working for the man every night and day

Both halves of PTSD have been on a bit of a hiatus lately but I, for one, am back. Small Regional Conference awaits next week, my paper for it remains ready to be typed out on my way up there and, oh, should I mention to my Chair that I have not only changed the title of my paper but that I'm going to give the discussant an entirely new paper, one which bears no resemblance to whatever I wrote in the abstract? Probably not and the discussant, being a seasoned IR-type, should be used to this type of thing, I suppose.

However, that's not the subject of my post for today. I want to talk about a film I just saw--Flushed Away. As with most Aardman productions, it was laden with beautiful detail and, of course, it was all about nationalism(s). Someday I want to write about the constructions of identity in Aardman films as compared to Disney but, for now, this will have to suffice. Due to a serious sleep deficiency, I am even less coherent than usual*, so here are some thoughts in no particular order):

The sly commentary of the casting of an Australian (Hugh Jackman) as the voice of the very posh English rat, Roddy. I can only think it was a (rather pointed) dig at England especially when, just before the final climax, Roddy starts the mayhem by saying "England's winning! Anything's possible!!"

The anti-monarchist sentiments that are quite obvious in Doctor Who** were also evident here. The main villain, brilliantly played by Sir Ian McKellan was a formerly-beloved pet toad flushed down the toilet by Prince Charles.

The construction of American national identity as depicted by a loud, obnoxious tourist couple(E, the man came complete with a Hawaiian shirt and camera and hat), a toy soldier whose lines included "Come and get me, enemy of freedom"*** and numerous excellent songs, including the one from which the title of this post was taken.

The French as suave and sophisticated (and with Jean Reno playing "Le Frog", what else could they be?) but also drawing upon (English) stereotypes--the French take five hours to eat their food and at one point when told to "get into action", Le Frog's henchmen (henchfrogs?) drop their weapons and surrender.

The English as obsessed with football (the plot hinges on potential chaos during the World Cup final, where England and Germany face each other) but also losing matches on penalties***. The class-division of Roddy's posh accents contrasted with the Cockney accents of the sewer rats (though Hugh Jackman's accent often slipped into Australian, especially when saying words like "permission"). The recurring trope of the plucky little hero(ine) overcoming adversity and helping out her family and the (lonely) hero who is wealthy but has no friends or family to hang out with are both present and accounted for.

Before I forget: an example of the attention to detail--there's a cockroach who lives behind the stove in the heroine's family's kitchen. When on screen, it is shown reading Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

I do have more I could write about the constructions of (national) identity but I shall probably revisit this theme when I go watch the latest version of James Bond in a couple of weeks' time so yous will have to wait till then.

* Though I did finish the paper I'd socially-constructed out of existence for the past few weeks. The thing about social construction is that it is quite useful when one is examining how the world works but not as useful when trying to ignore something.

** Maybe in a tribute to 2006's Tooth and Claw, Le Frog had a cohort of French ninja frogs to help him in his dastardly deeds. From Scottish ninjas to French ninja (frogs).

*** Which, in itself was quite brilliant as I'd just spent the previous few hours writing about construction of "terrorist enemy" as the biggest threat faced by the "United States and the global community today". In case yous are interested, the toy soldier has his battery taken out (and falls silent). I shall leave yous to interpret that any way you see fit.

**** After having led Germany 4-1 at half time, during which point I was starting to think this was getting rather heavy-handed in addition to being very much wishful thinking, there's a scene at the end of the film of a newpaper headline with "England lose on penalties" prominently displayed on its front page. Things are back to normal, at that point (so the world and England are back on track).


At 11/05/2006 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i want to watch it now. sounds like fun. typical. but apparently the bigshots (dreamworks) were meaner this time than the last two times from what i heard.

At 11/05/2006 10:37 PM, Blogger Priya said...

It's actually rather different too because it's not as "quirky" as W and G but it's still good fun. And, the regular animation (in addition to the usual faces) helps.


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