The Tories: at the bleeding edge of British popular culture
October 7, 2008
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I wouldn't recognise Conservative shadow cabinet member David Willetts if he stole my bag in broad daylight and I was asked to pick him out of a police line-up. But he certainly made a name for himself at the Tory party conference:
"Bridget Jones is a real phenomenon, driven partly by the way the pattern of university education is changing. For the first time, in a historic experiment* in our society, we have
more women than men emerging from university… Of course the world is changing, and it is fantastic it is. But the fact
is that even if men want to be the breadwinner, they are no longer being
given the opportunity of being the breadwinner. They are no longer given the
opportunity to bring home the bacon, and the evidence is that that is bad
* my italics
This speech has already been deservedly doused in feminist outrage elsewhere. And of course I could rant in detail about archaic attitudes towards women, wanting to propel them back into the 1950s, the kitchen and the nursery, being somewhat revealing about how little the new caring sharing Tories have changed and haven't we learned anything from the New Labour whitewash about not being taken in by political party makeovers, leopards don't change their spots and these bastards are still sheltering refuseniks from the modern age and the changing face of family and society has been precipitated just as much by both sexes as by women – oh no! – being educated and independent and – *breathe*
No. I choose instead to focus on the mascot of this bizarre outburst. Bridget Jones? Bridget Jones?! Bridget Jones hasn't been at the forefront of contemporary culture for about five years – I would argue that the whole episode was dead before the second film came out, and any remaining gasps of breath were definitely smothered by the pillow that was Edge of Reason. Surely the only explanation for it making any money at all was because people went to see Colin Firth in a wet shirt.
And Willetts got the whole point of Bridget Jones wrong, showing him not only to be several years behind the zeitgeist, but ill-informed about the zeitgeist he's lagging in. Fuck me, these films have been on telly enough – the Tories aren't exactly busy at the moment, has David Willetts never found himself in front of ITV2 for the occasional half hour?
What next? Will David Cameron illustrate the problem of Britain's Broken Society with the example of Dennis the Menace? Crime with the Famous Five's smugglers? The breakdown of the nation's banking system with the run on the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank?