Contains Jockularity — the worst scottish stereotypes onscreen, lifelessons from billionaires, Mary Queen of Scots first movie, Duke for US President
A version of this appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail August 30 2016
Rihanna has just been given a lifetime achievement award. She’s 28. This doesn’t make me feel near death at all.
In 1895, Scotland made its debut in a feature film in an American movie which re-staged the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots, unsettling audiences with both its frankness and the lack of persuasive early special effects.
Ever since, Scotland on screen has been vulnerable to stereotypes involving tartan histrionics, kilt, Mel Gibson, Loch Ness monsters and monstrous accents.
Ever since, Scotland on screen has been vulnerable to jockularity: stereotypes involving tartan histrionics, kilt, Mel Gibson, Loch Ness monsters and monstrous accents.
Now Hopscotch, a Scottish TV company are making a documentary about abominable Scottish stereotypes on film and TV, and have been trying to enlist the views of doughty celtic commentators like the American TV presenter Ruby Wax and English standup comedian Mark Steel.
Let’s hope Hopscotch’s movie connoisseurs have been to see Pixar’s Brave, where bagpipes wail over the opening credits, swiftly followed by references to haggis and highland warriors keen to let us know what they’re not wearing under their kilts. It makes Monarch Of The Glen look like Trainspotting.
Yet the ultimate Sunday Post-coated version of Scotland as a land of restful scenery, sparky accents and suspiciously clear skies has to be Stone of Destiny, based around the theft of the Scone Stone, made by Canadians, with an Englishman playing a young Ian Hamilton.
Those against an independent Scotland are portrayed as bitter old drunks in the Glasgow University bar, reducing Scottish Nationalism to Attractive Young People With Weird Irish Accents vs Grumpy Gits.
You needn’t be an ardent Unionist to feel that the finer points of Scotland’s devolution debate have been omitted here. However I did enjoy a scene where Scotland celebrates the successful hoicking of the stone with Glaswegians dancing in the streets and one glass of whisky. Never has our national drink been rendered with such frugality.
Not that weird scots stereotypes have to stay home in the but an’ ben. Scotland is credited as the country of origin for Groundkeeper Willie, the redbeared pugilistic janitor in The Simpsons , and Richard Attenborough’s accent in Jurassic Park.
The main evidence for entrepreneur John Hammond being Scottish is a profuse use of the word “laddie” lashed to a vocal styling that travels speedily around the home counties before landing breathless and tired in some remote spot on the Scottish borders.
Hammond isn’t scottish in the novel, which suggests writers wondering which country might produce an engineering genius whose tragic flaw is a lust for loot collected at the expense of hapless customers of his dinosaur theme park. Scotland is the dispiriting answer.
Kilt fiction offers either a positive stereotype about noble warrior poets, or a negative one about belligerent drunks. Both have elements of truth but films made outside of Scotland rarely capture our sense of whimsy and fun. That’s what makes Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero so enduringly great: it combines romanticism with a hard-edged humour: a Highland idyll punctuated lowflying jets, where an injured rabbit is tenderly carried to a hotel, then reappears as the evening meal.
But if Hopscotch really wants to nail shonky depictions of scottishness on celluloid, they need look no further than The Wicker Man, where Edward Woodward’s God-fearing police sergeant goes in search of a missing teenager on a Hebridean island.
The locals are pagan maniacs, the pubs are full to bursting, and there’s a spot of arson. However everything stops when there’s a chance for a boozy singsong. It could have been made by Canadians.
Donald Trump’s new campaign team are trying to soften the Republican candidate’s image and make him more appealing by making him apologise for some of the things he’s said in the past.
He’s reached out to black voters, even though few will forgive the fact that when he was starting in business, he was sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent to black tenants. He’s also trying to woo the latino despite promising to build a wall around Mexico, possibly from remaindered copies of The Art of The Deal.
He’s also backpedalled from implying that shooting Hillary Clinton is an option, and that President Obama founded ISIS
However he hasn’t talked about his decision to nickname Hillary Clinton, “The Devil.” “It’s true,” he added during that speech, as if he’d nipped down to Hell himself to do the factcheck.
Maybe he’ll backtrack on that too: or maybe we’ll have an additional thrill in November when The Fanta Menace makes his concession speech informing the American people that he’s disappointed to lose out, but now believes everyone should unite and support the devil.
Meanwhile the townsfolk of Cormorant, Minnesota have elected Duke as their mayor for the third year running.
Duke loves being asked to shake hands with his voters, doesn’t bark at opponents and is a very good boy. Duke is also a 9 year old Great Pyrenees dog; and already he’s run three more successful election campaigns than Donald
‘What would you do to avenge the murder of someone you loved?’ That’s the question posed by new BBC psychological drama One Of Us, set in a part of Scotland where no-one actually sounds scottish.
Other, more pertinent questions posed by the series: could One of Us have been set anywhere from Cornwall? Or the Brecon Beacons? Because the Scottish elements feel as authentic as soy haggis.
And it’s a jolt to see Edinburgh police based in a shiny steel and glass HQ overlooking Waverley Station. Where do the cops park their cars? And if there’s a murder, do they have to take a tram to the scene of the crime?
Are all of the Grace Brothers staff on zero hour contracts? That would make it easier to get rid of them after Sunday’s bargain-basement revival of Are You Being Served
Balthazar Getty, the multimillionaire wild child of America’s most dysfunctional dynasty, has been gave us an insight into his world at the weekend.
It’s hardly At Home With Caligula, but Balthazar’s aim was to convince you that an oil heir is also a relatable 41 year old dad of four, he lost that battle in paragraph 3, where he stays in bed until 11am, which is when the maid brings his breakfast bowl of oatmeal.
Also fascinating is his claim of a six-stage skincare routine. Six? It’s hard to believe there’s more to do in the bathroom than cleanse, tone and moisturise.
You might have a suspicion that Bathazar is a merely powerful argument for the redistribution of wealth, but fortunately he has some tips on parenting to pass on
“Between the ages of 1 and 3, never say no to your kids,” decrees the Gordonstoun-educated actor, who never really fulfilled the early ’90s potential of The Pope Must Die and Young Guns II: Blaze of Glory.
Apparently children are “programmed for adventure, and every time you say no, it shuts off part of their new world.”
Setting aside the fact that toddler are programmed to run response tests on their parents in same as a psychologist does to a lab rat, as a three year old, my main ambitions were
a) to be a pony, and
b) drink anything in a plastic bottle kept under the kitchen sink.
I was shut off from both of these ambitions, and that may be why this household only subscribes to a two-step skincare regime, consisting of a shower, followed by a brisk towel rub until yesterday’s mascara has successfully transferred itself from face to cloth.
Ed Balls’ account of his time in government look like an entertaining break from the usual self-regarding political boreathons, with wry accounts of almost dying in a plane crash with Gordon Brown, and trying to solve a political crisis while retrieving a piece of roast beef for his parents.
But all his political memories will be overshadowed once Strictly Come Dancing cranks up and Ed Balls is replaced by Disco Balls
As the Edinburgh Festival comes to a close, there’s a critical first at one performance when someone’s iPhone Siri picked up the opening lines and responded: ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t get that?”