[Warning: Contains multiple plot spoilers]
Imagine a film in which the pretext is that an evil environmentalist billionaire, convinced that climate change will destroy the earth without drastic action, plots, in cahoots with most of the world’s politicians, to cull the human population via signals sent from SIM cards that control people’s minds.
Now imagine that this dastardly plot is resisted only by the paramilitary wing of a firm of bespoke tailors and (separately) by the Princess of Sweden.
Suppose a central moral message of the tale is that being posh is not a bad thing, but that it is a mistake to believe that being posh is something one is born to rather than learns. Indeed, suppose that many of those that are born to it turn out to be cowards and sell-outs.
Meanwhile, imagine that the hero is an outsider whose practical life experience gives him an edge at critical moments. The rest of humanity teeters precariously on the brink of falling upon one another with murderous intent, protected from doing so only by a well-mannered dog-loving elite.
Oh, yes – and let’s have 1997 be the date at which there was a catastrophe in which some of the posh chaps were wiped out and which everyone’s been trying to make up for ever since. And, just for good measure, let’s make sure that in virtually every main scene our heroes consume vast quantities of alcohol – with no obviously deleterious impact upon performance
Gentlemen and… well, probably mainly just gentlemen, I give you: Kingsman, surely the most UKIP film ever.
I want to say that the only way it could be any more UKIP would be if the closing credits included a well-known figure saying “My name is Nigel Farage, and I approve this message” – but this would be a ghastly out-of-place Americanism in a movie in which there is not a single American character that is not some form of bad guy.
As a fantasy tale, I loved it and would recommend it strongly to anyone with a taste for silly spy movies, movies in which young folk get trained (think Divergent), or scenes in which one highly-trained character near-effortlessly kills a room full of opponents in slow motion.
But more than that I am fascinated by what a film like this says about the zeitgeist.
There is, of course, a certain taste for the idea that the ubiquity of mobile telephony creates the threat of its misuse in some form of control. Or the idea that some of those most passionate about climate change appear willing to see humanity forced to make large sacrifices for their cause. Or that the elites have come to be dominated by those born to it instead of those bringing the proper combination of training and life experience.
We see that in politics all the time. We even see it in our newspapers. But it’s much rarer – indeed, exhilarating in slightly kinky way – to see it so shamelessly in a movie. We appear now to have reached a type of break-out point, where UKIP-thinking penetrates and steers pop culture as well as public debate.
Since writing most of this, I’ve discovered that the above points may be less coincidental than I had assumed – the writer of Kingsman appears, in fact, to have UKIP sympathies. But it’s fairly clear – I hope – that the Kingsman film-makers had their tongues in their cheeks. On the other hand, the next generation UKIP-mindset film, in which the director’s message is genuine, surely cannot be far away…