The Corner

Culture

A Generation’s Ignorance

In recent months there has been a more than usually large glut of World War II films. Just as screenings of Dunkirk were thinning out there was the release of Darkest Hour. Both followed on from last year’s historically inept Churchill. But the success of Darkest Hour (and praise for Gary Oldman’s performance in particular) has been such that U.K. audiences have been giving standing ovations in the nation’s cinemas at the end of the film.

“What does this mean?” various British pundits have pondered. Is it a melancholic expression of nostalgia for grander times? Or an expression of relief at some moral clarity after the ups-and-downs of the post-Brexit period? Or perhaps a new generation is rediscovering in the cinema part of their island’s story about which they can feel pride?

While being skeptical of many such claims, the latter seems particularly unlikely. On Sunday in London there was a “women’s march” once again mirroring its sister event in Washington. Once again, as last year, the event centered around opposition to President Trump and the waving of vulgar placards to proclaim various causes from “anti-racism” to abortion rights.

If one placard summed up the day (and, not to be too grandiose, something of the era) it would have to be this:

Of course, the young woman waving the placard proclaiming “No country for old white men” would seem to be white herself. And she probably also stands the usual chances of becoming old. More significant is the fact that behind her, just within shot of the camera, is the monument to the women of World War II. A little further behind that, just out of shot, is the cenotaph commemorating “The Glorious Dead” from both the First and Second World Wars. Every November, some of the remaining “old white men” gather in that place to remember their fallen comrades — young white men who never got a chance to get old.

I suppose it is no use pointing out that if it weren’t for all those “white men,” our young pink-haired warrior wouldn’t be able to holler against “structures of oppression” and the like. Or, rather, she would have real “structures of oppression” to contend with. We’ll need more than a few big-budget films to address generational ignorance like this.

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