Hang your head, Britain

Posted by · 5:32 pm · November 4th, 2008

It’s at moments like this that I would like to point out that I’m not really British. Yes, I live there. Yes, I have a British passport and a somewhat malformed British accent. But I was born in South Africa and hold those last two items in a South African flavor too. For the moment, at least, I’m calling myself South African.

The reason for the cultural distancing? Well, it has something (okay, everything) to do with the fact that “Mamma Mia!” is on course to become the highest-grossing film of all time in the UK.

It is currently sitting in second place, with £67.4 million — with the record £69 million gross of “Titanic” only a heartbeat away. It will more than likely happen — 16 weeks into its run, recently released “singalong” versions (shudder) are giving it renewed life.

Words fail me. True, I can’t stand “Titanic” either. But at least it was a massive, self-mythologising event of a movie, one that broke some ground in the industry (if not in the artform) and represented a clear ‘moment’ in pop culture history. It was a film, in other words, whose stature and influence befitted such records.

“Mamma Mia!”, on the other hand, has Meryl Streep belting “The Winner Takes It All” on a pastel-hued Greek island, like the floor show at some ghastly Sandals resort. If this is any cultural representation of the current British generation, we’re as confused as we are doomed.

And you thought America was the only country whose credibility was at stake today.

On a side note, it’s interesting to draw a parallel here with “The Dark Knight.” With Christopher Nolan’s film devouring the US box-office this summer, there have been calls for the Academy to fall in line with public tastes and consequently recognise its significant cultural achievement with a Best Picture nomination.

By that rationale, should the Brits start lobbying BAFTA for a “Mamma Mia!” sweep, come February? It only seems fair, complicating factors of crapness aside.

→ 10 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

10 responses so far

  • 1 11-04-2008 at 9:04 pm

    AJ said...

    I am so proud to not be a red coat right now…

  • 2 11-05-2008 at 5:06 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I had to endure the movie twice. It is a bad movie. I can see the appeal. People mistake brilliant songs for a good film. It is not. Horrible.

  • 3 11-05-2008 at 5:33 am

    Liz said...

    When I tell people how I thought this movie was terrible, you should see how they react. They freak out, call me bitter, tell me to get therapy. Honestly, this movie is awful.

    And people thought the Dark Knight fans were intolerant.

  • 4 11-05-2008 at 5:57 am

    John said...

    Hahaha, well … I liked ”Mamma Mia” an awful lot. But it’s true. It’s quite odd how popular it is, both in England and the rest of the world. I mean, I thought last years “Hairspray” was MUCH better. And while it won awards and made some pretty $$, it’s nowhere near the appeal of something like “Mamma Mia’. Go figure.

  • 5 11-05-2008 at 7:31 am

    Chris said...

    Yeah, but to be fair, Guy, do you know how many students at UK universities love High School Musical? And I strongly doubt that they’re the target audience.

    There’s simply something wrong with this country, as it seems to go nuts everytime good-looking people sing and dance to cheesy pop songs on screen.

  • 6 11-05-2008 at 9:55 am

    Zak said...

    I think all you people just took the movie too seriously. How often do we have a film come along that’s sole purpose is to have fun. It’s not supposed to be great writing, great acting, etc….you’re just supposed to sit back, not have to think about anything, and have a good time. The movie, when you look at it that way, was excellent. It was so much fun, and such a great time.

    Lay off a bit.
    Just enjoy it for what it is, and maybe you’ll understand better it’s huge popularity and it’s remarkable financial success worldwide.

    They must have done something right since it’s approaching $600 Million Worldwide.

  • 7 11-05-2008 at 11:04 am

    Liz said...

    The movie didn’t include great writing or great acting, but was excellent? I’m sorry, that argument will never carry weight with me. People keep telling me how much fun it was, but I rather felt like it was beating me over the head, telling me how much fun I was supposed to be having while not actually having any at all. It was poorly made. That’s all.

    Of course, I’m sure you don’t need me to point out the flaw in the statement that, because it made $600 million worldwide, it must have been good. Just because it’s popular does not mean it’s good. There are hundreds of examples of the exact opposite.

  • 8 11-05-2008 at 2:34 pm

    Rob said...

    I think BAFTA talk is silly.

    Sure its a daft, daft film and utterly contrived. But I don’t know a single person who didn’t have fun in the theatre, and people keep going back. My parents saw the movie, and they haven’t been to a cinema in about two years.

    It’s no worse a movie than the first Harry Potter flick which it supplanted. It’s just as entertaining.

  • 9 11-05-2008 at 4:00 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    BAFTA talk, like the whole post, was strictly facetious, Rob.

    I like fun, featherweight films. I like musicals too. But I hated “Mamma Mia!” for being both depressingly cynical about its target audience, and utterly inept as a movie musical. Just because it sells itself as a good time doesn’t mean I have to buy it as one.

  • 10 11-06-2008 at 1:26 pm

    Frank Lee said...

    I, for one, do not believe that America’s credibility is at stake today.