Friday, July 27, 2007

We will have pride in how we live

I have a new favourite Christmas song. I'm not sure what my old favourite Christmas song was, but there's no way it can be as awesome as Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher from Billy Elliot: The Musical. This is the chorus:

So merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
May God's love be with you
We all sing together in one breath
Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
We all celebrate today
'Cause it's one day closer to your death
I wasn't particularly fond of the movie Billy Elliot. I felt it wasn't particularly well written, and the mining strike was too far in the background. I wouldn't have expressed any interest in the musical, but my sister has just come back from the UK, and she brought the Cast Recording with her.

I'd consider a song about celebrating Maggie Thatcher's death enough to make a musical anyway, but there's more. There are songs of solidarity and struggle, which give workers' struggle weight and importance.

I'll probably never see the musical, for all I'm loving soundtrack and I'm still a little unsure about the idea. I believe passionately that we need to tell the stories of our struggles. Knowing about fighting and winning, even fighting and losing, is the hope in our history. I don't know much about the miner's strike, and I'm a trade unionist and historian, who was born in Britain. Billy Elliot: The Musical will keep the history of the miners strike alive.

But this a West End musical, with seat prices to match. At what point do people telling their own stories become the commodification of resistance? Does it matter that the creators don't see themselves writing about someone else's life, but feel resonances in their own life for the story that they tell?

Do ex-miners and their families get in free?

* . I think the miners, the union movement, and the working class, would have been far stronger if their vision of the future hadn't been so very limited.

5 comments:

  1. hehe, no one does dark humour like the english.

    Incidentally, I've just finnished posted some exerpts from my thesis on the effect of National's 1991 Employment Contracts Act on the union movement and wage levels workers in New Zealand. It needs a bit of tidying up but the guts of it's there. Hope it's interesting/useful for at least a few people here.

    http://www.rogernome.blogspot.com

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  2. Anonymous2:52 pm

    Good to see that sanity is alive and well, and that you are happy to celebrate someone (who was democractically elected as well) death. Well done! Do you hold the same views about Castro/Kim Jong Il and other leftist monsters and will be you be 'celebrating' their passing or is just democratically elected leaders that you want dead?

    Last time i checked, the writers, who are allowed to write about anything they like, put the emphasis on Billy Elliot in the story. But i guess we shouldnt be distracted by the fact the story is named after the boy that the story should be about him and not some striking unionists

    I guess if you are concerned about the treatment the strike got, you (or the miners) can write their own version. But as that might involve doing some paid work then no doubt you will rule that out.

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  3. anonymous ...

    Same old boring clished rightwing BS. Thacture destroyed the union movement in the UK, just as Bolger's fascists did here in the early 1990s. Go and read my blog to see the effect that it's had on the wages of ordinary kiwis.

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  4. Maia, I hate you! When I glanced over this my reaction was "is it? could it be?" *checks BBC website* nothing. "Damn".

    Thanks for getting my hopes up :)

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  5. Anonymous11:47 am

    Read this review from a UK miner's web site.

    http://www.minersadvice.co.uk/reviews_billyelliot_the_musical.htm

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