If you haven't seen In The Loop (2009) stream it, rent it, download it- do what you can to see it before September 18th 2014, the day that Scotland holds its eagerly anticipated and now down to the wire Referendum on whether it stays or goes from the U.K.
It is the political comedy that pits 10 Downing Street against its Washington counterparts in deliberations over what a coalition is to do amidst a fictional Iraq War. Ostensibly it is the tension between Brits and Americans that drives the comedy, but more importantly it is the English-Scottish riffs that elevate the movie to excellence. It is damn funny. The lines are just razor-sharp. It is dialogue that is both totally over-the-top but at the same time utterly believable. This is how bureaucrats and their aides and functionaries talk and interact; there is 90% of the crowd assiduously following the rules, and then the remaining 10% knocking everything down to great comedic effect.
Here is the dialogue from the above scene (courtesy IMDb):
Jamie MacDonald: Well, if it isn't Humpty Numpty.
Simon Foster: What is this? Surround bollocking?
Jamie MacDonald: Hey, with due respect, I hadn't finished. If it isn't Humpty Numpty sitting on top of a collapsing wall like some clueless egg cunt. Now, I'm finished.
Simon Foster: Hi, Jamie, this is Toby.
Toby Wright: Oh, um... Toby Rice, I'm Simon's aide.
Jamie MacDonald: Hi, Toby, Toby. Very pleased to meet you. Please sit down. Now, right, that's enough of all the fucking Oxbridge pleasantries.
Toby Wright: What's Oxbridge about saying hello?
Jamie MacDonald: Shut it, Love Actually! Do you want me to hole punch your face?
Malcolm Tucker: Right, I'm off to deal with the fate of the planet. Be gentle with them.
Jamie MacDonald: Oh, you know me, Malc. Kid gloves... but made from real kids. Right, Butch and Gaydance, this wall story is playing badly. There's a cartoon of you in here as a walrus.
Simon Foster: A walrus? I'm not fat, I don't even have a moustache. Fuck, they've given me tusks.
The reason it is so biting is the undercurrent of English-Scottish shenanigans. Simon Foster is the oh-so-Southern, Pimms #1 self-effacing Englishman with the undeniably, inescapably twee accent, while Malcolm Tucker is the hell-raising rebellious Scot, and Jamie MacDonald the almost criminally abrasive Glaswegian, terrorizing the English at every opportunity he finds.
Jamie MacDonald: See that fax?
Michael Rodgers: Yes.
Jamie MacDonald: That is your career. And I think it might be fucked, but let's just check. Yeah, yeah, it's pretty fucked. Now, I hope you can play the spoons, because you're too old to go back to being a gentleman's fluffer.
It is biting satire, and having been a student in more than a few primary school classrooms in 80's Hong Kong run by English and Scottish teachers, I just love the dry and wry gags. The subtext is rich with this running English-Scottish tit-for-tat humor, and it is a riot. If only Americans could allow themselves to indulge in the same taking the piss mantra that is infused in the entirety of In The Loop; if only Yankees and Red Sox Fans, or West Coast Rap vs East Coast Rap, and Inner City and Suburb, Black and White could enjoy in the same respite from political correctness in the form of the same piss-taking, well, that would be a better, securer, more self-assured America.
If Scotland votes for Independence- well, I have no right to weigh in on the politics from afar. I may be between a smidge and a fraction Scots-Irish by ancestry, and I though I care about this issue in some contemplative way, following the news on the referendum intently, I should lay off on opining too much. That won't stop me from saying that a national divorce will be much more complicated and costly economically than the Yes Campaign says. If it is Yes, indeed, a new country will be born. That is exciting- and like an exhausted marathon runner being carried the last few miles by the crowd and the moment- I'm sure Scotland would find a way to manage the early problems it would be beset with on day #1. Nonetheless, there are no free lunches; to be pro Independence should mean a very stern look at the costs- that side of the ledger is much more relevant (after all, the pluses of nationhood are easy to identify). And rather than look at what the oil revenues are projected to do in the next decade or two (they are surely declining), or look at the NHS situation for a proportionally grayer Scotland, and a totally unknown prospective Scottish National Debt (subject to what would be very mean and nasty negotiations- the gloves would be off at that point, no?), I would start where Alex Massie did (HT to @nfergus for RT). In his eloquent piece on why he is voting No he says "I'm Scottish but I'm British too." And that is a bloody fact. He is British too. There is something much bigger at stake in this discussion. The elephant in the room is identity. The elephant in the room is all of the material goods and immaterial stuff associated with identity. The economic argument for dissolution of the Union is shaky at best, and the sturm und drang of London versus Edinburgh, Central vs Local, is a feature of discussion in every polity around the world- there is nothing particularly Scottish about that theme. Erstwhile Yes voters- read up about Hong Kong- somehow places like Hong Kong will make central and local work- with nothing of the sort of prospect of "Max-Devolution."
Again, the one right I have is given to me because I love movies like In The Loop. The media consumer's right. With Scotland Independent, there will be no more movies like In The Loop, for what makes that movie is the outrageous, internecine feuding that takes place only amidst the intimacy of family members- in this case Scots and English. Done right, the theme of hating the ones we love makes for great comedy- it is the go-to recipe for so much of the world's satire. After divorce, you can be neighbors and friends, sure, maybe of the type that borrows WD-40 or brown sugar or a barbecue apron- but this very particular long running satire, one that much of the world knows with great familiarity even if you don't know it Scotland- will be over- the world will be poorer, and less funny for it.