far right-wing political movements like the National Front. In essence, it explains the roots of the "white power" element of skinhead.

The soundtrack is perfect, mostly older ska (the opening credits are set to "54-46 Was My Number") with a little 80s music to fit the time period. Amazon has it, but it's pretty pricey. The tracks worth having are definitely worth going out and buying the records by the original artists, though.

I wasn't around in the 80s, so I can't say it's spot on, but I can say that, for me, it's the most accurate depiction of the subculture I've seen in any sort of mass media. The obvious differences can be explained by looking at the fact that it was England in 1983, and so things in the US in 2007 are obviously going to have different connotations. But, the real scary thing was just how close some things are. The political state of the US is so close to what was happening in England at the time, and people are reacting in the same way. With immigration on the rise and racial tensions getting more heated every day in some areas, I'm seeing what were once considered legitimate aspects of the skinhead culture being warped by nationalism and blind patriotism. It can be explained away that there's a fine line between nationalism and racism, which there is, but it's a fine line we walk on every single day, and I've seen a lot of people straddle it. Can't we learn anything from the past?

1 comment:

Cherryl said...

excellent mini-commentary on skins, racism and nationalism, and the fence we all ride everyday. well, most of us with a certain consciousness do anyway.