While away--in London--I was gearing up to write a long screed about the increasing unreadability of British newspapers, as it struck me again (as it has more and more over the recent decade) that even the serious ones have been taken over by a combination of tabloid sensibility and nouveaux-riches solipsism. Why, for example, Glastonbury was front-page news for about 4 days remains a mystery to me...
(For those of you who read German, the Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa wrote a nice commentary about the more general problem of the sinking standards in the press for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Thanks to Anja for the tip.)
Then, of course, there were the failed attacks on London and Glasgow, which, were the murderous intent and potential not so horrendous, would be almost laughable.
I mean...is it just me or is there not something darkly comical about a man--enraged by the failure of his ineptly built bomb to explode--dousing himself in gasoline and screaming 'God is great!' while trying to punch at a police officer who was trying to put out the fire?
This brings to mind the sad New Jersey wannabes who hoped to attack Fort Dix and were ultimately discovered because they wanted to transfer their nifty self-made jihadist training video to DVD...and did so at the local electronics store. Well done, lads. (Strangely enough, the prevalence of images of thugs-with-guns is one of those areas where jihadism and gangsta-rap seem to come together...)
A reminder, if needed, that along with whatever other sensible attitudes one adopts toward terrorists, a healthy dose of contempt might also be appropriate.
Losers. Dangerous losers. But losers all the same.
Anyway, the other thing that seems to have received an astonishing amount of commentary over the last couple of weeks is the EU-produced video clip labelled 'Film Lovers Will Love This', a montage of sex-scenes from award-winning films aimed at advertising a new EU fund to promote European film.
It's safe to say in this case that it was not only my generally federalist political leanings in all things European that made me like it....
I think reactions to the film have in some way been instructive, as it raised almost enragingly predictable negative responses from euroskeptic Britons (Are there any other kinds? No, really, I don't think they exist...) and also from the--increasingly annoying--world of Polish politics.
"They do have an image problem," Conservative MEP Chris Heaton-Harris told the BBC in reference to the EU, "but I think cobbling together 44 seconds of soft porn on the Internet is not a brilliant way of solving it."
Thanks Chris, but labelling films like 'Amelie' and 'Breaking the Waves' as 'soft porn' only tells us more about you than it does about either European cinema or the EU.
And this is even better:
Euro-skeptic MEP Godfrey Bloom told the tabloid Sun that it was "cheap, tawdry and tacky."
Godfrey was speaking of the video montage, of course...but the 'it' in that sentence is delightfully, and appropriately, ambiguous, don't you think?
It is unfortunate, in some ways, that the video in question has so overshadowed the others in the series, which highlight the same message (the EU helps distribute European films) by striking different tones.
The method--themed montage with matching mood-oriented music--is terribly simple, but I think the results are quite effective. (All the EU-themed videos are available at the 'EU-Tube' site. Information on them is available from a European Union media page here.)
Here are, for example, themed clips on joy and sadness.
One, to which I am for some reason particularly partial, strikes a romantic note:
Of course, if I wanted to promote the romanticism of European cinema, I might have included something like this...
(From Un homme et une femme.)