Culturally Discombobulated

The Ministry of Fear

As you exit security at Maui airport, when you should be recombobulating yourself and putting back on belts and shoes as well as wondering just how deliciously supple your ass looked on the full body scanner, you are greeted with a wall of photographs depicting amongst other terrorist imagery the twin towers engulfed in flames and plane debris over Lockerbie. Happy flying.



America Comprehended: Puppy Bowl

PUPPY BOWL: White America’s Saturnalia and a cultural anthropologist’s wet dream

America Comprehended: Super Bowl

SUPER BOWL: White America’s Saturnalia and a cultural anthropologist’s wet dream.

American Notes: A Man Called EW


I met a man called EW. He helped take my bags to my hotel room. I assumed, at first, that his name-tag showed his initials, but no, EW was his full name; it initialized nothing, though the name EW is pronounced E.W. and not, unfortunately, Ewwwww which I would have taken great pleasure in saying. EW I learned was a fourth-generation EW. The first-born male in the family from EW’s great-grandfather on has been gifted this name. Disappointingly EW has chosen not to carry this tradition on and instead called his son David.

Christmas fair as unconvincing simulacrum of Dickensian London

The Wapping that Kerwin Matthews’ Lemuel Gulliver sails from in The Three Worlds of Gulliver is notable for a cloudless, cobalt blue sky that only the laziest or desperate of Hollywood producers would try and pass off as East London.

I was thinking of that film and its perfunctory attempt at creating a convincing London as I wandered around a Dickensian Christmas fair at the weekend. A too blue sky and weather uncomfortably warm enough that those colorful souls in bonnets and top hats perspired unpleasantly meant there was little yuletide wonder to be found.

As often seems to be the case with these sorts of events there is a failure on the part of some to acknowledge the event’s absurdity. You come across it most often at Renaissance fairs where organizers will insist on the painstaking historical accuracy of their event – “Oh, this is definitely what a Tudor village would have been like and we’ve also all learned to speak in accurate Tudor accents.” – even though though the end result seems far more Monty Python than anything.

The people who turn up in deliberately anachronistic costumes – Elves, Star Trek Characters, Doctor Who – at least embrace the absurdity and know that the only way to do do something like this is to keep tongues firmly in cheeks. Culturally, it goes both ways. Can you imagine how cringe-worthy a Western-themed fair held in Peterborough would be? You would have to play it for laughs. I guess that is why the only notable cowboy film produced in the UK is Carry On Cowboy.