27 November 2016

Food Banks And Soapboxes

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When Ken Loach won his second Palme D'or for I, Daniel Blake, it was presented to him by Mad Max director George Miller and Mel 'Sugar Tits' Gibson. This is ironic because as Loach's new film began, I presumed that I was watching one of those post-apocalyptic, world's-gone-to-shit movies. Then I realised that rather than being set in the ruins of the old world, I, Daniel Blake was actually taking place in modern day Newcastle. Meh, it's an easy mistake to make. In this film, the Mordor-alike Newcastle has its own Eye Of Sauron ensuring that the orc-ish Geordies are kept under control. However rather than being a giant flaming tower, it's the Conservative Government and its Orwellian benefit system that aims to bewilder the sick and the vulnerable into a conveniently cheap death. Times are tough and money is tight, and this movie aims to remind us of how Cameron once said “We're all in it together”. Although what we're 'in' might differ depending on where you fall within society. Where some people are finding themselves heading towards being in a poverty-related early grave, others are simply enjoying another bottle of champers whilst being shaft-deep in a dead pig's mouth.

I, Daniel Blake tells the story of a fifty-nine year old Geordie who has been told that he is completely unfit to work by his doctor having just suffered a massive heart-attack. To be fair, he's lucky to have reached that age. I've been to Newcastle and I'm pretty sure that the air you breath up there is at least forty-percent chips. Sadly, and despite being so ill, Daniel Blake is found fit for work by the various tests that the Government enforces on us lowly minions, which results in him losing his eligibility for benefits. This seems fair enough though, as I'm sure you'll agree. Why should a desperately sick man be entitled to financial help after having worked hard all his life? Especially when we live in a world in which some of our rich, tax-sapping elite are still yet to buy a moat for their fucking ducks?! When arguing his case at the job centre he meets Katie, a young woman that's also being shafted by the system, and so the two begin an unlikely friendship. He needs to navigate his way through the limbo of being wrongly ineligible for sick pay but too ill to actually work, and therefore ineligible for the dole. She however simply needs to find somebody who'll treat her like a human as she looks for ways in which she can feed her children without having to resort to renting out her vagina like it's a fucking video-cassette from Blockbusters

Together, Daniel and Katie are a friendship made in heaven. Assuming your idea of heaven is the crippling conditions that are forced on society's most vulnerable in order to supress them into submission. Since the film's release, there's been a variety of controversial comments made by our superior elites that the film aims to criticise, with the bulk of them seeming to deny the validity of the events depicted. The Oxbridge-educated and ancestor to the Fourth Duke Of Newcastle, Camilla Long described the film as being “Preachy and poorly made. A povvo safari for middle class people”. This prompted Loach to respond that “Camilla Long's ghastly review only adds fuel to the fire”. Unable to take the criticism that she deals out, and with her trademark professionalism, Long tweeted back “Poor Ken Loach. I'd be fucking angry if I wasn't Mike Leigh, too”. The irony with this being that not only is she not Mike Leigh either, she is very definitely a proper fucking cunt. I mean, the very term “povvo safari” implies that she can only see these well-rounded and brilliantly played characters in terms of their standing in society. Even former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith was able to acknowledge the film as being “A human story, full of pathos”, and he's the fucking cause of an unquantifiable amount of human misery. It's like Hitler empathising with the Jews whilst Long's Nazi doctor experiments like a woman full of love-eggs.

However, before we got too carried away and assumed that Iain Duncan Smith might actually have a soul, he did go on to claim “the film takes the very worst of anything that can ever happen to anybody, lumps it all together, and then says: this is life absolutely as it is lived by people, and I don't believe that”. Often referred to by his initials, 'IDS' sounds like some kind of bowel condition, which is apt because, as usual, he is quite clearly full of shit here. For proof of this, all you need to do is go on Loach's own Twitter page in which he seems to do nothing but re-tweet grim story after grim story in relation to the people whose lives this film is a direct reflection of. It's not quite as fun as watching cat videos or porn, but I guess the internet has its other uses. Plus, look at that IDS quote again and you'll see that he admits everything-- “the film takes the very worst of anything that can ever happen to anybody and lumps it together”. So.. he's not denying the truth of the film, but is rather arguing that although the system does dump shit onto people, it's just that it's unlikely to dump every shit onto just any one person. However, surely within any system, it's possible that mistakes could be made and if Loach is to be believed, then clearly they are being made. That's why we put rubbers on the ends of pencils, and also why IDS's Dad should have put a rubber on the end of his cock the night he was conceived.

