David Davis has reassured us (in Vienna) that the UK will not be plunged into a Mad Max style dystopian future post-Brexit. The analogy was plugged well in advance and there must be method in it, so presumably this is all about ‘headline grabbing’ and getting David Davis trending and stoking the weakening embers of that most consistent Brexit trope ‘Project Fear.’
You remember PF! The Brexiteer nuclear option – that allowed an army of armchair Leave activists, talking heads and Brexit pundits to instantly eviscerate any semblance of debate by labelling anything any Remainer said as ‘Project Fear.’
“What about the Northern Ireland border?” Project Fear! “What about F.O.M?” Project Fear! “Cup of tea?” Project Fear! There was no need to come out with facts or figures or reasoned arguments once you had pressed the “Project Fear” button. It forced the average Reamoaner onto the defensive because most of us, foolishly perhaps, felt obliged (in those halcyon pre June 2016 days) to back up what we were saying with facts, figures and nice pie charts……… a hearty yell of “Project Fear!” rendered it all immaterial.
Anyway back to Mad Max. Davis is right. Of course Brexit won’t lead to the UK becoming some mad apocalyptic wasteland – where the men all wear leather and the token women run about screaming in late 70s perms. It’s a silly comparison and anyway, as Brexit Britain is a sequel to Britain, if you really want to get your Brexit film analogies right then you have to look not at the part ones but the part twos. I’ll be generous to Davis here and say Brexit Britain won’t be Mad Max1, 2, 3 or even Fury Road, indeed let’s forget about the Mad Max franchise altogether and look for inspiration at Grease 2 – instead.
As kids, my sister and I loved Grease. The cars, the T-birds, Sandy and her cigarette, Travolta and his hair….. it was one of those significant films of my childhood alongside Star Wars and Superman and Un Chien Andalou…. and sure by the time I was 11 or 12 I’d grown out of it and moved on but like all those defining movies of youth it kept a place in my heart.
And then – one day – about a decade ago – on a wet afternoon, when my wife was pregnant we watched the sequel in which Maxwell Caulfield (Cool Rider) wins the heart of Michelle Pfeiffer over the course of 114 inexcusable minutes. If you’ve never seen it and like Grease then my simple advice is this – keep it that way. Literally everything good about the original: the pace, the dancing, the songs, the performances, the just about believable romance between Travolta and Newton-John is taken, ripped up, put in a blender, ground into dust, driven out to a forest, shot, shat on by a herd of cows, trampled by those same cows, submerged in concrete, pissed on by a mule called Eric and then dumped in an open sewer. And I’m probably being kind. The songs go beyond ‘unmemorable’ – they are an offence to ‘notes’ and evolution. Grease 2 is so shockingly, appallingly and incompetently made that it doesn’t even qualify for the ‘so bad it’s good’ label. Everyone involved should be rounded up and sent to Guantanamo for a prolonged and enforced spell in the sun – twenty years should do it – and then make them swim home.
Most sequels of course are not made with any artistic considerations in mind. The primary driving force is greed. A successful original film creates a franchise and naturally there are those who wish to cash in on the success and there’s a willing audience out there prepared to go and revisit the characters and a hungry media machine happy to promote it for free. Sequels rarely make as much money as the original and are very often pale and unnecessary imitations of the first – but a handful of people make a lot of money out of them – while everyone else leaves the cinema wondering why they bothered and feeling that actually the original has now been a little bit soiled.
Britain 2, like Grease 2 before it, will feature walk on parts from some of those involved in the first, the locations will stay the same, there will be some motifs and nods to the original – but many of us will think about leaving half way through and in a decade or so most people involved, will be scrambling to get their names taken off the credits.