Funny the link between what we might loosely call art and life, and how one affects the other. Years and years ago a song called ‘Ding-dong, the witch is dead’ was written and performed in a much-loved movie. Then it’s resurrected today and suddenly everyone is full of tortured conscience: should we play this song, is it offensive in the light of Margaret Thatcher’s death, but she wouldn’t have wanted censorship, not much she wouldn’t, tell that to the Shinners, oxygen of publicity and all that, we are the BBC and we always strike a balance so play five seconds of it and fill in the rest with a mini-history lesson.
All that over one little children’s song.
But in that case there was/is a link but not a causal one between art and life. ‘Ding-dong the witch is dead’ didn’t cause Thatcher to die. But what about this, now?
You know the way we’ve all been shocked by those explosions at the end of the Boston marathon. I love Boston - was in it last summer and it was a delight; and I quite like running, although my total maximum is a half-marathon, not a full one. Now I could go on - and maybe I will just a little - about how we feel more deeply about events, especially sad or tragic events, when they’re televised. Reading about them in the paper isn’t quite the same thing. And of course we feel more deeply about events which happen to people like ourselves. President Obama has never made any secret of his orders for the use of drone bombs in Pakistan, which have led to the deaths of thousands. And was it in Pakistan that around 70 people died in an explosion the same day as the Boston marathon? Such things get nowhere near as much attention as Boston, because what’s far away and dissimilar in culture from our one seems, well, less human. Logical in our compassion, aren’t we?
But get this one. I bought next week’s Radio Times yesterday and as usual flicked through the movies listed for showing. Anything with four stars gets my attention so when I saw one in that category called Four Lions I checked the detail. It’s scheduled for showing next Monday night but my guess is it might just get pulled before that.
If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what’s coming next. It’s by TV satirist, the wonderful Chris Morris, who made The Day Today and Brass Eye. So what’s Four Lions about? Well would you believe it’s an “audacious jihad comedy” about a gang of four whose plan it is to bomb the London Marathon. The Radio Times says Morris’s film is “fast, very funny and disturbing mostly in the sense that, despite wanting to create murder on a vast scale, the suicide bombers are actually a likeable bunch”.
Did they say “likeable bunch”? That seals it. Art will next Monday affect life once again and the movie will be pulled. But think positive. It’s scheduled for Film4 and not the BBC. Think of the agonising, think of the compromise finally reached had it been Auntie: showing five minutes of the movie and giving a lecture during the remainder of the scheduled time.