IDS then goes onto claim that the film says, “this is life absolutely as it is lived by people, and I don't believe that”. But the film isn't claiming that this is “life absolutely”, it's simply highlighting that it's life for some people. IDS's quote might read like a defence of himself, but on second look you'll see that he denies nothing that the film accuses him of. Although, perhaps such slippery twattish-ness and lack of any sense of the bigger picture should be expected from this bald headed prick. Let's not forget that it was only in 2015 that he himself had his parliamentary credit card suspended after running up over £1000 of debt to the taxpayer. I don't know what he used it to buy, although if it wasn't head polish and breath mints to disguise the smell of bullshit, I'd be surprised. Let's not forget too that this was only after he'd announced that he was going to trial a scheme in which benefits were provided on a pre-paid cash card to help people “control their spending”. According to him, “Benefits paid, I always believed, should go to support the wellbeing of their families, not to feed their destructive habits”. Although I'm not sure how he's concluded that people on benefits are only using their money for their “destructive habits”. And what even is a “destructive habit” for that matter? Perhaps he learnt that term after reading about how Lord Sewel, the disgraced House of Lords peer used his £200 daily lunch allowance to pay for cocaine and prostitutes instead of.. I don't know.. sandwiches made from fucking solid gold, based on how high that lunch allowance is. This is on top of Sewel's yearly wage of £84,000 and having claimed £403,000 worth of expenses over a nine year period, don't forget. Do I therefore begrudge somebody on the dole spending some of their money on a pint and a packet of cigarettes? Absolutely not. Assuming of course that they save at least one of those cigarettes to stub out in Iain Duncan Smith's fucking soulless, glazed-over eyes.

With a Ken Loach film, it seems silly to ignore the politics. It'd be like looking at a Tarantino film and ignoring the violence, all the ideas that he's stolen from other movies, and his uncomfortably excessive use of the word “nigger”. Essentially, that's kind of the point of them. However ignoring the politics of I, Daniel Blake, I suppose it's worth wondering if the story stands up on its own. In which case, I think it absolutely does simply due to the strength of the relationship between the two main characters and the believability of their performances. I mean, if Loach can successfully work a film around the friendship between a simple kid and his pet bird in Kes, then two actual humans should be no trouble for him here. In a way, IDS's observation that I, Daniel Blake is “A human story, full of pathos” is actually a pretty great review of the movie and even worthy of its poster. IDS even goes further in his apparent review by saying “the one area I just had criticism of really was his portrayal of the job centre staff”, which I actually agree with as well. I was on the dole for a stint a few years ago and I quite liked my job centre guy. Here however they're portrayed with an almost Brazil-like exasperation of anybody that dares ask them for advice on how to fill out a form. However, in the way that there are good people on the dole and bad people on the dole, I can only assume that there are good people in job centres and dickhead people in job centres. This film just happens to show a good person on the dole having to deal with a dickhead person in the job centre. IDS might not have the imagination to find this scenario believable but considering the empathy-free shit-storm of pressure, stress, and trouble that this smooth-bonced, rat's-cock of a man has rained down on peoples lives, it doesn't seem so far-fetched to me.

On a final note, I met the comedian Stewart Lee this week and asked him if he'd mind signing my copy of his book. Turns out that what I have is actually a first edition, and according to Lee, “One of the only things that I've put out there that's increasing in value”. “That's good”, I said, “Because if it's increasing in value then that book is now the closest thing I'll probably ever have to a pension”. It was at this point that Lee gave me a little extra tip as he advised, “ In fact if you were to murder me at some point then I reckon the value of that book would probably sky-rocket”. “Really?” I pondered, “In which case I'll see you next time you're in town!”. We live in a world in which making a comfortable living is an increasingly difficult ambition due to the Nazi-like structures imposed on us by our Etonian Overlords. However unlike Daniel Blake, I have the luxury of knowing that I have some financial security for my future. As this brilliant movie gets across times are definitely hard. It's just a shame that rather than living in a compassionate country that'll provide for me if ever I hit hard times, I'll instead have to cave in the fucking skull of Stewart Lee with the spine of his own fucking book. A book which is ironically entitled How I Escaped My Certain Fate. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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